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Google Assistant support is now available for Roku, with Spotify coming soon

Roku Google Assistant

In September, alongside the debut of the Roku Premiere and Premiere+, Roku also announced that it was planning to add support for Google Assistant, helping the company fend off increasingly stiff competition from Amazon. Now that feature is available on some Roku streaming devices and TVs, though some features on some devices will take longer to see support for the feature added. This functionality is included in Roku OS 9 for Roku devices, and Roku OS 8.2 for Roku TVs, which will bring other updates as well.

“In the coming weeks,” the September press release stated, “you’ll be able to use Google Assistant devices to control select Roku streaming devices to pause and search for content and launch channels.” Roku TV users will also be able to control TV power, volume level, mute, input switching, and channels changes — if there is an OTA antenna connected.

This news comes amidst rumors that Amazon is planning a free content streaming service to compete with Roku’s new ad-supported Roku Channel. In the past, there have been some clever workarounds for getting Google Assistant and Alexa to work with Roku, but this is the first time Roku has delivered official support for a third-party A.I. voice product.

To get started, you’ll need the Google Home app. In in the settings, under Home Control, select the option to add a device and you should see “Roku.” If your device is compatible, you should be up and running in just a few minutes. Now you’ll be able to use commands like “Hey Google, launch The Roku Channel on Roku” or “Hey Google, pause my Roku.”

The two new OS versions bring some other features too, including support for the premium version of Pandora and Spotify (including Spotify Connect compatibility), automatic volume leveling, and the ability to do voice searches specifically for free content. That last feature is clearly aimed at highlighting the content available within the Roku Channel.

Roku TV users who also have a set of Roku TV Wireless Speakers will get a new feature called Speech Clarity. When turned on, it looks for voice frequencies and “boosts them to address intelligibility.”

Unfortunately, some Roku users may have to wait a while before issuing commands to their TVs. The new software is rolling out very slowly, with some Roku devices not expected to get the update until the first quarter of 2019.

Updated on October 26, 2018: Edited to add that Google Assistant is now available on some devices.

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