Nvidia is improving its Android-based Shield handheld and giving gamers more reasons to pick it up.

The graphics-tech company is launching an update for the Shield this week that will bring the system to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Previously, Shield was running Android 4.2.1. This should boost performance, but it also adds restricted profiles and expandable notifications.

In addition to the operating-system-level improvements, Nvidia is also including a few new features. Shield will now come with the Gamepad Mapper software, which enables gamers to control touch-based games with the physical controller.

The Gamepad Mapper will enable Shield to play thousands of Android titles that do not support physical controls.

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“You can now play your favorite touch games with Shield’s physical controls using the new Shield Gamepad Mapper,” Nvidia director of GeForce gaming Jason Paul wrote in a blog. “Create your own custom controls for thousands of games on Google Play, or use NVIDIA’s default profiles now available for hundreds of top Android games. [This makes] everything from NBA Jam to Angry Birds playable on SHIELD’s console-grade controller. The default profiles are automatically downloaded from the cloud so you can just launch your game and play.”

Nvidia is also dropping the “beta” tag from its GameStream service, which enables Shield to play PC games likes The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and BioShock Infinite that are streaming locally from a gaming PC.

“Nvidia GameStream improves the streaming experience, putting PC games in the palm of your hand,” wrote Paul. “It’s optimized for game-speed Wi-Fi with ultralow latency and now up to 60-frames per second.”

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Nvidia specializes in the manufacture of graphics-processor technologies for workstations, desktop computers, and mobile devices. The company, based in Santa Clara, California, is a major supplier of integrated circuits used for person... read more »

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