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Steam adds remote game downloads (hands-on)

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A new update to the Steam beta client adds remote downloads, allowing users to trigger installations from any device.

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With the latest version of Valve's Steam beta client, users can now initiate game downloads and installations remotely from any device. Like Xbox Live and Google Play, the new feature allows users to browse the service's catalog from a web browser and initiate downloads for new or existing purchases to their Mac or Windows PC. In order to gain access to remote downloads, users must opt-in to the beta client within Steam's settings menu and leave the program running and connected to the internet.

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While the feature seemed to be disabled for our Mac OS X client, we were able to give the Windows version a testdrive by pairing an Alienware laptop with an iPhone viewing the Steam website. The remote browser provided a top-down view of all of the titles in our collection with icons indicating which were already installed, available for download, or were actively being updated. Though the browser doesn't provide realtime transfer speed information or estimated completion times, installs can be paused and resumed at any time. We experienced a slight delay between browser commands and the corresponding action on the remote PC, but otherwise the service ran smoothly.

Despite being a beta feature, the remote download functionality works surprisingly well and is an effective tool for managing large game downloads. Valve hasn't specified when it will be implemented on the standard version, but you can try it out now by following the instructions in the Steam support forums.