Consider this post a Zwift potpourri of updates. Depending on your time zone on this planet, last night Zwift rolled out a new update that adds a bunch of new pavement (and dirt..and sand) to the platform, while also bringing back some previous features. Furthermore, they have outlined a bit of an update plan to get the recently released Apple TV 2022 fully supported.
Let’s dive into it.
General Zwift Update:
While the big ticket item in this Zwift update is the new routes, it also includes a few other notes. Here is the quick hit list:
– Bringing back “Join a Zwift”: As a reminder, this was broken a while ago with the new home screen interface, but it has now returned (within the new home screen interface). You will see your favorite Zwift girls at the top of the list, followed by Pro and Verified Zwifters. Unrelated, currently there is no Zwift Blue Verified but not Verified program which costs $8/month.
– HoloReplay Updates: Last month’s update saw the release of HoloReplay, which are essentially ghosts from your past rides. Previously these excluded solo training and races, now they are included. But group training and meetings are still out of the question due to rubber bands.
– Pace Partners is now called RoboPacers: Ummm….ok….noted.
– Improved Apple TV remote control on training ground and save screens: I haven’t had a chance to try this, but I’m guessing Zwift either fixed an actual software feature here, or they just lit the Apple TV remote on fire, roasted marshmallows, and called it good.
– Last club is saved automatically: Finally! In the past it had reset itself to empty every time, which meant the likelihood of me actually changing it at the end of each ride was about nil. It’s about the same percentage that I started mentioning or doing something with the Zwift DCRAINMAKER club I created a long time ago.
– No more holographic animals: Unfortunately, these have disappeared. Officially the release notes say “Fixed issue where pedestrians and animals appear holographic”, although honestly that sounds more like a feature removal to me than a “Fixed”. Personally, I’d love to see more holographic bears chasing Zwift runners.
Ok, that’s all.
Apple TV 4K 2022 Upcoming Updates:
Back in October, Apple announced its latest Apple TV 4K edition, which offers a significant improvement in processor and graphics performance (up to 50% faster CPU and 30% faster GPU), while actually being significantly cheaper than previous editions. The base unit is now $129 (up from $179 previously). As many of you know, I do the vast majority of my Zwifting on the Apple TV, as it’s generally the easiest and most efficient/stable way to Zwift. The “just works” factor is exceptionally high, while being the cheapest way to use Zwift. It doesn’t require another Apple device in your household. While other indoor cycling platforms have added Apple TV support (Rouvy, RGT, etc…), Zwift has been in this realm the longest.
Some may remember the last time Apple released a new Apple TV version, back in the spring of 2021. When they do, Zwift usually runs on the new hardware, but isn’t optimized for it. When Zwift opens, it internally checks what hardware it’s on and then loads the appropriate graphics settings for it. In the case of brand new hardware, when Zwift does the internal check, the response it gets back is basically “Bunny Pancake”, and thus Zwift doesn’t know what that hardware is yet, so the resulting experience can vary from ‘Same as before’ to “Worse than before”.
The point of it is that each time we basically have to wait for Zwift to get the hardware, test it, find out what the real power/potential is and then release an updated graphics profile. It usually happens at the next Zwift update cycle, assuming the cycle is 2-4 weeks out. However, there is good news to report.
Zwift has already been working since the release of the latest edition of Apple TV to get it fully supported. Sounds like it’s going well there, and they’re aiming to have initial support for it in the next Zwift update (assuming no last minute issues). It also sounds like this could be a multi-phase approach to get some quick hit gains immediately and then start taking advantage of the hardware more deeply in the following updates.
Once that update happens, I’ll do some side-by-side testing to show you how things have changed. Either way, if you’re buying a new Apple TV device, definitely buy the new variant over the old one. First, it is more powerful. Second, it’s often cheaper (or at worst $30 more expensive, which considering future proofing would spend $30). Third, it has other new features that are useful on the home theater/etc side. And fourth, the remote now charges via USB-C versus Lightning, which may appeal to some.
Oh, and if you’re wondering which variant to buy (there are two, one costs $129 with 64GB of storage, the other costs $149 with 128GB of storage), the three differences are: The high-end model has built-in Gigabit Ethernet, can act as a wire hubs (home automation stuff), and has more storage. That’s all. None of these features matter to Zwift (or any other cycling app), unless you specifically have deeply problematic WiFi issues in your home, in which case Ethernet can help you instead of WiFi.
Next we have the new roads. But it’s more than just roads, it’s also gravel and even some hard-packed sand sections. I gave this a whirl last night just before release, heading out on empty roads. Which is about the only time I’ll ever grab the green jersey.
If you’re trying to figure out how to pronounce and say this new area, here’s what Zwift has to say:
“Urukazi (woo-roo-kah-zi) is the combination of two Okinawan words – ‘uru’ meaning ‘beach’ and ‘kazi’ meaning ‘breeze.'” The combination of the two words is meant to evoke the calm, untouched nature of the southern Japanese archipelago. On the roads of Urukazi, you’ll find a Zwifty interpretation of these islands’ landscapes as you ride on pavement, gravel and a new type of surface not yet available anywhere else on Zwift.”
Alternatively, if you’re still a little unsure of what all this means, you’re basically on jungle-like islands with a few temples and a random industrial area, and a few bridges connecting it all. Also, you drive quite a bit on what I assume is hard packed sand. I can’t quite tell if it’s a hardpack, but my bike didn’t sink in, and my graphics card isn’t fancy enough to show individual grains of sand.
I’ve listed all the new “Routes” below, but remember in Zwift parlance that routes overlap, so it’s not exactly the same as new roads/trails. And some of these routes start from areas like earlier in the game, and take you to Urukazi. In my case, I did the Island Outskirts route, because it’s brand new stuff and a nice loop. The Urukazi update adds about 22km of “roads”, while the larger Makuri map now has 40mi/64km of “roads”.
For your benefit, I took an excessive number of screenshots below. These were on a Windows PC, as that’s the beta version I had access to (I’m noting that, as I’ve just finished talking about Apple TV and didn’t want you to think they were on it, for better or for worse). I really liked this route. It has elements from elsewhere in Zwift, yet enough new little tidbits to feel…well…new. Go ahead and enjoy the gallery:
With your slideshow complete, here is the official list of routes:
Mech Isle Loop
Take a lap around this short industrial loop.
Distance: 2.5 mi // 4 km, Elevation Gain: 127 ft // 38.7 m
Bridges and boardwalks
Explore the largest island in Urukazi.
Distance: 3.9 mi // 6.3 km, elevation gain, 195 ft // 59.5 m
Visit all the islands of Urukazi in a single turn.
Distance: 11.2 mi // 18 km, elevation gain, 421.6 ft // 128.5 m
Fina and Sandy
Explore mangroves and sandy beaches on this off-road loop.
Distance: 6.5 mi // 10.6 km, Elevation Gain, 253 ft // 77.1m
Race around the outskirts of Urukazi
Distance: 7 mi // 11.3 km, elevation gain, 295 ft // 90.1 m
Feel the surf on this 40km loop around Makuri
Distance: 24.9 mi // 40 km, Elevation Gain: 1006 ft // 306.6m
Country to coast
Cruise on open fields to open seas
Distance: 20.7 mi // 33.4 km, Elevation Gain: 899 ft // 274m
Turf N Surf
A race from city streets to sandy beaches
Distance: 15.3 mi // 24.6 km, Elevation Gain: 642 ft // 195.8m
With that, thanks for reading!
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