Nintendo Switch Online App Requires Your Phone To Be Unlocked To Use Voice Chat

That'll drain the battery pretty quickly.


The Nintendo Switch online app is now available on iOS and Android, and it allows for social connectivity for multiplayer games like Splatoon 2. It gives players voice chat and friends list functionality, for instance, by connecting with their Switch accounts. However, it appears that the functionality has some requirements that are a bit unwieldy.

Voice chat, for instance, requires that your phone be unlocked with the app running. This means that you can't start chatting and then lock your phone and throw it in your pocket, as is possible with phone calls and other voice chat services. Instead, you'll have to leave your screen on the whole time, which uses a lot more battery. You also can't switch out of the app to text or check something on the internet, or chat will be cut off.

Splatoon 2's absurd headset setup.
Splatoon 2's absurd headset setup.

Since voice chat is only available through the app--Splatoon 2, for instance, has no built-in chat--this has irked some players. In addition, since you have to plug your headset into your phone to get voice chat, you won't be able to plug the headset into the console to get game audio; this problem has resulted in a bizarre peripheral to let you do both. There's no knowing what Nintendo's reasoning behind this decision was; some have speculated that the company intends to disincentivize chatting to keep the playing field level for all players or to keep the game family-friendly. It could also just be a result of Nintendo's relative inexperience in the online multiplayer space, although that isn't exactly excusable, given that it's 2017 and online chat has been around for well over a decade.

In spite of the problems with the app, Splatoon 2 has been well-received by critics. GameSpot gave it an 8/10, with Kallie Plagge writing, "All the small changes, and even the bigger ones in single player and League Battles, make for a fresh take on the already unique shooter. If you played a lot of the original, the sequel has enough to keep you coming back, and if you're new to the game, it's a fantastic place to jump in." The game launches on Friday, July 21.

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