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Roku Revamps Mobile App With New Universal Program Guide

Variety logo Variety 1/17/2017 Janko Roettgers
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Roku launched a new version of its mobile companion app for iOS and Android Tuesday that aims to make it easier to find and watch movies and shows on the company’s streaming devices and Roku-powered TVs. The new app features a refreshed design that makes it easier to switch between the individual sections of the app.

One example: Once a user launches a Roku channel from the app, it automatically switches to the in-app remote control to easily navigate through the app’s menus. The in-app remote control itself has also been optimized for one-handed use — a nod to ever-increasing phone screen sizes.

But perhaps the biggest change is that Roku has added  a new program guide called “What’s On.” The new What’s On section is a simplified universal program guide that features content recommendations from a variety of sources, sorted by categories like “Superhero Hits” or “Top Kids Shows.”

Roku’s mobile app previously prominently featured a section called “My Feed” for personalized content recommendations. My Feed, which is also available on Roku streaming devices, allows users to track movies and shows they’re interested in and get notified when these titles appear in their favorite streaming services — a good idea in theory, but one that requires some level of commitment to actually get some use out of it. While not removed completely, my feed has now been deemphasized and effectively rolled into the “What’s On” guide.

Program guides like these have gotten increasingly popular across a number of devices: Apple recently introduced its own program guide for Apple TV, and Samsung unveiled a similar phone-based guide for its smart TVs at CES earlier this month.

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