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Tech by VICE

Here’s What Happens Now When You Push The Radio Button On The Roku Remote

The streaming music service is no more, but its dedicated hardware button lives on.

by Nicholas Deleon
Dec 24 2015, 4:38pm

Image: Nicholas Deleon

There's one final casualty following the death of streaming music service Rdio: the integrity of my Roku's remote control.

Roku late Wednesday sent an email to customers informing them that the streaming music service "is no longer available," and that the dedicated Rdio button on their remote control "will no longer launch Rdio or any other channel."

As of Thursday morning, pressing the dedicated Rdio button launches the app, but users are immediately greeted with an error message and then kicked back to the Roku home screen.

Image: Nicholas Deleon

Older Roku models do not include a dedicated Rdio button, but every single Roku model currently in Amazon's list of top 10 best selling streaming media devices does have the button. That includes the recently released Roku 4, which boasts 4K playback, and the $40 Roku Stick.

Worse, the dedicated Rdio button cannot be reprogrammed to launch another service, a capability that Roku users have been clamoring for for the past several years.

Rdio first launched in the US in 2010 to critical acclaim (particularly regarding its attractive design), but never managed to attract the same kind of mainstream attention as Spotify. Streaming radio service Pandora in November bought Rdio's technology and other assets for $75 million, with the service itself shutting down this past Tuesday. Former Rdio customers can still log into their accounts to export their playlists as well as look back on trivia like their first played song and most played album.

Roku concluded its email to customers by wishing them a "happy streaming season," but a truly thoughtful gift would have been to either offer a replacement remote, sans vestigial Rdio button, or designed the remote in the first place to be user-programmable.

So long, Rdio. I'll always remember you—if only because I can't get rid of your button.