Los Angeles Times

Roku, which makes devices for streaming internet video on television sets, announced last week that it plans to develop a voice assistant and let manufacturers create Roku-connected speakers, stepping up its competition with Apple, Google and Amazon.com.

Owners of Roku TVs and players will get the voice-powered Roku Entertainment Assistant free in a fall software update, the company said. The assistant will enable users to use voice commands to play music, TV shows and movies on voice-supported Roku devices.

Roku also envisions being at the center of a home entertainment network with which people can easily connect a smart soundbar, add speakers in different rooms and control them with voice commands.

Under Roku’s licensing program, third-party companies can make sound bars, smart speakers and audio systems that use Roku Connect software, which enables users to connect those elements wirelessly and control them with voice commands or a single remote control. Equipment makers also will be able to license smart soundbar and speaker hardware reference designs, as well as the Roku operating system, Roku said.

Google, Amazon and Apple offer streaming-video boxes that connect with their respective voice assistants, but Roku has hung on to a large wedge of market share.