Watch YouTube, take notes, chat, and more.
Screenshot of the revamped in-game overlay for Steam showing multiple windows with different functionality.

Valve just released a new beta update for Steam that includes a wealth of new features, updated old features, and some under the hood changes. While we don't typically write about updates released for the Steam Client Beta, this particular update had enough cool new features that it was worth a mention.

Right now, you can opt into the new beta for the Steam client that makes some drastic changes to the In-Game Overlay. Now, you have quick access via the new Toolbar to functionality such as achievement progress, guides, discussions, the web browser, and more. Though some default windows are enabled by Valve, you are free to pick and choose which windows you want open in the overlay. Furthermore, these window choices will persist across different games.

The new Game Overview can show things such as achievements in progress, which friends are playing the same game as you, the best guides, news for the game you're playing, and more. A Notes app will let you type in any notes with rich text formatting. You can have multiple notes per game and even read the notes in offline mode. The notes are synced across any other PC you are logged into and accessible outside of the in-game overlay.

Valve also added the ability to pin windows.

We've also added the ability to pin windows from the overlay, so that they can appear on top of the game while in-game. Opacity level is adjustable, and only the contents of the window will be pinned - excluding the title bar and other extraneous UI. This new functionality is available for Notes, Guides, Discussions, and the web browser (yes, you can watch movies while you play games if you really want to).
While seemingly small in the grand scheme of things, this is pretty cool if you feel like watching YouTube or playing a podcast in the background while you chill with your game. I know I often have a Twitch stream or YouTube video going when I'm playing games that aren't very story heavy.

Beyond all of this, Valve has made notifications in the Steam client "richer and more useful." The green icon on the client will now only light up "when there's truly something new for you." The tray view is now limited to new notifications. There is also now a "View all" page that shows your notification history. The screenshot manager is also more responsive, lets you choose from large or small thumbnails, view recent screenshots rather than by game, and you can manage both online screenshots as well as local screenshots.

Mac and Linux users should pay special interest to this one as this beta enables hardware acceleration for Steam on those platforms. This should result in faster animations, smoother scrolling, and a more responsive UI. Linux users can try the new beta right now. Mac users will have to wait a couple of weeks as Valve is still working on things there.