Although mobile Steam Link support launched last year, there were certain “business conflicts” that prevented Apple devices from being supported, according to Valve. Those hurdles cut out a considerable portion of Steam users, who had to either continue using their Steam Link box (which was discontinued in November 2018) to stream to a non-mobile screen, or to simply not have the ability to stream at all.
Now that iOS support is available, we took a look at the Steam Link app’s performance using an Apple TV 4K and iPhone XS Max.
Setup for the Steam Link app is a breeze, regardless of which device you decide to stream to. Download and launch the app, and the on-screen directions will walk you through the setup, beginning with a note to make sure that your Steam instance is in Big Picture Mode and that your Bluetooth controller is paired with the computer that’s actually running Steam. Once paired, you’ll select your computer from the menu, followed by a prompt to enter a four-digit code on your PC in order to create the connection. After entering the code, a diagnostics test will run to determine your connection speed, which takes about 30 seconds. Once connected, Steam’s Big Picture Mode view will appear on your iOS device’s screen, allowing you to move freely through your library to pick the game you want to play.
Apple TV 4K
While there were no issues with initially connecting the Apple TV 4K to the PC, there were a few spotty moments of lag. This was likely due to the fact that my Apple TV is located in a different room than my gaming PC. Regardless, the non-laggy moments of playing games (which were Ultimate Chicken Horse and Grand Theft Auto V) were just as responsive as if I were playing directly on my gaming PC.
iPhone XS Max
The iPhone XS Max had a similar experience as the Apple TV, but was played in the same room as the gaming PC (roughly 15-feet away from one another). No lag was experienced at all, with the exact same real-time responsiveness. The nice thing about playing on the iPhone is that the touchscreen can be used to navigate through Steam’s Big Picture Mode, instead of having to use the Steam Controller (which I am none too fond of).
The Steam Link app provides a simple and straightforward experience for anyone hoping to play their Steam games from somewhere other than their computer desk. The setup was surprisingly easy; considerably easier than the setup process for the physical Steam Link box ever was. Just be mindful of the fact that you’ll probably have a much better experience if your device is in close proximity to your Apple TV (at least in the same room).
Although Valve has said that it will continue support for its physical device, feel free to use your old Steam Link box as a coaster or doorstop.