Apple TV Bluetooth Sensor Connecting Problems

I’ve been using Zwift and Apple TV for about a month now. All this time there have been persistent problems with connecting Bluetooth sensors to Zwift. My configuration:

Zwift 1.0.32972 on Apple TV 4k with tvOS 12.1.2 (16K534)
Elite Qubo Smart Digital B+
Stages Gen3 power meter
Polar H7 heart rate monitor
Android smartphone with Zwift Companion app

I use Stages to control power because it is more accurate than Qubo. Cadence comes from Stages or Qubo. Heart rate comes from Polar HRM. This means 3 devices in addition to the Apple TV remote. As we know this is a configuration Apple TV can’t handle.

I have difficulties connecting the sensors via Zwift Companion app. Two sensors are usually picked up by Apple TV, but the third doesn’t usually connect via the Companion app. There is the typical message about Apple TV running out of BT connections, but usually the sensors are not picked up by the Companion app even after waiting and removing the HRM battery for a while. The smartphone is in the same WiFi network as the Apple TV and its data connection has been disabled. Sensors are not paired with any device.

Without exaggerating even a bit, I’ve spent several hours trying to get the sensors to connect to Zwift and I’ve missed numerous Zwift events because it just doesn’t connect the sensors properly. The sensors should connect without any hassles, removing batteries, shutting down/turning on BT or doing things in a certain order. This is a critical bug that requires fixing! I bought the Apple TV because I wanted things to work easily. I have no technical problems connecting sensors and running Zwift on a MacBook Air, but the Apple TV is there for the purpose of not needing to carry the laptop around the house and connect the charger and video projector cables on every Zwift session.

There is something fundamentally wrong with sensor connecting. When a third and fourth Bluetooth sensor appear, Zwift should immediately kick out / unpair those devices from Apple TV and connect them to Companion app and just work. Alternatively, would it be possible to save a functioning configuration when it sometimes happens to work? Then when Zwift is started the following time, it would connect the sensors in exactly the same way there were saved. Now it starts to guess where each sensor connects and usually this means Zwift session time goes to playing with nonfunctional sensor pairing.

This really should work easily and not frustrate customers to no end. Today it took about half an hour extra time and even then I couldn’t connect all the sensors properly. One of the key points of Zwift is that it is efficient and people can spend 100% of their valuable time training/playing. When paying customers’ time starts to go in solving technical issues, they are not going to like it.

Hi, Petri. I feel your pain. I have experienced the frustration you have at trying to get the Companion app to pair devices properly. The best solution for you is not ideal, but it works: get an ant+ to bluetooth bridge like the NPE CABLE (once they release an android configuration app) or the 4iiii Viiiiva heart rate monitor, to consolidate all of your peripherals into one bluetooth signal paired directly to the AppleTV.

In the meantime, follow the advice you’ve found in the forums. From your write-up it sounds like you’ve done some reading about getting it to work. The best nuggets of wisdom I can suggest from the knowledge out there is:

  • Make sure none of the devices you want to pair through the Companion app are paired to anything else, not even your phone… let the Zwift game do the pairing. If the devices have previously been paired to the macbook, make sure the macbook is turned off.

  • If a device you’re trying to pair through the companion app in the pairing screen says “No Signal”, unpair the device by clicking its tile in the pairing screen and then re-pair it by clicking the tile again. Hopefully it will show up at that time with a phone icon and be paired properly.

  • If re-pairing it doesn’t work, take the battery out of the device long enough for any bluetooth connecitons it might have to time out, 30 seconds or so. Turn your phone’s bluetooth antenna off for 30 seconds. Put the battery back in and turn on the phone’s bluetooth again. Hopefully then the device will show up as being available in the pairing screen.

  • If it still isn’t working you might have some wireless interference going on. Some suggestions here would be to relocate your router away from your pain cave, change your router frequency from 2.4 GHz to 5 Ghz, shutting down all other bluetooth devices (speakers, earbuds, whatever) in the area.

I agree that it should “just work” but I think that until Apple reworks the AppleTV to not have the 3-bluetooth channel limitation, the variables involved in using the companion app as a bridge are just too great to easily overcome. I use the Viiiiva heart rate monitor as an ant+ bridge and it works great.

The instruction bullets 2 and 3 I’ve tried many many times and I can understand why both have the “Hopefully then the device will show up”. It is a random chance that the device shows up in the pairing screen.

Typically I do or try to do the pairing so that Apple TV’s two Bluetooth connections are used by Qubo’s FE-C and Stages’ power meter and cadence. This is usually working. HRM is immediately found via Apple TV’s Bluetooth and when Zwift asks to use it via Companion app, yes is answered. At this stage HRM tile says “No Signal”. Bluetooth on the Android smartphone with the Companion app is turned on. Click on the Zwift HRM tile to unpair HRM and then again click to pair it. Sometimes HRM is found via Companion app and sometimes not. Even if the Android smartphone’s Bluetooth setup panel sees the HRM (= it is not paired with anything else), Zwift doesn’t always see the HRM via Companion app. It would indicate to me that the problem is in Zwift or Companion app. The HRM is free to be used and should be pairable with Companion app but it doesn’t happen.

Today at the Zwift session start sensors were quickly paired. When I paused the session for about 10 minutes, it was impossible to get the HRM pair via Companion app when the session was resumed. I tried many times with the instructions above. It just won’t pair via Companion app and the HRM is not paired with anything else. Why is the Companion app not pairing itself with HRM?

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In my experience, pairing devices through the android companion app to the apple tv is very unstable. It might be due to a weak wifi signal, it might be due to interference in the 2.4 Mhz band utilized by both the wifi and the bluetooth. It might be due to 3rd party apps pairing in the background. I don’t know why. It probably isn’t entirely a programming thing on Zwift’s end.

What I do know is that after I switched to using an ANT+ bridge in order to pair all devices directly to the AppleTV without having to rely on the companion app, I have had a very reliable and stable experience.

Some people have reported better stability by switching their wifi to 5Mhz. Also force-stopping or uninstalling any other apps that might have paired to the hrm in the past, especially the wahoo utiltity app. Turning on airplane mode and enabling only wifi and bluetooth. It also would help, when taking a break, if there were a way to keep the hrm from falling asleep or losing its connection to the companion app.

This thread has some good suggestions: