Earlier this week, the Nintendo Switch Online app hit the App Store and Google Play, and the app should now be fully functional with today’s launch of Splatoon 2. Since the app’s launch, it has received much criticism from the online community due to its lack of features (or, rather, its missteps). There are a myriad of issues with the app and what it can and cannot do, and it all goes to show Nintendo is simply out of touch with modern online services.
What are some of the apps limitations, you might be asking?
The app currently only works with Splatoon 2
Were you hoping for other online Switch titles, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Arms to have voice chat functionality? For now, you’re out of luck. While Nintendo does plan to add more games with future updates, for now you can only use the app with Splatoon 2.
It doesn’t support text chat
To me, this one isn’t a huge deal, but if you were expecting functionality like Skype or Discord, you’ll end up being disappointed.
You can only use voice chat in the Online Lounge, and you can’t continue voice chat while using other apps
This one is a huge misstep. Not only can you not freely voice chat while using other parts of the app, but you can’t switch apps without losing voice chat functionality. If you want to continue chatting with your friends, you have to stay in the Online Lounge in the app. No incoming calls or SMS messaging either!
Your phone screen has to be on at all times while using the app
Turning off your phone’s screen will cease all voice communication. So much for trying to save battery life. Speaking of which…
The app will drain roughly a third of your phone’s battery by just using the app for one hour
From IGN: “On an iPhone 6s not using wifi, it used up 37% battery life over an hour, with the battery dropping more when voice chat was enabled and less when just browsing Splatnet.”
With all of these limitations, it just shows that Nintendo either doesn’t understand modern simplicities of voice chat app functionality, or is just trying to be different in how they approach an idea (in true Nintendo fashion). I’m no app developer or expert on app development, but when apps like Skype or Discord provide many functions that are simply absent here (running voice in the background, text chat, or being able to turn off the damn phone screen without losing voice chat), it really makes the argument for using the Nintendo Switch Online app far less compelling.
If you ask me, I’ll be only using the Nintendo Switch Online app to invite friends to parties. Otherwise, you’ll likely find me chatting with friends and teammates using Skype or Discord.