Tuesday, April 9, 2024

New Roku rules for accessibility compatibility

Roku is putting out some new rules regarding apps and accessibility functions. Starting this Fall, Roku will require apps to meet the requirements to be in the Roku Channel Store (their app store).

We're not talking about just new apps; we're talking about existing apps as well.

Yes, that means if an app you like doesn't meet the rules, it gets booted from Roku's Channel Store.

Among the things Roku is requiring is that apps respect the device settings. Today, some apps have their own closed caption settings, for instance, and ignore the settings for the device. I can tell you from first-hand experience that such behavior is frustrating.

I use captions for British programs -- yes, they speak English, but it's not the same -- and for some movies and TV shows that make it hard to hear because of the music or background sounds. If someone needed the captions, I can see that would be very frustrating.

According to Cord Cutters News, this is about to change, and includes Autoplay functionality as well:

Roku will also require channels to honor a new autoplay rule that allows Roku owners to disable auto-play on all apps with a single click. This is something we learned about earlier this year but is now being required of app developers.

Certification Requirement: If autoplay is disabled on a device, channels may not begin video playback until the user navigates to a video or explicitly starts playback. Once playback begins, channels may continue playing the video until the user navigates away from it, pauses it, turns the device off, or a screensaver starts. Channels must adhere to this requirement to pass certification (Effective October 1, 2024).

Developers can use the roDeviceInfo.isAutoPlayEnabled() function to check whether auto-play video is enabled or disabled on a device. This function returns a flag indicating the current state of the auto-play setting. Developers can use this function to ensure that the auto-play device setting is respected when customers browse content in their apps.

Both of these changes are small, but developers need to follow them, or they won’t be able to be on Roku players or Roku TVs going forward.

My Streaming Life doesn't absolutely require captions, but it is great to see that the functionality that is expected will be delivered.

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