ZwiftHQ has confirmed the imminent release of Zwift on Apple TV, with game master Jon Mayfield putting the estimated release date as “weeks, not months out.” While they are not accepting additional beta testers at this time, a new batch of invites has just been sent out to increase the number of testers. Assuming that additional testing goes well, the release will happen soon.
What’s the Big Deal?
Zwift releasing on Apple TV is hugely important for the Zwift community because Apple TV will be the lowest-price option available for anyone wanting a quality Zwifting experience. It puts Zwift within reach of many more users.
I asked Jon why there has been such a long delay from the beta release (I’ve been a beta tester since early May) to the live launch, and he explained:
We were focusing on features our current users would enjoy, while we waited to see if a new Apple TV would come out. For all we knew Apple was going to abandon the ATV and leave it with 3-4 year old hardware, which is not really sufficient to run Zwift nicely on a big screen.
Makes sense. And it sounds like Zwift was smart to wait… Apple announced the new Apple TV 4k in September, and it can now be purchased for as little as $179.
Let’s Talk Picture Quality
This version of Apple TV (the 5th generation) sports an upgraded A10X Fusion chip (the same chip used in the current iPad Pro), allowing it to run in Zwift’s “1080 Basic” profile, as opposed to running in the “720 Basic” profile which the 4th generation Apple TV uses. To be more specific, Jon says:
Apple TV 4k runs the 3D part at 1920×1080 and the 2D user interface runs at your native TV resolution (so, that part would be in 4k if you have a 4k tv).
Jon also had this to say in a Facebook post when comparing the 4th generation Apple TV to the new Apple TV 4k:
I think there’s a huge perceptible difference between the two. ATV4k will run smooth the entire time and runs at full 1080P, with a 4k user interface layered on top. It also supports glowing things (think Tron bike wheels) and has room for us to make the graphics even better.
Older Apple TV is an old iPhone 6 blown up to full screen. Gonna look pretty rough.
I’ve tested Zwift on my 4th generation Apple TV, and the quality level is pretty good–like Jon says, it’s the iPhone 6 blown up to full screen. Fairly smooth, but lacking some detail in the graphics.
If there’s a “huge perceptible difference between the two” then I’m sure Zwifters will be very happy with their experience on Apple TV 4k.