Many of the details around Nintendo's strategy for the future of their portable/console hybrid the Switch have been wishy washy at best, not just after initially debuting the system last fall but also well after its release this past March. I think part of that is Nintendo taking a wait and see approach to see how the system fares first before locking in some of the finer details. One big question was how the company would handle its console's online functionality, and all we've really heard about that is that the paid version of the service will launch sometime next year and cost $19.99 per year, and things like voice chatting, friends lists, and other typical online social functionality would be offloaded to some sort of smartphone app. Well today during a Splatoon 2 Nintendo Direct, the company revealed that the smartphone app in question will be called the Nintendo Switch Online app and it's going to launch alongside the release of Splatoon 2 in a couple of weeks on July 21st.

According to the details rounded up on our sister site Macrumors, the Nintendo Switch Online app will be released for both iOS and Android and will let players "voice chat with friends, invite people to online matches, create teams, and access SplatNet 2" which is the online portal for Splatoon 2 which will track statistics and offer up news on upcoming features for the game. In addition the app will allow you to invite friends to Private Battles, League Battles, and Splatfest Battles through social media and "other services" and will send you push notifications right on your device to alert you of these invites.

Like most everybody else, I was wary when Nintendo announced that so much of the typical features you'd expect to be built into a console's online services would be handled by an app, but I'm also cautiously optimistic about it. The Switch's online service will continue to be free for everybody until the service officially launches sometime in 2018, and I'm really curious to see how the app will work with Splatoon 2 and how it will grow to encompass more games as they become available. For now though the only game that will work with the Nintendo Switch Online app will be Splatoon 2, so if you're a Switch owner who is planning on picking up that game anyway be sure to also grab Nintendo's new app when it launches on July 21st.