Roku is starting to roll out Roku OS version 9.4 and the big new feature is the addition of Apple Airplay 2 and HomeKit support. AirPlay allows users to cast video from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to a supported Roku device, providing a decent alternative to Apple’s own Apple TV hardware and a new way to watch HBO Max on Rokus, since the app is still not available on the platform. HomeKit support allows for control of compatible Roku devices through Siri voice commands and Apple’s Home app.
The Roku models receiving AirPlay and HomeKit support are the Roku Ultra (4800x, 4670x, 4661x, 4662x, 4660x, 4640x), Roku Streaming Stick+ (3811x, 3810x), Roku Premiere (4630x, 4620x, 3920x), Roku Smart Soundbar (9101x, 9100x), Roku Streambar (9102x), and select Roku TVs (Axxxx, Cxxxx, CxxGB, 7xxxx). Power and basic remote commands can be controlled through HomeKit on the Roku boxes and Sticks, while the volume and input on Roku soundbars and TVs can also be controlled.
At just $39.99, and often on sale for less, as it is now for $29.00, the Roku Premiere is now the least expensive AirPlay receiver on the market. If you or your household members are heavy iPhone users, it might be worth picking one up just for the casting capabilities alone. There are several apps that add AirPlay support to Fire TV devices, of which I recommend and use the $2.99 AirReceiver app, but all of these apps are not going to be as reliable as a device with official support, since the Fire TV apps all reverse engineer the AirPlay protocol. Now that Apple is making AirPlay support available to 3rd-party devices, like Rokus, the hope is for Amazon to eventually add AirPlay support to Fire TV devices, but Amazon has not indicated that it is coming.