Valve’s Steam Controller gains Bluetooth LE support ahead of Steam Link app launch

Next week Valve is bringing its Steam Link app to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. Steam Link will allow users on the aforementioned devices to stream their Steam game libraries while connected to a host system (Mac or PC) via a 5GHz network or wired Ethernet connection.

Valve reports that Steam Link will support both MFi controllers like the SteelSeries Nimbus, along with its own Steam Controller. In preparation for next week’s launch, Steam has enabled Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity for its controller via the Steam Client Beta. It means that users can now connect their Steam Controllers directly to eligible devices, bypassing the need for its USB wireless receiver.

Although using the USB wireless receiver has connectivity advantages, Valve highlights a number of reasons why users might want to employ the use of the Steam Controller’s direct Bluetooth LE connection. These reasons include the following:

  • Streaming games to your iOS and Android devices with the Steam Link app.
  • Connecting your Steam Controller to a tablet or laptop without a USB port.
  • You just can’t find your Steam Controller Wireless Receiver.

In the case of many iOS users, the first reason is the most obvious. Once the Steam Link app launches, this update will allow users to control games streamed from a Steam-enabled computer via the Steam Controller.

The update bypasses the need for the wireless receiver, paving the way for iOS connectivity

The Steam Controller is a polarizing piece of hardware, as users tend to either love or hate the way it meshes touch-based pointer input with a traditional console controller layout. But for those of us who prefer the Steam Controller and its wide array of customization options, this is welcomed news.

In all other situations, Valve recommends sticking to the Steam Controller’s USB wireless receiver. The wireless receiver provides less latency, supports multiple simultaneous controllers, and was essentially built from the ground up to ensure a rock-solid connection.

How to enable Bluetooth Low Energy on the Steam Controller

Step 1: Launch Steam.

Step 2: In menu bar click Steam → Preferences.

Step 3: In the Accounts section of Steam Preferences, Click the Change button under the Beta participation heading.

Step 4: On the Beta Participation pop-up use the drop-down box to select Steam Beta Update and click OK.

Step 5: When prompted, click Restart to restart Steam. This will download and install the Steam Beta prior to relaunching the app.

Step 6: Connect your Steam Controller to your Mac using a USB cable and click here to start the firmware update flow.

Once you’re all connected, you can dynamically switch between the Steam Controller’s available wireless modes by using the following special button combinations upon controller power-up:

After enabling Bluetooth LE Pairing Mode on the Steam Controller, you can go through the normal iOS Bluetooth pairing process to connect the controller to an eligible iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. I was able to successfully connect the Steam Controller to my iPad, as seen in the screenshot below:

Of course, seeing as it’s not MFi-enabled, a Steam Controller/iOS combo isn’t very useful until Valve launches the Steam Link app next week. After that, you’ll be able to control Steam titles streamed from your desktop computer via the Steam Controller.

The Steam Controller is one of the most unique controllers that I’ve ever used

We’ll be sure to follow up with a test play-through to see how well Steam Link and the Steam Controller work once the app launches next week. Do you currently own a Steam Controller? Are you excited about the upcoming Steam Link app?

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel



Avatar for Jeff Benjamin Jeff Benjamin

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.