Valve is set to release a slew of updates to their software offerings on Android and iOS, which include the brand new Steam Link app and Steam Video. While Steam Video is still several weeks out from launch, the Steam Link app will be available later this month. Steam Link is a replacement for Valve’s physical Steam Link hardware, which recently went on a fire sale overseas for as low as one US dollar. Steam Link would work over WiFi or ethernet, but it was a rather simple device that only streamed Steam games. It didn’t have much more functionality beyond that. This is presumably why Valve is going into streaming to mobile phones instead.
The Steam Link app will be launched sometime in the week of 21 May 2018 for both Android and iOS, and it has some hefty requirements. For starters, you need your phone or tablet to connect to a 5.0GHz network inside your home that your PC is also connected to, with preference on a wired ethernet connection to minimise latency. That will pretty much only give Samsung’s DeX platform a latency advantage. If you want to play games while you’re out of the house, you’ll probably need to set up a VPN to fool the Steam Link app to thinking you’re still inside your home network. The VPN workaround reportedly doesn’t work anymore for Steam’s In-Home Streaming service, but Steam Link might be capable of allowing this to happen.
Controller-wise, Valve hasn’t issued a full list of what will and won’t work for Steam Link, but they have said that the Steam Controller and any MFi-capable iOS controllers will work out the box. We can presume that Sony’s DualShock 4 will end up on that list as well because it is already compatible with various Android games. Microsoft’s Xbox One Bluetooth controller should also work, as should Nintendo’s Wii U and Switch Pro controllers, but we’ll have to wait to see what they end up targeting. Bluetooth keyboard and mouse on an Android tablet? Yes please!
Valve’s other new app, Steam Video, will be available much later in beta form on Android and iOS. It will allow for remote streaming of videos and other media you purchase from Steam, and you’ll be able to do this over WiFi or LTE, along with the ability to download media for offline viewing. Valve has been doing quite a lot in this area lately, it seems. Steam has over 500 movies available for purchase, more than 150 series including well-known ones like Weeds, Black Sails, and Orange is the New Black, and an assortment of documentaries, game dev diaries, and tutorials.