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The Nintendo Switch Online app: Everything you need to know

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You have the app, but now what?

Nintendo Switch Online app art Nintendo

Nintendo Switch Online’s mobile app, which handles the console's online multiplayer features and upcoming online service, is now available. But what can you actually use it for?

Right now, not much. The app is undergoing maintenance, presumably to get ready for its full launch alongside Splatoon 2. But once July 21 hits, expect to use that app a lot it you're into playing games with your friends across the globe.

Like many Nintendo products, the Switch Online App isn't totally comprehensible on first launch. Thankfully, we've got you covered on the basics. Consider this your beginner's guide to the mobile platform, with a big hat tip to Nintendo, which made the smart decision of compiling an FAQ for its support website.

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

It’s the online service for Nintendo Switch, which is accessible through a mobile app. While Nintendo Switch Online launches in full in 2018, the app’s live now. It’s home to most of the basic online multiplayer features you’d want for supported Switch games.

Is the Nintendo Switch Online app free?

The app is definitely free. The service itself is a different story ...

How much does Nintendo Switch Online cost?

Good news: It costs a grand total of $0 until 2018. Nintendo’s gifting us an extended free trial of the service through the year’s end. Once the company starts charging for the full service, though, you’ll be paying $20 for the whole year.

splatoon splatnet 2 Nintendo

Which games support the Nintendo Switch Online app?

As of now, only Splatoon 2. The multiplayer shooter has a hub called SplatNet2, which players can only access through the Switch Online mobile app.

Do I have to have the Nintendo Switch Online app to go online in Splatoon 2 and other games?

Nope! While some features are exclusive to mobile, you’ll still be able to queue up with friends and play online in Splatoon 2 without ever using your phone.

Good to know. So what can I use the app for?

The biggest features are inviting friends to play with you in private or public games and chatting them up via voice chat. Voice chat only works when using the Nintendo Switch Online app, so if you like yelling at your friends and teammates, you’ll want to download this.

How does voice chat work with Nintendo Switch Online?

Accessing voice chat will vary from game to game. The important things to know are that you’ll likely need to be friends with anyone you want to talk to, whether that’s through your console or through social media (like Facebook and Twitter).

Voice chat will only work under two conditions: while you’re actually playing the supported game, and while you have both your mobile device’s screen on and the app open. You can’t use the functionality while texting or browsing through Twitter on your phone, basically — so keep that in mind.

nintendo switch online mobile app Nintendo

I have to have the app open the whole time?

Yep.

That’s annoying.

Yeah, it’s not great.

OK, moving on. How do I invite friends to come play with the app?

You’ll need both the game you’re playing and your phone for this. Let’s use Splatoon 2 as an example.

In the game’s Online Lounge menu, players can create a room for a variety of game modes. Once you’ve done that, send a notification to your phone. Then, open up the app and choose that new room; you can then invite friends or other Switch Online users you’ve recently played with to join in. If they accept, you’ll all be in the Online Lounge together, so you can chat it up and play some rounds.

How do I join my online friends using the app?

You’ll again want both the game and the app open, but you’ll start with your app first. When your friend’s made a room and invited you in, you’ll get a notification. You can then accept the invite and go hang with your pals.

nintendo switch online mobile app Nintendo

Is there anything else the app can do?

Again, every game will use it differently. For Splatoon 2, the SplatNet 2 feature will have all of this functionality, as well as a special gear shop, a stats and records menu and stage schedules that are regularly updated. All of those features will be available starting July 21.

Last thing: Do I have to use that ugly Splatoon 2-themed headset while chatting with friends online?

That’s your prerogative, buddy.