The Steam mobile app isn’t bad by any means, but it isn’t particularly good either. It’s just there: you can browse the store, buy and remotely install games, chat with your Steam friends, and perform most of the other important functions of the desktop Steam client. But there’s nothing about it that really makes me want to. If I don’t need it for Steam Guard, I probably wouldn’t install it at all.
I can’t honestly say how Valve can best make its mobile app more appealing, but I’m curious to see what it has in mind. And with any luck, I’ll find out pretty soon, because a new Steam mobile app (opens in new tab) has now launched in beta for both Android and iOS devices.
“We rebuilt the app in a new framework and modernized the design. (2015 called and wanted their app back),” Valve wrote. “You can still browse the store, get Steam Guard codes and confirm transactions, but now the app comes with QR code login, smarter notifications, an improved library, and support for multiple accounts.”
“[The beta test] helps us test our assumptions, learn your likes and dislikes, and find things that need fixing. This is especially important when the app can be used on so many different phones and devices.”
Valve invited “invested Steam users” who have already installed the mobile app and are willing to provide feedback to try out the updated app. Full details on this are available in the Steam Mobile App group (opens in new tab): It’s pretty easy for Android users (click on the provided link and wait for the update to install), but iOS users will need to install Apple’s TestFlight app and then join in. Apple also apparently limits the number of initial beta participants to 10,000, so you may have to wait for more slots to open before entering.
The early comments on Reddit (opens in new tab) seems cautiously optimistic. Redditor awnful24x7 said the store and notifications have been improved, while Steam Guard is “more focused and much easier to find now”, and do-You-Like-Pasta agreed, saying it looks good and the new QR code login option works properly. Some others complained about slower performance and lag, but restarting the app apparently helped to fix those issues.
I installed it on my phone (a cheap, year-old Motorola, for the record) and to me it seems, well, fine: the layout is a bit cleaner, the notifications are more directly accessible, the wishlist is very prominent (which is nice for casual bargain hunters) and while it feels a little sluggish in places, it’s not bad or unwieldy at all. The big win is the QR code login option, which is really nice: instead of using a name, password and Steam Guard as I usually do, I just clicked the “show me a code” link on the Steam login screen on my desktop , scanned it with my phone, and blammo, i was in, quick and easy.
The only downside to the beta app is that it doesn’t currently support widgets, so the tiny Steam Guard screen I used to get login codes without having to launch the app is no longer functional. The QR code option has made it obsolete anyway, but if I occasionally need a standard Steam Guard code, I hope Valve brings back that widget option soon.
There is currently no time frame when the new mobile app will be fully released, but Valve suggested there is still quite a bit of work to do. It also invited all interested Steam users to join the conversation about the mobile app, even if they are not currently using it.
“We’re still adding features, fixing bugs, and polishing the app,” Valve wrote. “It’s helpful to hear what you’re excited about, what can be improved, and what needs to be fixed.
“Everyone is welcome to join the group and the conversation, even if you can’t participate in the beta. We’d love to hear from you.”