Roku dominates the market for “connected TV” devices by a fairly wide margin—the company is obviously doing something well chosen. That doesn’t mean Roku has nothing to learn. Google TV, Fire TV, and Apple TV have some features that Roku should steal.
Part of the reason Roku has been so successful is the ease of use of Roku devices. The interface is simple, and it really hasn’t changed much since it was first released. We think a few additional features would go a long way to making Roku even better.
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Content recommendations on TV platforms are a divisive issue. Although some people refer to them as glorified advertisements, they can also be really useful.
The Google TV home screen, for example, contains many recommendations. Some of them are literally advertisements, but many are not. You can rate movies and TV shows to help get the best recommendations. It will also show you things on live TV at that time that you might be interested in watching.
The Roku home screen has none of that. The closest thing you’ll find to recommendations is the big ads on the right side of the channel icons. If I have to see advertisements, they may as well be more helpful to me.
“Continue watching” section
Another aspect of the home screen that I’ve really come to appreciate is the “keep watching” feature. It’s something found on Google TV, Fire TV, and Android TV, and I think it would make a lot of sense on Roku, too.
The “Keep Watching” is basically what it sounds like. He met movies and TV shows that you are currently watching on the home screen. This way you can pick up where you left off without launching the app. It’s a very handy shortcut.
Gaming isn’t a big part of the Roku experience, but there are a few games available on the platform. Google TV, Apple TV, and Fire TV all support connecting game controllers, but Roku does not.
Certainly, this is not a big problem. As mentioned, the game does not focus on Roku devices. However, controllers aren’t just for gaming. It might be nice to use one to control the regular interface. It’s just a bit odd that Roku doesn’t support this feature.
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More variety of applications
The Roku Channel Store is one of the largest “app stores” for streaming TV platforms. Quantity isn’t the only thing that counts, however. The diversity of apps in the Roku Channel Store leaves something to be desired.
What do we mean by application diversity? Take YouTube, for example. On Google TV, you’ll find a few third-party YouTube apps that provide certain features that you won’t find in the official app. Roku, on the other hand, has done a lot to remove these kinds of apps.
A restrictive and organized app store certainly has its benefits for safety and security. However, it is also useful to allow these types of third-party apps. More choices for users and more tools for developers.
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Finally, here’s an admittedly small feature that even all of Roku’s competitors don’t have: Screenshots. It’s essentially impossible to take screenshots on a Roku device. There is a method to do this, but it’s very restrictive and not really useful for normal situations.
Google TV and Fire TV devices can take screenshots thanks to Android base, Apple TV cannot. It’s not terribly surprising that Roku devices don’t have this feature, but it can be nice to have it sometimes. People share screenshots of their phones all the time. Why not your TV?
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Ultimately, Roku is a very mature platform. It hasn’t changed a ton, but there have been constant refinements over the years. A few additional features would make Roku devices appeal to more “power users”.