The One Roku Feature You Need to Know

Late one recent evening, I was trying to finish watching Black Panther again — streaming on Netflix on my Roku — but I almost had to stop. As the film got louder and louder, as Killmonger and T'Challa dueled and the Wakandan tribes waged war, I realized that I was risking my own battle by angering my roommates who were already trying to sleep.

In that moment, though, after pausing the movie with my Roku remote, I noticed its headphone jack, and remembered one of the best features on any Roku device. It's called Private Listening, and it allows you to pipe the audio from your Roku to the Roku app on your smartphone (Google Play and iOS) or some Roku remotes.

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You don't need to be a night owl to see the potential here. Private Listening can help you be more considerate in plenty of situations in which programming doesn't need to be shared, from parents tired of hearing their kids' favorite shows to partners who don't follow the same sports or reality show.

After I finished the movie, I marveled at this trick that I'd heard about months ago but had let lie dormant since. In addition to accessing Private Listening on all modern Roku devices via the Roku app (just tap on the headphones icon), you can use the feature on the Roku Enhanced Voice Remote (for the Roku 4, Roku Premiere, Premiere+ and Roku Ultra) and the Roku Gaming Remote (for the Roku 2 and Roku 3).

Last April, Private Listening got even better, with an update that allows up to four mobile devices to connect to the same Roku. This way, groups can share in the same sound while keeping that audio out of the living spaces.

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The Roku app has other tricks, by the way. You can not only type usernames, passwords and searches into the on-screen keyboard but also perform voice searches, and send your photos, movies and songs to your TV.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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.