Nintendo yesterday dropped the latest version of its Switch operating system (Switch OS 11.0), an update large enough that it took us close to five minutes to download it rather than the usual one or two. That's nothing for most consoles, but a big one by the Switch's standards. The update is perhaps the most significant to the Switch’s OS in recent memory — though it isn’t without some minor annoyances.
The biggest update here is to Nintendo’s screenshot-sharing methodologies, which have long left much to be desired. You can now scan a QR code with your phone and instantly transfer up to 10 images and one video at once. No Wi-Fi required, even.
That fresh convenience is balanced out by a strange new icon on the Switch’s home menu. The bright red icon is ostensibly for the Nintendo Switch Online program… but clicking it doesn’t lead to much at all. And there’s no way to remove it from your home screen. Ugh.
Screenshot away, folks — As much as we’d like to pretend we don’t care about bragging on the internet, we absolutely do. And our gaming experiences are certainly not exempt from this — sharing screenshots of one's latest accomplishments has become a very important part of gaming culture in recent years, so much so that the latest Xbox controller includes a dedicated Share button.
Until now, sharing screenshots on the Switch has been easy enough if you want to send them right to Twitter with a few hashtags; using them for any other purpose, though, not so much. That generally required saving them to a microSD card and then extracting them from it after extracting it from the Switch. A wholly unpleasant and time-consuming exercise. The latest Switch OS update changes this for the better: there’s a new “Send to phone” option, and it doesn’t even require an internet connection. Just scan a QR code and send away.
Well, it can’t all be good — There is just one minor annoyance with Switch OS 11.0: a bright red Nintendo Switch Online bubble at the bottom of the home screen. The icon sits alongside long-standing icons for sections of the operating system like News, Settings, and Power Options.
Clicking the icon leads to a hub of sorts, with information about games you can play online, membership options, and cloud-saved data. None of it is particularly useful unless you’re bored and want to just scroll through online gaming options.
Nintendo hasn’t mentioned anything about this hub yet, so it’s difficult to say whether or not it will be expanded in the future. Right now it kind of reads like a large-scale advertising campaign. The console’s sales have been record-setting in 2020, so it makes sense Nintendo would work overtime to introduce all of those new players to the Switch Online platform from which it generates recurring subscription revenue.
The icon is somewhat aesthetically unpleasing next to its row of sleek white bubble neighbors — but that’s apparently the trade-off for better screenshot-sharing. We’ll take what we can get here. And besides, we spend most of our time on the Switch playing games, no perusing the menus, thankfully.