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

(View all)
Avatar
63 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)
Avatar
63 months ago
Amazing! Steam should bring this to Apple TV!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
63 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)
Avatar
63 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)
Avatar
63 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)
Avatar
63 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

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of 3rd party widgets at launch, iOS users around the...

iPhone 12 Lineup Rumored to Be Named 'iPhone 12 mini,' 'iPhone 12,' 'iPhone 12 Pro,' and 'iPhone 12 Pro Max'

Monday September 21, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared the alleged naming for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup on Twitter. The tweet proposes that the upcoming iPhone 12 models will be titled "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max." The names likely correspond to the three expected sizes of iPhone 12, with the 5.4-inch model being the iPhone 12 mini, the 6.7-inch model ...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

AirPods Studio Rumored to Come With U1 Chip, Ultra-Wideband Said to Be Vital to Future Apple Ecosystem

Sunday September 20, 2020 6:17 am PDT by
Proven leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared a range of information about the ultra-wideband U1 chip in Apple's upcoming AirTags item trackers and AirPods Studio headphones. The first of a series of tweets shared today simply stated that AirPods Studio will contain an ultra-wideband U1 chip. It seems likely that the U1 chip would be used in AirPods Studio to track the location of...

Kuo: Apple to Accelerate Adoption of Mini-LED Displays in iPad and Mac Notebook Lineups

Sunday September 20, 2020 10:00 pm PDT by
Increased competition among Apple's suppliers for mini-LED display chips will accelerate the company's adoption of the advanced technology in its iPad and MacBook lineups, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. Kuo says that while Epistar had been predicted to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED chips for Apple products in 2021, Sanan Optoelectronics...

Top Stories: Apple Event Recap, Apple Watch Series 6, Redesigned iPad Air, and More

Saturday September 19, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week's news was obviously dominated by Apple's media event and the launch of iOS 14, but there was a lot to digest, so check out our summary below for the high-level view of the past week. With the exception of the massively redesigned iPad Air, all of the new hardware introduced this week is starting to appear on store shelves and on customers' doorsteps, while all of the new software...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...