We’ve known for a while that Nintendo would be using a separate smartphone app for online communication for the Switch, and now we know when the first version of that app will be available: July 21st, right alongside Splatoon 2.
As announced alongside new Splatoon 2 details during today’s Nintendo Direct announcement, the Nintendo Switch Online app will offer a “SplatNet 2” service within the overall app, which will provide private lobbies, voice chat, stat tracking, and more for the upcoming squid / kid team shooter. Per Nintendo’s earlier announcements about the Switch’s online service, this is still an early version of the app, with a final, more fully featured version set to release with the full launch of the Switch’s online service sometime in 2018.
Once the full online service rolls out next year, players will have to pay $19.99 per year to access online multiplayer and use the Nintendo Switch Online app. That fee also includes access to a library of classic Nintendo games on the Switch.
And yes, it’s still ridiculous that you’ll need to use a standalone smartphone app for voice chat instead of it simply being built into the Switch itself, but that’s Nintendo for you.