Roku launches new personal-use developer kit

Roku is launching a new independent developer kit that will allow developers to “experiment with and customize their devices” in personal-use capacities. Roku says it hopes the IDK will lead to innovation around internet-of-things applications, such as connecting a Roku device to a thermostat or game development.

Roku unveiled its plans for the new IDK at its online developer summit this week. The company made it clear in an announcement about the IDK that its Roku SDK will remain the primary channel development kit for commercial applications but said that the new developer kit “enables developers to explore the platform’s capabilities and personalize their Roku experience.”

The company isn’t quite clear on how developers will use the new IDK, Roku’s VP of content partnerships Tedd Cittadine said during a keynote address, but its primary purpose is to help Roku continue to innovate its platform. Some applications might include building games that work specifically with the Roku remote or building apps to control smart home devices around the house.

“Developers can use the IDK and code in their favorite programming language to create applications beyond streaming channels,” the company said in an FAQ about the new developer kit. “For example, developers can build applications in JavaScript that pull together data from various sources, effectively turning their TV monitor into a snapshot view of their daily news, weather, calendar appointments, and even traffic conditions for their office commute.”

Roku did specify that IDK applications will not be supported on Roku TVs, streambars, or its legacy streaming players. Roku devices will also need to be running Roku OS 10.5 or higher. In addition to the IDK launch, Roku announced it’s also launching a new beta channel tool for developers to test their apps before making changes live on the platform.

Lastly, the company said that it will be removing non-certified channels from its platform by March of next year. These channels are SDK channels that are used for testing by developers. A spokesperson for the company said that they are “not published to the Roku channel store or shared publicly because in most cases, they are channels that are being tested ahead of launch.” The company declined to comment on how many non-certified channels would be affected by the change.