Our first taste of Nintendo's new online service is here.
The Nintendo Switch Online app is now available for iOS (opens in new tab) and Android, allowing you to view stats and voice chat with friends in Splatoon 2 and presumably other Nintendo multiplayer games down the line.
While there's not a whole lot you can do with the Switch Online app right now, here's a quick overview of how it works.
To get started, simply fire up the app and link your Nintendo account. From there, you'll be taken to a home screen that lets you view any pending invitations and access game-specific services, which are currently limited to Splatoon 2.
Using Splatnet 2
The app's SplatNet 2 service will let you view your personal stats and check out the map rotation schedule for Nintendo's new multiplayer shooter. The service's most useful feature is the gear shop, which you can access by tapping the shopping bag icon at the top right of the home screen. Here, you can put in orders for SplatNet-exclusive clothing items, which will then show up in your game for you to purchase.
One of the key features of the Switch Online app is voice chat, which is handled on a game-by-game basis. To get a chat session started in Splatoon 2, you'll have to select the Online Lounge option in-game, which will then prompt you to create a room on your Switch and then pull up the app to invite friends.
Once your room is created, you can invite friends from your Switch friends list, your connected social accounts, or a list of users you've recently played with. Once someone joins your room, you'll see a little bubble with their profile picture pop up on the app. You can mute your mic from this main screen, as well as add more players by tapping the friend icon at the top right.
The feature currently only works with private matches in Splatoon 2, and once you start a battle, you'll only be able to hear players that are on your team.
The Switch voice chat experience is really bad right now. The Switch Online app needs to be open and active for chat to work, meaning you won't be able to hear your friends if you run the app in the background or lock your phone. The fact that the app only works with private battles makes things even worse, as you can't use it to chat while teaming up with pals for online matchmaking. For the time being, you're much better off using a tried and true chat app like Skype or Discord, or just giving your teammates a phone call.
The current version of the Switch Online app is meant to be a test run of the fully-baked service that's set to launch in 2018. We'll be spending more time with the service as Nintendo hopefully fleshes it out throughout the year, so stay tuned for updates.
Image Credit: Nintendo