Steam Link for smartphones has been requested and teased for some time, and now the public beta test is finally available in the Play Store. Users of Valve's game curation tool, market, and launcher will be able to use this app to play their full PC game library on their phone, so long as they happen to be on the same network as the computer. The app is easy to use, and performs fairly well on decent networks. Hardware is also a factor, of course; a decent phone and a decent computer aren't required, but they do help. The app is compatible with Steam on any platform, including Windows, Mac, SteamOS, and Linux distributions like Debian and Ubuntu. Running Steam through a Windows compatibility layer on a Chromebook should theoretically work.
The lack of internet functionality is more than made up for by the ease of setup; pair up any compatible controller, including a Steam Controller, DualShock 4, XBOX One controller, or any old Bluetooth gamepad you have lying around. From there, find your computer running Steam on your local network, enter a PIN, and the software takes care of the rest. You'll be put into Steam's Big Picture mode, and the streaming and gameplay is all seamless from there. The performance is comparable to competing solutions like Kainy and Remotr, if not better. As for setup, a cheap Mocute controller worked flawlessly, and setup took seconds. The app also comes with a number of settings and customizations to make things easier, and owners of offbeat gamepads need not fret - the app automatically remaps those inputs to emulate an XBOX 360 controller, essentially the gold standard for universally compatible PC gaming controllers.
It is worth noting that Steam Link works over the same protocol as the dedicated Steam Link device, and is usable on any computer that can run Steam. While this is great news for low-spec gamers or AMD fans, it's a double-edged sword for NVIDIA graphics card users, since the powerful Limelight protocol that runs NVIDIA's SHIELD streaming isn't available. There are other solutions out there to do what the Steam Link app does, but this is definitely one of the easier solutions to set up and has decent performance. Click the Google Play button below if you'd like to give it a try.