Zwift has integrated beautifully into the Apple iOS ecosystem. But there has been one holdout the Apple TV. With the Apple TV4 running a version of iOS allowing for App loading, Zwift is about to complete their roll-out across all Apple products, creating one of the fastest routes to creating for yourself a hard wires pain cave. Let’s take a look at what Zwift has done!
Zwift Apple TV – Zwift Completes iOS rollout – Zwift Gear Test
Understandably the first thing that you need to get Zwift running on your Apple TV is the correct Apple TV – i.e. an Apple TV 4. Versions before don’t run the same iOS based operating system that is needed to be able to load apps and be able to receive inputs from other Bluetooth devices. Zwift is essentially commandeering the system that allows gamepads to work with the Apple Tv 4 to get access to our cycling sensor data.
Currently, like Zwift iOS before it, Zwift Apple Tv is beta mode, thus needing an independent install via the TestFlight app
Once you are installed, though, the Zwift experience is very similar to that which we are used to, but with the addition of the Apple TV remote
You use the touchpad on the remote to scroll across the various buttons on Zwift. It is a little bit of an odd feeling. It is not as direct as the touch screen interface on iOS, but at the same time feels less intuitive/accurate than using a mouse.
Actually logging into Zwift with the remote is a little tiresome it has to be said when just using the touch pad
The reason being is actually quite simple – a touch pad is not a great text input device
Apple have tried to implement a text to speech engine on the Apple TV4, using the remote, but still not the best method of inputting your password,
Really you need to be a little deeper in the Apple Ecosystem, and just use your iPhone as the remote to enter the text
Once you have logged in, though, you can use previously stored emails, as we are used to seeing on the iOS version of Zwift
From the login, we start as usual on the pairing screen, like on Zwift iOS, on the Apple TV you are only going to be able to directly pair with BlueTooth Sensors, or via an ANT+ bridge such as the WASP CABLE or the 4iiii Viiiiva
So are there any major changes to the interface on Zwift on the Apple TV?
Not really for the user. You are be able to bring up the gestures menu by pressing the trackpad on the Apple TV remote, and swiping LEFT and RIGHT before selecting the action you want.
Personally, I think you are as well off to use the Zwift Companion app for gestures. However, if we look at the Zwift Apple TV, as a completely standalone Zwift package then the remote works well. Said with the caveat that I have yet to try out the remote when it is covered in sweat – although it can’t be any harder to use than the iPhone screen covered in sweat!
That said, sometimes it is the little things which surprise. The selection of course turning was made much easier using the Apple remote, as it is a dedicated input device, whilst on a ride, it is likely that you’ll be using for phone for other things. I have to confess I have occasionally missed a turn due to waiting for the Zwift Companion app to reconnect
What about the graphics?As the Apple TV uses the A8 chip, as found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it gives you an idea as to exactly what you are going to expect. Basically just the same as iOS Zwift, just slightly crisper. You do get the benefit that there slightly better responsiveness compared to if you are AirPlaying to and AppleTV
The beta version I’ve using gives you a little FPS counter in the top corner, and the system never really appears to struggle. Jon and his team clearly know their software!
Zwift Apple TV Conclusion
So that is pretty much Zwift on Apple TV. We’ve got a new input device, which the team are working to refine. There is a discussion about tweaks to the interface, which would be useful. In the current beta version, the remote is functional but isn’t perfect for general navigation. But then in the next breath, the remote is quite effective for the gestures menu. I’d like to see if Zwift can do anything further with the remote, perhaps using the internal gyro to swipe between segment times on the LEFT?
Ultimately, I think the Apple TV makes great sense for a cheap, hardwired pain cave. Personally, I’m not a slave to graphics generally, so using Zwift on AppleTV is probably going to replace the older MacBook Pro we keep in the pain cave, just for ease of use!
So nothing else really to talk about… well there is actually, but I’ve been asked not to show it off yet! For the new release of Zwift, Jon’s team have a small addition to the software. Not earth shattering, but definitely on the “Aahhh, that’s nice” level of things!
So there you go, Zwift Apple TV!