The latest Steam Deck software update is a biggun, with Valve adding an arguably overdue lock screen to their handheld PC. This new PIN protection leads a bevy of other features including localised keyboards, a redesigned achievements page, and support for games and apps with multiple windows, which you can now flick between via the Steam button menu.
Without the update, it’s possible to just sign into your Steam account once and never need to punch in credentials again, even after a full restart. This is convenient, especially if your Steam Deck isn’t at risk of chicanery from young siblings or vengeful housemates, but giving it the Deck a lock screen goes a long way in guarding it from prying hands. It’s definitely worth the longer-than-usual update installation, at any rate.
You can also customise when exactly the lock screen appears: on waking/powering up, before the initial login screen, or just when switching to Desktop Mode. Or a combination of all three. Go nuts.
Speaking of the Deck's desktop view, Valve have noted user reports that trying to apply this update from Desktop Mode can “get your Deck in a bad spot”, and thus require recovery action. Yikes! Best update from Gaming Mode only for the time being.
The window switching feature is another highlight. It can be used to support multiple instances of a web browser like Chrome, but for games that use a launcher, it also lets you switch between the two without closing the game first. Should be handy if you’re learned how to install the Epic Games Launcher on your Steam Deck.
Elsewhere, the SteamOS achievements page is now “faster to load and easier to navigate”, with a new toggle to show either your own stats or global stats for a specific game. 21 keyboard languages and layouts have been added as well, and Valve have tossed in a few minor quality-of-life improvements to boot. The Steam Deck’s battery usage should be lower when idling – good for downloading updates – and you’ll now be warned if you’ve inserted an incompatible microSD. Not that you’ll ever see this if you’ve got one of the best microSD cards for the Steam Deck, naturally. There’s also now an uncapped frame rate setting in the Performance tab Quick Settings menu, though since the Deck display’s refresh rate is 60Hz, you won’t actually see anything faster than 60fps if you enable it.
You can read through the full patch notes on the Steam site, and remember: update responsibly. In Gaming Mode.