Nintendo Switch Online app pops up a few days before the service is live

The true, full-fledged online gaming platform from Nintendo is approaching showtime.

Nintendo won’t begin offering the service until Friday, but the company is already letting owners of the Switch grab the companion app for their mobile devices.┬áThe Nintendo Switch Online app went live on Google Play and the Apple App Store three days before the service is released on the Switch itself.

You’ll actually need the app if you plan on doing anything serious with your Switch online.

Rather than being purely an enhancement for the console, the Nintendo Switch Online app adds support for game-specific activities and voice chat. Yes, voice chat has to be done through your mobile device and not the Switch itself. Nintendo, for whatever reason, decided not to let the console handle something the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were doing in 2006.

If you download the app on your device, you’ll need a Nintendo Account as well as a Switch to make any progress. There’s still working going on now, though, as the app’s servers are unstable. With the platform scheduled to go live on July 21, Nintendo is racing against time to be ready for a large influx of users.

Everything is free for the short-term. Nintendo will introduce a paid subscription service in 2018 to compete directly with Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold. In addition to unlocking premium features, Nintendo will thrown in classic titles to feed your craving for throwbacks. It’ll cost $3.99 for one month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 for twelve months. While much cheaper than the competition, Sony and Microsoft have more robust features.

Until we reach the end of the year, just enjoy free online capabilities on your Switch without any second thoughts.

Download it now: Google Play

About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.