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Nintendo Switch Online update finally gave users this basic feature

Animal crossing game popular Nintendo switch with joy controllers family friend activity playing together.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If the Nintendo Switch has one weakness, it's the online experience. A big update to the associated Nintendo Switch Online app (opens in new tab) just introduced some welcome upgrades (via Nintendo Life). However, if anything, it shows just how low the bar was to start with.

Some of the upgrades that come with the 2.0 update are simple improvements to the app's design, as well as the option to copy/paste your friend code for easier sharing. But the biggest and most shocking upgrades revolve around social features. For example (brace yourself for this): you can now check if your friends are online.

How on earth is this feature only coming now? The Switch Online app has been around for five years: the same amount of time as the original Switch console. While the Switch hardware has evolved, with a new 2019 model and the addition of the Switch Lite and Switch OLED, it's astonishing that Nintendo has been so laid back with the companion app.

Of course, there was nothing stopping you from quickly turning your Switch console on, and checking your friends list from there. But you're much more likely to have your phone on you than your Switch at a given time. Using the app seems like the more effective method for planning a quick Mario Kart 8 Deluxe grand prix or a round of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Besides, Sony and Microsoft both offer this feature with the PlayStation app and the Xbox app, respectively.

However, the Switch Online app still feels incomplete. As the app listing says, you can't add friends from the app. You'll have to log into your Switch for that. This is probably not critical, but it's still something you can do with the PS and Xbox apps. 

Nintendo is one of those lucky companies that has a devoted user base, who won't be dissuaded from buying its products easily. It's evident that the company has not bled users due to its strange app feature choices. After all, this is the same app you need to plug into if you want to use voice chat in-game. Frankly, though, players who are this loyal to the Nintendo brand deserve better.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.

  • DirtyD8632
    I have always been able to look and see who’s online or even just playing a game and I can see what their playing. This is no different than any other system and I do not believe adding it to switch online was necessary in my opinion.
    Reply