Best Apple TV configuration

apple-tv-4k

(Lee Hayward) #1

Hi all,

Long time zwifter here, but I’m getting increasing frustrated with the experience using my computer for Ziwft. It has been near flawless for the last 2 years, but I have started to experience in-game crashes, twice recently these have happened in the middle of both the Tour de London and Tour de Zwift. Last night I was unable to complete my ride and may have to ride the course again tonight.

This perhaps got me thinking that my desktop (all-in-one) PC is not quite up to it any more so I’m contemplating Apple TV as the best bang for your buck update. I was wondering a couple of things, what is the best configuration in terms of sensors i.e. does the companion app work consistently well for linking the 3rd sensor? Or is the Ant+ bridge the way to go? Finally, I noted on a zwift post (https://zwift.com/news/4044-hear-what-zwifters-are-saying-about-apple-tv) that Apple TV does not support custom workouts. I presume this means that reguar ‘in-game’ workouts work just fine and it only the custom element to them that doesn’t yet work?

Many Thanks,
Lee


(Huwelfedus Maximus) #2

I can’t vouch for Android but if you’ve an iPhone the Apple TV 4K works wonderfully, with near instant start up times.
I run all my sensors through the phone and works every time now that I’m used to how things work.

It’s a great system and far far cheaper than getting a dedicated pc.


(Godmother Fox) #3

I have this combo: Kickr->ios Companion (iPad) -> Apple TV ->big old plasma TV. Just some comments:

  • I bought Apple TV just because of Zwift, but it’s a quite nice item and I can use it for other purposes, also

  • it’s cheap (well, it’s relative, but I’ve found it cheap in comparison with other possible solutions)

  • easy and nice setup - no wires all around, just connect to TV. “Plug and play”…

  • BT works fine for me (never tried ANT+, and never needed)

  • works quite reliable - I had just two connection drops (not sure what happened exactly - maybe Wifi issue ??), but AppleTV didn’t receive watt info from the trainer, so avatar stopped. I restarted both applications (companion on ipad, zwift on appleTV) and it worked again (even the “open/unfinished” ride was still available on zwift so I could continue and didn’t lose any data)

  • you need some iOS device (to run companion app, if you need it) as I’m not sure if Android companion is as good/reliable as iOS one, currently. But again, I’m not sure, here. I owned Apple Ipad and iPhone, already so have never tried anything else.

  • (edited: note this point is NOT 100% correct … see Aaron’s and my post below … )
    limited BT channels (only three). If you need more then 3 signals, it can be fixed by “bridging” signal. I use companion app to send 4 signals (Watts, controllable, heart, cadence from my Kickr). Some trainers needn’t more than three (Neo), or you can bridge signal via another device like Viva4iiii …

  • AppleTV remote - horrible design and in combination with Zwift it’s even worse. I can live with it … but it’s good just to start Zwift and ride. I have installed Zwift on my computer for more “delicate” jobs - like avatar customization, workouts editing, editing my personal data, FTP, etc … During the ride, I use companion app to control my ride (so I can avoid that nasty remote), but not all functions are available via companion … so sometimes(rarely) I have to use remote.

  • Zwift graphics/details on AppleTV is probably not as perfect/detailed, as you can achieve on some new powerful (gaming) PC. But it’s still fine for my old humble eyes and my old TV (no, I don’t have 4K screen/monitor :-))) = no problem for me … Moreover, I don’t consider Zwift a real game, where all those extra super details are important, so I don’t care for some graphical glitches, imperfections …

  • AppleTV is closed system and you can’t access some internal files. For example, you can’t access FIT files where your rides are stored (if you need it for whatever reason). You can’t use some “hacks” like WORLD switch, etc … Unpleasant, but tolerable…

  • Edit/added later - you can’t switch off that “beautiful” intro music on AppleTV Zwift app :-))))

  • probably I forgot to mention other important facts, so I’m sorry and hope another guy will complete the list. If I made any mistake in my info, please correct me … appreciate in advance …

In the end - the most important question: would I buy/use this setup again? Answer - yes, no hesitation. I’d buy AppleTV to run Zwift again. It has some weaker points, but works great for me and my needs …


Edit/added later - custom workouts - NO PROBLEM here. All workouts are available on AppleTV, too (either predefined or custom ones). If you need to create/modify your workout, no problem - I use Zwift installed on my MacBook Pro - I do what needed, save it and then the workout is synced via my account = it’s available on AppleTV Zwift.


(Aaron Zwanzig) #4

@Godmother_Fox hit all of the points I might make about ATV far better than I would have, so I won’t repeat them here. But I can speak to the reliability of pairing devices through the Android companion app. In short, it sucks.

The ATV is rock solid for reliability with devices paired directly through its own bluetooth. But it only has 2 channels available. Because i use a Kickr along with hrm and a cadence sensor, I need 3 channels. I spent 2 months trying to work out a reliable system to get a device paired through the android companion app that would consistently pair without a lot of effort and that would maintain its connection without dropouts. Neither is possible with the Android companion app. To be fair, the dropouts are likely a matter of my wifi router not being robust enough. But the challenges associated with getting a device to pair to the conpanion app are associated with both the ATV’s bluetooth limitation and Zwift’s programming.

In the end I got a 4iiii Viiiiva heart rate monitor to bridge the cadence sensor’s ant+ signal. The CABLE bridge was not an option for me because I have no other ios device in the house besides the ATV, which I bought specifically for Zwift. Since making that move, everything pairs easily and without dropouts. I can even take a break where i take off the hrm, run to the bathroom, come back and wake up the hrm before starting to ride again, and all the numbers start tracking again without having to re-pair. With the companion app, taking a break meant giving up the device it was paired to for the rest of the ride.

Having said all that, I think the ATV works really well for Zwift with the caveats that gm-f detailed above, but even with its remote quirks I am satisfied with it. Just be aware that if you are an Android user the Viiiiva heart rate monitor is pretty much required to get everything to connect well.

Good luck!

Edit to add: I don’t want to come off as completely down on the Android companion app. The app is really handy to use as a remote to control some of the functions in the game that the ATV remote control fails. You can use it to make changes to your route, make ride-on bombs, change camera views and send group messages. Outside the game its useful for reviewing activities and with some limitations, signing up for events. There are some real quirks associated with using the ATV and the Android companion app, but overall I’ve learned to live with them and am satisfied with my experience.


(Godmother Fox) #5

Opss - Aaron is absolutely correct (and I mixed it up in my post above - sorry for that) … AppleTV has only 3 BLE channels, but as one is for remote, there are only TWO available for the user and his needs.

Some trainers are good here - like Neo, which uses one channel for “controlable&watts&cadence” and second for heart monitor. Some, like Kickr, needs 3 - “watts&controlable”, cadence, heart. Thus you need to “bridge it”.

Sorry for any possible confusion … gonna to leave the first post unchanged (numbers are wrong) and post my apologies here :wink:


(Lee Hayward) #6

Guys, great feedback thanks. As I only have an android phone at my disposal, I wanted to garner opinion on that and it seems as if it is anything but reliable. @Aaron_Zwanzig I note you mention the CABLE bridge, which is where I would have gone, but you make mention of the fact it doesn’t work without an IOS device and I’m not quite sure I follow why this would be the case. If I understand it correctly, isn’t the bridge essentially a means of combining several ANT+ signals onto a single BLE channel to communicate with the ATV? I’m not sure (and I have no experience of it) how/why a second IOS device is required.

Many Thanks,
Lee


(Aaron Zwanzig) #7

Good question, and something that really needs to be far more prominently made apparent than it is. The configuration app for the CABLE device is only available on ios. Not android and not tvos. So without an ios device you will be unable to link any devices to it.


(Lee Hayward) #8

Ah brilliant, thanks. I wasn’t aware of that and I don’t have an IOS device to use to configure it. That seems like a bit of an oversight from the CABLE manufactures, as I’m sure android has well over 50% of the Mobile markets.

It therefore seems that the only configuration left for me is the Mobile Link or the 4iiii HR - which I really don’t want to have to purchase on top of both a Garmin and Wahoo TICKR.

Let’s hope that Zwift get back to me and can identify the cause of the increasingly regular and annoying crashes I’m experiencing with windows (albeit on an older, yet powerful machine). I have some reservations about the capability of the graphics card, so I might end up switching to my new Surface Pro 6 tablet, which appears to run 1080P at around 30 FPS fairly well.

Cheers,
Lee


(Aaron Zwanzig) #9

I hear you about not wanting to purchase another hrm. I had an old garmin ant+ hrm, the rigid strap, before subscribing to Zwift. I bought a Tickr to use with Zwift without knowing how much effort i was going to have getting 3 bluetooth devices to work with the ATV. Now that I have a 3rd hrm, I put 1 in my running bag and another in my mtb bag. I’ll keep the Viiiiva with my road bike. And I’ll never be without a hrm on a ride or run again. :rofl:


(Chris Lenthall ) #10

I use the 4iiii heart rate monitor and Bluetooth bridge with my Apple TV and it works flawlessly, I have the Kickr core connected to the ATV and the cadence sensor and my Kickr headwind fan are connected to the 4iiii which then connects to the ATV this also gives me heart rate ,no need to use the companion app if I don’t want


(Ian Brewer) #11

4iiii HR strap user here as well. I have a Kickr 18, cadence sensor & HR strap itself connected & works perfectly.

Used the Companion App previously & it was flaky at best.

If the BLE limitation applies to you I would deffo consider the 4iiii or the CABLE.


(Kyle Washington) #12

I had a CycleOps Mag trainer, Garmin ANT+ Cadence & Speed sensors, Garmin HRM setup at first, so I got the ANT+ dongle and connected to my All in one PC. It worked, but the graphics were bad, and it was cramped in the home office. I went through all of these same decisions mentioned in this thread, and ended up getting the 4iiii HRM and an Apple TV 4K.

In the meantime, I have used the Companion app on an old iPhone 4, an old iPhone 6, Galaxy S7, and Galaxy S8+. Honestly, I never could get the BLE devices running on any of them through the Companion app. The settings tab has a switch to allow connections, but none ever appeared for me. The Companion screen icons look only slightly different in each version, but otherwise the app seemed to work the same on all. So I used the 4iiii app on the iPhone to connect the Garmin Speed and Cadence to the HRM, then I’ve not had to go back to it (except for troubleshooting the issue below).

Now I have the 4iiii and the ATV remote as my only two BLE devices, and it picks up everything. No devices are connected to the companion app. There are only a couple of issues that I’ve found, and it seems to happen about half of the time. I launch Zwift on the ATV, and it immediately closes. I reopen again, and usually by the 3rd time it stays open. (I’ve found that to be the case with other users here on the forums, so I don’t worry about it now.) Once Zwift opens, I choose my profile, and it immediately senses the HRM, Cadence, and Speed sensors.

I pick my training course or workout, and off I go… unless i don’t. Sometimes I can see my heart rate on the screen, and I get a value for cadence, but the speed stays at 0. I can go back to the pairing screen, and it shows all 3 values perfectly - but then I go back to the riding screen and my speed stays 0. At first I checked connectivity with 4iiii, tried new batteries, etc. Turns out that it’s much simpler than that. Turns out it’s just the Zwift app on the ATV.

If I choose to unpair, and repair - it then shows my 4iiii connection as a Power Source and not as having a Speed Sensor. I switch it to Speed Sensor for pairing, tell it I have a CycleOps mag trainer, and then it works great for a session or two. I should also note that if this process goes wonky, I double-click the home (TV) button on the ATV remote, force close Zwift, and reopen. It’s not that bad - it just sounds tedious in a forum post. In practice it’s very quick.

Even with all of this detail, it seems like it’s so much better of an experience than it did with the ANT+ dongle on the pc.


(Kirsten De Weerd (BZR)) #13

If you don’t want the startup music, play some music to the Apple TV through Airplay prior to starting the Zwift app. You’ll still have the environment and notification sounds, but game music gets overruled by the music being airplayed.


(Godmother Fox) #14

Good to know …I’ll give it a try … Thank you for info :+1:


(Rikki Furman) #15

I can’t use the iPhone or iPad as you suggest. On a classic trainer with ant dongle. Any suggestions?


(Lin Alan) #16

Apple TV 4K w/a Neo.

Super simple and reliable. In the last year, only once have I had an issue, resistance dropout. Still have no idea what happened. Gremlins? Glitch in the matrix?

I also have the 4iiii Viiiiva HRM which is also quite excellent. My bike has a p2max power meter which is ANT+ only. Using the Viiiiva HRM, I bridge both cadence and power from the p2max. In total, the Viiiiva HRM is sending HR, power, and cadence in a single BLE connection. Neo uses the other BLE connection as the controllable trainer.

As mentioned above, the Apple TV remote is a bit bleh. If you learn when to flick and when to slowly slide your finger, it’s quite manageable. But even then, it’s definitely not going to win any awards!

You can avoid most if not all Apple TV issues by:

  • Force quitting the Zwift app after every session.
  • Force quitting the Companion app after every session.
  • Making sure everything is the latest version (i.e., TV OS, Zwift app, Companion app) When an update has been pushed and you run an old version, while Zwift will run it may not ideally (e.g., new maps released, but you won’t see said new maps) Do not rely on the auto-update because that is not immediate. If you read there is an update, go manually check for said update. Otherwise, periodically check for updates.

(Jozef Van Der Galitzinbroek) #17

Spot on assessment. Although, I found a fix for the intro music, just turn off the volume to my TV. Problem fixed. I recently switched to a Kickr + Climb from a Neo and could not get all the peripherals to sync with ATV and the iOS app. I like others have mentioned here, bridged it with a 4iii heart rate strap.


(Aaron Zwanzig) #18

@rikki_furman The Apple TV does not have an ant+ receiver, only bluetooth. So the only way to get ant+ to communicate with the Apple TV is via a bridging device like the CABLE (ios only) or Viiiiva (ios or android) heart rate monitor. If you have no ios devices like ipad or iphone then your only option will be the Viiiiva hrm.


(Rikki Furman) #19

Hi,

I have an iPhone and iPad. Is that not enough or I need another cable? I can airplay from my computer but thought with Bluetooth the tv would work with iOS ?


(Aaron Zwanzig) #20

I don’t understand your questions. Are you running Zwift by connecting your trainer to your computer via ant+ or connecting the trainer to the iPad/iPhone via bluetooth? OP was discussing an Apple TV setup. You might want to start your own topic to discuss your specific situation.