New Apple TV Shown Streaming Steam Games From PC Using Unofficial Client

by

Developer Kevin Smith, who previously demonstrated a version of the MAME emulator running on the new Apple TV, has now made some tweaks to existing open source tools to allow game streaming from a PC to the new Apple TV. Smith took advantage of the Moonlight iOS open source project based on NVIDIA's GameStream, modifying it to run on tvOS.

Using this modified version of Moonlight iOS, Smith was able to stream games from Steam on a PC directly to the Apple TV. Without the need to run directly on the Apple device, streamed games can appear as high-quality as the source computer allows, with obvious Wi-Fi and streaming strength limitations taken into account when used without a wired Ethernet connection. In the video below, Smith tests the Moonlight client out on the new Apple TV with popular open-world game Grand Theft Auto V.

Caution: Gameplay audio includes profanity

With the launch of the new Apple TV at the end of October, Apple took its first significant steps into the world of couch gaming, thanks to a full App Store for third-party apps included on the new tvOS operating system for the platform.

Although the Apple TV supports wireless gaming controllers that account for a few exceptions, most of the gaming apps that function best on the Apple TV remain as iOS-like side-scrollers and platforms rather than more sophisticated console-level games.

While it is still in the early days for the new Apple TV, momentum does appear to be building. For example, Facebook last week announced a new SDK for developers to "build immersive social experiences" on Apple TV with a number of features including a confirmation code login system that can bypass the cumbersome text entry of the Apple TV.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 14
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

SSD-GUY Avatar
65 months ago
What? No lag? My mouse lags when I mirror my display from my MacBook Air to my Apple TV 3. It's a slight lag but would be annoying during gaming, especially aiming.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mistafro Avatar
65 months ago
Amazing! Steam should bring this to Apple TV!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jamie0003 Avatar
65 months ago
I love the steam link and controller and got mine at launch, but always thought this was a much better solution. Why have two devices when it can be done on the Apple TV? Hopefully Apple will allow this in the AppStore one day if Steam decides to port it over.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Aichon Avatar
65 months ago

Apple for some reason cheaped out and stuck a 10/100 port on a $150 HD streaming box in 2015...wireless AC gets throughput about on par to a wired gigabit connection, so way more than a 100Mbps connection. It sucks for me because my Apple TV literally sits right next to my router.

You should hook it up! And 10/100 actually makes a great deal of sense.

I'll go into a bit more detail below since Internet networking was my field of research in grad school, but the TL;DR version for why 10/100 is superior to 802.11ac for in-home game streaming is relatively straightforward:
[LIST=1]
* Bandwidth doesn't matter*. 1080p streaming typically only requires about 5 Mbps at most, so the extra throughput that wireless provides won't give you any benefit.
* Latency matters a lot. As any online gamer can tell you, lag kills, and wireless connections suffer from lag spikes that are both more frequent and more severe.

* Again, speaking solely with regards to in-home game streaming. Obviously, bandwidth matters in a number of different situations.

And now, to get into more detail...

Video streams come in two flavors: compressed and uncompressed. Uncompressed streams typically only get used in professional settings (e.g. newsroom, sporting event, etc.) or between dedicated video devices (e.g. blu-ray content streamed over HDMI). When it comes to what we typically think of as "video streaming" (e.g. Netflix, YouTube, Steam in-home streaming, etc.), we're dealing with compressed video streams

Compressed streams, as you'd expect, have been reduced in size so that we don't have to send as much data over the network. A compressed 1080p stream typically clocks in between 1 Mbps and 5 Mbps, which is why even a poor Internet connection is sufficient to watch Netflix in 1080p just fine. As for the higher resolutions (e.g. 1440p, 2K, 4K, 5K, 8K, etc.), the new Apple TV can't handle them anyway, so we need not concern ourselves with them.

Now, you might be asking: why not just use an uncompressed stream? After all, it'd mean we could skip the processing needed to encode/decode the stream, along with the lag introduced by the processing. The answer for that is rather simple: uncompressed streams are MASSIVE. An uncompressed 1080p stream starts out at more than a gigabit Ethernet connection can handle and only goes up from there.

All of which is to say, bandwidth won't be a bottleneck, regardless of whether you go wired or wireless, since uncompressed streaming is not an option and they both have far more than enough to handle a compressed stream.

In fact, about the only benefit a gigabit Ethernet connection would provide is that app downloads may go faster, but for that to be true, you'd have to have an above-average Internet connection, given that most Internet connections lack the bandwidth to fill even a 10/100 connection, let alone take advantage of gigabit.

As for latency, I recall that Valve once posted a great graph highlighting the differences between wired and wireless for in-home streaming, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find it. What I do recall, however, is that the graph really showed off why Valve strongly recommends wired for in-home streaming.

The biggest reason is spikes in latency. Even under the best of conditions in a home, wireless connections will still deal with frequent latency spikes. They won't be a problem if all you're doing is watching YouTube, since that content is buffered, but for in-home streaming, you can't be buffering like that. As such, you feel each of those spikes much more acutely.

A lesser reason is that wireless just has a higher overhead in terms of latency than wired. Which is to say, given typical conditions, a wired connection will on average get back to you with a reply a few milliseconds faster than a wireless one. It's small enough to be imperceptible to most people, but those little delays can add up, so for gamers, every bit counts.

Anyway, hope that explains why I'd recommend the wired connection over the wireless one any day when it comes to in-home streaming. And, really, I'd just recommend it in general when it comes to the current Apple TV. Until they upgrade it to handle higher resolutions or app downloads gets prohibitively large, there's really no need for gigabit throughput.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
H2SO4 Avatar
65 months ago

If I could play my Steam games on Apple TV that would be sweet! Although, this would of corse possibly dip Steam's "Steam Link" sales. But would be worth having on tvOS for sure!

The only obstacles left soon will be the game studios and the penchant they have for making exclusives for the PS4 and Xbone. Oh and whether we will be allowed to run the Moonlight client without Apple shutting it down.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Icaras Avatar
65 months ago
This sounds awesome but I also think Apple is missing a big opportunity by not offering its own version of the Steam Link functionality into the Apple TV. Microsoft is also working on being able to stream games, both ways, between PC and Xbox One.

While being able to stream Windows content to the Apple TV sounds like a dream, I wish Apple would do this OS X and expand on AirPlay gaming that is closer to lag free, supports controller connection to OS X, and is built into the "Computers" app on Apple TV so I could simply browse my games on OS X and launch them directly from my Apple TV.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...
0 Deals Hero

Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Deals to Plan For

Saturday November 21, 2020 10:00 am PST by
In the lead-up to Black Friday next week, we've been putting a spotlight on the best deals coming from various retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. In an effort to further prepare our readers for the best Black Friday deals, we're breaking down what we think should be on your radar for Black Friday in 2020. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
app store christmas icon

Apple Shutting Down App Store Connect From December 23 to December 27

Monday November 23, 2020 10:14 am PST by
Apple shuts down App Store Connect for a week around the holidays each year in an effort to give App Store staff time off from work. This year, App Store Connect will be unavailable from December 23 to December 27. With App Store Connect unavailable, Apple will not accept new apps or app updates, so all pricing changes and new app submissions need to be locked in before those dates for...
Target November Deals 1

Black Friday Spotlight: Target Begins Week-Long Sale With Deals on iPhone 12, Powerbeats Pro, and More

Monday November 23, 2020 8:07 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Target. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....
ipad pro 2020 display

Black Friday Week Kicks Off With Up to $150 Savings on 2020 iPad Pro

Sunday November 22, 2020 2:37 pm PST by
As we head into Black Friday week, we're seeing some of the best deals of the season so far, with Amazon and Best Buy today discounting the latest iPad Pro models by up to $150 at the lowest prices we've ever tracked on these models. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
macos big sur m1 macs restore issue

Apple Provides Instructions to Fix macOS Reinstallation Errors on M1 Macs

Sunday November 22, 2020 3:30 pm PST by
Shortly after the launch of Apple's new M1 Macs, we saw reports that attempts to restore and reinstall macOS on those machines right away could result in an installation error that would leave your Mac non-functional. Specifically, the error message would read: "An error occurred preparing the update. Failed to personalize the software update. Please try again." Over the weekend, Apple p...
max tech xcode benchmark m1 macbook

Video Demos Performance Differences Between 8GB and 16GB Apple M1 MacBook Pro

Monday November 23, 2020 2:54 pm PST by
All of the M1 Mac models use the same M1 chip, so the upgrade options are limited to SSD storage space and RAM. We haven't seen many comparisons that demonstrate the difference between a machine with 8GB RAM and the upgraded 16GB RAM option, but Max Tech today shared a video highlighting the performance between an 8GB MacBook Pro and a 16GB MacBook Pro. The video includes a series of...
iPhone 6s main

Rumor Claims iOS 15 to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and Original iPhone SE

Sunday November 22, 2020 9:25 am PST by
Apple will drop support for the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus in next year's release of iOS 15, according to a rumor shared today by Israeli site The Verifier. If the rumor is accurate, that would mean iOS 15 will be compatible with the following Apple devices: 2021 iPhone series iPhone 12 Pro Max iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 mini iPhone 12 iPhone 11 iPhone 11 Pro iPhone 11 Pro ...
new mac mini logicpro screen

M1 Macs Able to Run Up to Six External Displays Using DisplayLink

Tuesday November 24, 2020 6:53 am PST by
It is possible to run up to six external displays from the M1 Mac mini, and five external displays from the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the aid of DisplayPort adapters, according to YouTuber Ruslan Tulupov. This far exceeds Apple's specified limits on external displays with the M1 Macs. Apple's host of new M1 Macs are not capable of supporting as many external displays as their...