Back when Nintendo first unveiled its new Switch console, they promised that social features like voice chat and player-created parties would be handled by a smartphone app set to release sometime after the Switch itself. Four months later, the Nintendo Switch Online app has finally been released for both iOS and Android.
Overall, the Nintendo Switch Online app allows users to do things like create custom groups, utilize voice chat, and watch video content. The app will also have more specialized functionality for certain Switch games, but for now that primarily applies to the upcoming sequel shooter Splatoon 2.
Once Splatoon 2 launches, app users will be able to check their in-game stats, view leaderboards, and even purchase in-game clothing items for their character. While at first glance it may seem like a bit of a pain to install a new smartphone app just to enjoy social functions for the Switch, the app can actually do certain things that the Switch console can’t, like using Bluetooth headphones when voice chatting with your friends (the Switch console itself currently doesn’t have Bluetooth headphone support).
Also, if your friends adamantly refuse to install a new app just to text chat with you, the Nintendo Switch Online app can also sync with other popular chat apps like Line, Messenger, WhatsApp, and more. The Nintendo Switch Online app’s functionality will no doubt continue to grow as more Switch games are released, but for now it sounds like the app will be an essential companion if you want to get the most out of both the Switch and games like Splatoon 2.