New Netflix Roku App Runs Lightning Fast

UPDATED 6/21/14

They may call it Netflix Instant, but for owners of Roku set-top boxes, using the streaming video service hasn't felt that way, according to feedback the set-top maker has received from customers. That will change next Tuesday (June 24) — at least for owners of the high-powered Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick. 

MORE: Roku vs. Apple TV vs. Chromecast

Roku and Netflix have just announced a new version of the streaming video app that starts nearly instantaneously — as we saw in a demo last night. It's more like an app launching on a powerful smartphone than the lumbering process familiar to set-top box owners. The updated app will appear on the Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick devices, which have the most powerful processors and are best able to take advantage of the new app, a Roku spokesperson told Tom's Guide.

Roku will begin pushing the updates automatically on Jun 24, but it will be in batches, so that Roku can monitor how the update is performing, another spokesperson told us. If you don't see the update on your Roku 3 or Streaming Stick next Tuesday and just can't wait, you can try forcing a manual update. Roku representatives weren't certain that this would download the update on June 24, as the updates may be parceled out for different batches of device serial numbers on different dates. But it's worth a try. 

Here's how to do a manual update:

1) From the Home screen, use the remote to scroll down to Settings

2) Press the Select button on the remote to advance to the Settings menu

3) Scroll down to System Update and press the Select button again

4) Press Select one more time to activate the Check Now, which will ping Roku's servers to see if there is an update and download it

Fans of Hulu, Amazon or other streaming services on Roku won't see any benefits with those apps, at least for now. But presumably, there is no reason these apps can't also get an upgrade to launch faster, as well. It seems to be a matter of the new processor's speed rather than anything else.

Follow Sean Captain @seancaptain and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

This article was updated to replace incorrect information a Roku representative provided about the devices that will get the update.

Sean Captain is a freelance technology and science writer, editor and photographer. At Tom's Guide, he has reviewed cameras, including most of Sony's Alpha A6000-series mirrorless cameras, as well as other photography-related content. He has also written for Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.