Roku begins AirPlay 2, HomeKit rollout starting with Ultra, Streambar, Streaming Stick Plus – CNET

TCL 6-Series 2020 Roku TV 65R635

Roku devices, including 4K Roku TVs, are starting to get AirPlay support.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Roku’s rollout of support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 and HomeKit is now underway. On Wednesday the streaming giant announced that it has begun issuing the update, part of Roku OS 9.4, to a variety of its devices including its Ultra streaming box, Streambar and Smart Soundbar speakers, as well as the Streaming Stick Plus and Premiere streaming sticks.

The company says that 4K Roku TVs will begin getting the update in the “coming days.” 

First announced in September, the new feature is a nice upgrade for Roku devices and allows for easily taking apps and content from an iPhone, iPad or Mac and playing it on your TV so long as both are on the same Wi-Fi network. This includes being able to stream apps and content that are not available on Roku’s platform, such as HBO Max

HomeKit integration, meanwhile, allows you to control the Roku with Siri or directly from the Home app.

Roku has previously said that nearly all of its 4K TVs and streaming players (aside from its oldest models) will get the AirPlay and HomeKit upgrades. The only player that won’t is the Roku 4 (player model 4400X) from 2015. Any 4K Roku TV from the last three years likely qualifies for the upgrade, with the exceptions having model numbers that begin with a “6” (so 6XXXX), which typically date from 2016 and earlier.

If you have an older 4K Roku TV, you can check the model number by going to Settings, System and then About. The version you have will be listed by “Roku TV.”

Rival TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio began adding AirPlay support to their televisions last year.

In briefly using the new feature on my 2017 TCL 6-Series, AirPlay performs basically as advertised. Activating it was simple after heading into the iPhone’s Control Center, selecting “Screen Mirroring,” choosing the Roku and entering the four-digit code that appeared on my screen to confirm the connection. From there I was able to view my iPhone on my TV, including playing back photos (in Dolby Vision) and watching HBO Max.

Netflix, however, wouldn’t play and instead gave a message recommending that I use the Netflix app on the Roku. It is unclear if HBO Max will continue to be able to be streamed on Rokus through AirPlay or if the feature might be blocked.

HomeKit integration, at least in my brief use, didn’t amount to much more than having Siri be able to turn the TV on or off. Siri wasn’t able to change inputs by voice or even control the volume, putting it far behind Google’s integration between Roku and its Assistant.

Beyond the AirPlay and HomeKit support, the new Roku OS will also add new themes that now include sound effects, voice hints and the ability to control surround sound levels with connected speakers.

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