Roku is finally catching up with Fire TV and Apple TV with this upgrade

Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ interface
(Image credit: Kelly Woo/Tom's Guide)

Roku just made me say "finally." Roku OS 11, announced today (March 22) and rolling out to devices "in the coming weeks," may have a list of new features, but one in particular solves a deficiency that Roku's had up until now. 

Roku OS 11 is finally adding personalized screensavers to Roku devices in a new feature dubbed Roku Photo Streams, which is the kind of thing that Roku's needed (even though the best Roku devices rank highly in our best streaming devices list). Why are new screensavers so important? Well, it's about what they replace.

Those waiting for this option have been waiting for this for a while, as Roku City (and the other Roku screensavers) can get tiresome. Roku City (also known by its full name "Roku City Stroll: Movie Magic") is a horizontal scroll through an animated version of a city, and it's so well known that it has its own Know Your Meme page.

While cute — Roku City seems to be under attack by a giant monster peeking out of the water, an active volcano and a giant robot walking around the city — this screensaver may be a little too cute for some. The Free Aquatic Life screensaver, another popular Roku screensaver, is similar in that regard.

Check them both out here:

So, if you've always thought these screensavers were dated, Roku Photo Streams looks like the upgrade that you've long needed.

How Roku Photo Streams will work

Users will get a way to upload images straight to their Roku devices, both via the desktop and your mobile phone. This sounds as if Roku's going to allow uploads both with the Roku app and another (to be announced) means. 

Once uploaded, you can turn a group of images into a screensaver. This is overdue, and has been in Fire TV and Apple TV for quite some time. 

Oh, and you'll also be able to share your Roku Photo Streams with other users. Roku's also allowing those remote users to add photos to a stream, as if you're managing a shared photo album. 

Other new Roku OS 11 features

Own a Roku audio device, such as the Roku Streambar or the Roku Streambar Pro? Roku's elevating your options for how your shows and movies sound. First off, Roku OS 11 adds a new automatic speech clarity mode, so you have an easier time hearing dialogue. It's also adding some new sound modes, with the Standard option now joined by dialogue, movie, music and night options.

Ever have trouble finding a show? We're guessing you may have used the Roku search to find out which streaming services have the movies and shows you want. Roku OS 11 is cleaning up this experience in the Roku mobile app, to "provide users with a more visual experience" which will make it easer to see which services in your results "are streaming the content for free or where it can be streamed within existing subscriptions."

Roku recently added a "Voice Enabled Keyboard" that allowed you to enter your password and username/email address by speaking it aloud. Roku OS 11 is expanding this feature, a huge boon for those of us with complicated passwords, by adding Spanish, German and Portuguese language support. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • Sheila Y Loves Sunsets
    admin said:
    Roku Photo Streams, a new way to create custom screensavers, provide an escape from Roku City.

    Roku is finally catching up with Fire TV and Apple TV with this upgrade : Read more
    I already create custom screensavers with my Google photo app.
    I wish they would allow custom wallpapers/themes. Most of the choices that are available, I don't like.