Nintendo Switch Online started rolling out on the Google Play Store on Tuesday and should soon be available for download worldwide. The companion app for Nintendo’s latest console is meant to be a significant part of the company’s upcoming online gaming service that will allow you to play games with your friends and hang out with them in a digital environment, compete on leaderboards, earn various rewards, customize your digital avatar, and more. The service itself is set to be launched in the near future and will be free for all owners of the Switch, though the Kyoto, Japan-based entertainment giant will turn it into a paid platform at some point next year.
The Nintendo Switch Online app was primarily designed as a gateway to other platforms related to specific games for the console and the first title to take advantage of it will be the upcoming Splatoon 2 with its SplatNet 2 system that’s set to be released on Friday. You’re able to use the tool to voice chat with your friends while playing any multiplayer game and can invite others to join you via various social media directly from the app. Apart from the social aspect of the service, Nintendo Switch Online will also provide you with gameplay information like match results and rankings for Splatoon 2 and the app will presumably serve a similar role for other online multiplayer games that are set to be released on the Switch in the future. Its chat functionality is somewhat convoluted compared to comparable features of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, though it’s also rather versatile, allowing you to easily switch between group chats and one-on-one conversations.
It’s currently unclear whether Nintendo is planning to roll out support for Nintendo Switch Online to some previously released multiplayer games for the console like the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The service itself was mainly designed to ennoble your online gaming experience, so you likely won’t find much use for it if you’re only interested in single player games. The app is compatible with most smartphones and tablets running Android 4.4 KitKat and later builds of Google’s operating system and you can download it by following the Play Store banner below.