Less than a year into its life cycle and it's safe to say Nintendo's hybrid console is going from strength to strength. Its library of games is expanding and with a new online infrastructure set to arrive sometime in 2018, the handheld/tabletop wonder is set to mega evolve yet again.
There is, however, one glaring omission in Nintendo's plan and it's one we really want to see addressed in the next 12 months: apps and third-party software. With Switch's user base growing at an impressive rate, this really is the time for Nintendo to build on that momentum and give it the depth of multimedia it's always deserved. So we've gathered together some of our most wanted apps that would be right at home on your Home screen.
A bespoke internet browser
So, technically, Switch does have an internet browser of sorts already coded into its OS, but it's not one designed for normal browsing. Nintendo currently uses a version of Access' NetFront Browser NX, a low-memory usage software that's ideal for handheld devices, smart TVs in in-car displays.
What we really need is a bespoke browser that's far more powerful and built with regular surfing and access in mind. Whether this would be a partnership with an existing piece of software (such as Mozilla Firefox) or a completely new app (which would give Nintendo far more control and remove the need for licensing) remains to be seen, but the groundwork is already there in your device.
Much like the previous entry, you can actually access your Facebook page from your Nintendo Switch, but it’s more of a technical bypass to a hidden feature rather than a full-blown app. So rather than being locked to a back-end browser that's not optimised for general use, Switch would benefit hugely from an official Facebook program.
It’s an easy sell, too. Social media sharing for your screenshots (and your videos) is already coded into Switch, which means a certain level of co-operation with the likes of Facebook and Twitter already exists. So what could be better than playing Super Mario Odyssey, hitting the Home Button and instantly jumping into your timeline?
As of writing, you can stream gameplay live to Switch or record clips through third-party software but it requires you to connect a capture card to your Switch and into a decent enough PC. It’s doable, but it’s still a constant reminder of just how well other platforms have woven almost instantaneous broadcasting into their systems.
There are plenty of potential platforms to include - and we’ll cover a second shortly - but Twitch is the easily the most popular. The toxicity found in some parts of its community, and the antics of some of its biggest stars could potential scupper such a partnership, but even an app that simply supports broadcasting would be a huge leap forwards.
Since Nintendo Switch doesn’t support voice chat of any kind, users have had to find alternative means (most of which involves using headsets that support both wired connections and wireless functionality to your PC or smart device). But it’s just not good enough - if Ninty isn’t going to provide a bespoke service, then it really needs to open up the doorway to third-party apps.
Discord is fast becoming the go-to platform for text-based and VoIP chat on PC, so there’s a strong argument to see it supported on Switch. What better way to link up with your friends than on your server, switching between games and apps without ever breaking the conversation? The alternative is a potential use of VoIP via a Nintendo app, but that doesn't sound like a very user friendly experience.
If you love your anime, then you almost certainly know about the wonders of Crunchyroll. For those still looking bemused at their screen, it’s essentially Netflix for anime and includes some of the biggest series including Bleach, Naruto Shippuden and many more.
While the likes of Netflix does have a decent (and rapidly growing) library of Japanese animation, Crunchyroll is on another level. And, considering the strong crossover with all the JRPG and the Japanese-developed games already on Switch, the Venn diagram of Switch/Crunchyroll users has a huge crossover. It might struggle against Netflix’s mainstream dominance, but it suits Switch down to a tee.
We mentioned another streaming service, and here it is: the all powerful YouTube. It seems a given at this stage considering the sheer influence of the platform; plus, the stage for it has already been set by other video apps. NicoNico, for instance, is a Japan-exclusive program, and is effectively a region-specific alternative to YouTube.
Then there’s the US-only launch of Hulu. The streaming service’s arrival on a western version of Switch was a watershed moment back in November 2017, and its instant popularity proves there’s a huge market for video consumption on Nintendo’s new console. The only real roadblock is Nintendo Creators Program, which could potentially lock out the ability to stream on YT.
There’s no way we could include a list of apps for Nintendo Switch and not include the world of tweets, likes and GIF overloads. Twitter has become as much a part of our digital lives as Facebook, perhaps more so in recent years, so its inclusion is going to be on everyone’s wish list.
Much like FB, Twitter already has a certain level of connectivity with Switch thanks to the ability to share your screenshots with your followers. Our only concern would be getting a version suitably optimised for Switch - other versions on platforms such as iOS have been notoriously buggy in the past, so we’d want Twitter to hold off until it’s nailed one for Nintendo.
Okay, so this one’s a bit cheeky as it’s already out in the US, but for us Europeans we’ve yet to experience the wonder of video streaming on our Joy-Con friendly console. It’s seeded well in the US due to its support for live sports, pro wrestling and other content, but there’s still plenty of other programming that would work well outside North America.
Whatever the form it might take, the fact it already exists is cause for celebration. Imagine being able to watch sports, episodes of your TV show and access live broadcast streams in between matches of Splatoon 2 or DOOM? Switch may not have been envisioned as a multimedia device, but an app such as Hulu could HELP transform it into one.
Okay, so if we’re including Hulu and Crunchyroll then there’s no way we can leave out the granddaddy of streaming services. Netflix is already available on almost every device out there, so it stands to reason that the other Big N will have its sight set on one of the fastest selling and most ‘in vogue’ consoles on the market.
There’s a good chance most of you reading this already access Netflix on some form of portable device, be it a smartphone or tablet, but imagine being able to access all of Switch’s incredible games and Netflix’s library from the same place? And, just like YouTube and Amazon Instant Video, Netflix has already featured on Wii U, so the relationship and the concept is already there for the taking.
A proper Activity Log
This might seem like a strange one, but hear us out: if there's one app we used almost as much as our actual games on 3DS, it was the humble Activity Log. Without any form of achievement/trophy system, there was a tangible joy to tracking your game stats to see which one was in gold, silver or bronze position.
There is technically an in-game time tracker coded into your personal Switch profile, but it’s pretty crude as it a) takes 10 days to present its data and b) it rounds off your progress to the nearest five hour mark. It’s worked well enough for the time being, but much like Switch’s online infrastructure and eShop, it needs a serious overhaul to make it far more in-depth and reactive.
So you've heard what we think, but which apps do you want to see on Nintendo Switch? Are there any you disagree with, or anyone we've missed completely - let us know below and get the conversation flowing...