Just a few months after its release, the Shield handheld console from Nvidia is receiving a substantial update that should really expand its gaming appeal.
The update, which is now rolling out as an OTA, brings a slew of improvements and new features, starting with an update to Android 4.3, making the Shield one of the first non-Nexus devices to be upgraded to the latest version of the operating system.
Here’s a rundown of the update:
Gamepad Mapper is a new function that lets you map touchscreen controls to the physical buttons of the Shield. In theory, you should be able to use this feature to play a multitude of games from the Play Store without having to touch the screen once. While you can define your own controls, Nvidia helpfully set up default profiles for “hundreds of top Android games” that are automatically downloaded to your device when you install a game. Players can also share their mapping profiles.
Console Mode, as the name implies, turns your device into a mini-console of sorts. The updated Shield can now output 1080p graphics to your TV, though it’s not 60 fps like in 720p mode. This means, that for now, you will have to sacrifice some fluidity for better resolution, or vice versa. When in Console Mode, you can pair a Bluetooth controller to the Shield and use it to play games on your TV, just like on an Ouya console or similar device. Nvidia recommends the Nyko PlayPad Pro as a controller, though any Bluetooth controller should work in theory.
Android 4.3 – Nvidia says the updated OS makes the Shield more stable and fluid, while offering some new features, such as restricted profiles, actionable notifications, and more.
GameStream out of beta – the ability to stream games from PCs equipped with GeForce GTX 660 or higher graphics cards, now at 60 fps at 720p, for faster, smoother gameplay.
The update should hit your Nvidia Shield in the coming hours, so make sure to check the Settings>About device section often.