Roku leads the “connected TV” device market by a pretty wide margin—the company is obviously doing something right. That doesn’t mean Roku has nothing to learn. Google TV, Fire TV, and Apple TV have some features Roku should steal.
Part of the reason why Roku has been so successful is how easy it is to use Roku devices. The interface is simple, and it really hasn’t changed much at all since it was first released. We think a few extra features would go a long way in making Roku even better.
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Content recommendations on TV platforms are a divisive topic. While some people consider them to be glorified ads, they can also be genuinely useful.
The Google TV home screen, for example, has a lot of recommendations. Some of it literally is advertisements, but a lot of it isn’t. You can rate movies and TV shows to help get better recommendations. It will also show you things on live TV right at that moment that you may be interested in watching.
Roku’s home screen has none of this. The closest thing you’ll find to recommendations is the large ads on the right side of the channel icons. If I have to see ads, they may as well be more useful to me.
“Continuous Watching” Section
Another aspect of the home screen that I’ve really come to appreciate is the “Continue Watching” feature. This is something found on Google TV, Fire TV, and Android TV, and I think it would make a lot of sense on Roku, too.
The “Continuous Watching” feature is essentially what it sounds like. It puts movies and TV shows that you are currently in the middle of watching on the home screen. That way, you can pick up where you left off without launching the app. It’s a very handy shortcut.
Gaming is not a big part of the Roku experience, but there are some games available on the platform. Google TV, Apple TV, and Fire TV all support connecting gaming controllers, but Roku does not.
Admittedly, this is not a big issue. As mentioned, gaming is not a focus on Roku devices. However, controllers are not just for games. It can be nice to use one to control the regular interface as well. It’s just a bit strange that Roku doesn’t support this feature.
RELATED: How to Pair a Game Controller to Google TV or Android TV
More App Diversity
The Roku Channel Store is one of the largest “app stores” for streaming TV platforms. Quantity isn’t the only thing that matters, though. The diversity of apps in the Roku Channel Store leaves something to be desired.
What do we mean by app diversity? Let’s take YouTube, for example. On Google TV, you’ll find a few third-party YouTube apps that offer some features you won’t find in the official app. Roku, on the other hand, has done a lot to remove these sorts of apps.
A restrictive and curated app store certainly has its benefits for safety and security. However, there’s also value in allowing these types of third-party apps. More choices for users and more tools for developers.
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Lastly, here’s an admittedly small feature that not even all the Roku competitors have: Screenshots. It’s essentially impossible to take screenshots on a Roku device. There is a method to do it, but it’s highly restrictive and not really useful for normal situations.
Google TV and Fire TV devices can take screenshots thanks to being based on Android—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 phone all the time. Why not your TV?
RELATED: How to Take Screenshots on a Roku the Easy Way
At the end of the day, Roku is a very mature platform. It hasn’t changed a ton, but there have been consistent refinements throughout the years. A few extra features would make Roku devices appeal to more “power users.”