Nintendo Switch Online app: Everything you need to know!

Nintendo Switch Online Splatnet 2
Nintendo Switch Online Splatnet 2 (Image credit: iMore)

The companion app for the Nintendo Switch Online service has plenty to parse out. Unlike the apps for PlayStation or Xbox, Nintendo has gone the game-specific route. You'll now be able to enjoy more features, including inviting friends to play with you, provided you have the app open when you're playing a compatible game.

There's plenty to go over, and we have the details for you here!

What does the Nintendo Switch Online app do?

The Nintendo Switch Online app works as an extra hub for content that's specific to select games. Each game will offer different content through the app, in an attempt to give you access to everything you could want for gameplay. To access everything, though, you'll need a few things: a Nintendo Switch console, a compatible game, a Nintendo account, and a phone with the Nintendo Switch app loaded on it.

Online content used to be entirely free, but as of 2018, you have to pay in order to access it, similar to Xbox Gold or PlayStation Plus. Thankfully, the base subscription for Nintendo Switch Online won't break the bank. For an individual subscription, you'll be paying $20 a year, while the family subscription costs $35 a year, with the ability to let seven other family members join in on the online fun.

Which games does it work with?

Animal Crossing Nook Link Update 2.

Animal Crossing Nook Link Update 2. (Image credit: iMore)

At the moment, only three games have applets within the Nintendo Switch Online app: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Splatoon 2, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons applet, called NookLink, mimics your in-game Nook Phone, with "apps" that display things like your in-game passport, catalog, a keyboard, and emotes for quick chatting with online friends; plus access to the Happy Home Network to view homes created in Happy Home Paradise, and more.

Splatoon 2 Splatnet 2

Splatoon 2 Splatnet 2 (Image credit: iMore)

Splatoon 2's applet is called SplatNet2, and allows you to view your rankings and match statistics, purchase gear items for your character, and view things like map rotations and Salmon Run opening times. We're unsure whether this will be re-worked for the upcoming Splatoon 3, or whether the game's sequel will receive a separate applet.

Nintendo Switch Online Super Smash Bros Applet

Nintendo Switch Online Super Smash Bros Applet (Image credit: iMore)

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you can use the Nintendo Switch Online app to keep up to date with current Spirit events, view your current Spirit loadout for the World of Light single-player campaign, and view uploaded video clips of various matches. This applet mostly serves to view what you've already created, not necessarily add exclusive content to your game.

Of course, these three games aren't the only ones that work with the app. Many large titles like ARMS are featured on the list of games compatible with the Nintendo Switch online app. You'll be able to use voice chat with friends here, the same as in Animal Crossing or Splatoon 2.

If you've got the base subscription, don't worry! You won't need to upgrade to the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack to enjoy the app. While voice chat is compatible with the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games that come with the Expansion Pack, it's not required to use the app.

How does the voice chat function work?

Different games will implement this feature differently, but generally, you'll need to be friends with the people you want to chat with, or at least have played a game with them before. In most cases, you'll have to start an online play session, whether it be a lobby in Splatoon 2 or opening up your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, then enter the app on your phone. Thanks to an update, voice chat continues to function when you leave the Nintendo Switch Online app and will even continue if the phone is in sleep mode.

Voice chat can be cumbersome on the Nintendo Switch Online app, however, and your voice chat session can end if one or more parties has an unstable internet connection. To combat this, some players have found it more bearable to use alternatives to the app like Discord or Skype.

Interact with games on the go

Despite being available for so long, the companion app for Nintendo Switch Online is still kind of bare-bones. Its functionality only shines in exclusive in-game content for the supported games, while the voice chat functionality can be cumbersome and frustrating. With more great games on the horizon, we're hoping that more applets will come to the service and give players an excuse to download this app.

Nadine Dornieden

Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.