Four and a half years after its launch, Nintendo is at long last adding support for Bluetooth audio to the Switch. All you have to do to enable Bluetooth pairing on the console is download the latest software update.
Nintendo surreptitiously announced the software update via the @NintendoAmerica Twitter account Tuesday night. A new article about pairing Bluetooth devices with the Switch has also been posted to Nintendo of America’s Support website. There are a few minor limitations to how and when you can use Bluetooth audio with the Switch, but, for the most part, it’s just as easy to do so as with any other Bluetooth-enabled device.
That ease of use is nice, yes, but also quite frustrating. Switch players have been asking — pleading might be a more accurate word — Nintendo to add Bluetooth support basically since day one of the Switch’s release. And all it took was a measly software update?
Just pair and go — Here’s how you pair a Bluetooth headset to your Switch:
- Download the latest software through the appropriate system menu.
- Navigate to System Settings —> Bluetooth Audio.
- Select “Pair Device” and follow the prompts.
The new Bluetooth functionality works with both the original Switch and the Switch Lite.
Somewhat restrictive — The Switch’s Bluetooth capabilities are, in typical Switch fashion, a bit rudimentary. There’s no mic support, for one thing, which means players won’t be able to use voice chat through the console itself. Nintendo still relegates all voice chat to its smartphone app, so you won’t be able to listen to the chat and the Switch through your headphones at the same time.
Because the Switch’s wireless communications module is limited in functionality, so too is its Bluetooth support. Only two controllers can be paired to the Switch while a Bluetooth device is connected, and Bluetooth won’t work at all when playing local wireless multiplayer games. For the most part, the Switch’s Bluetooth is going to be most useful when playing on your own.
After all this time… Switch owners have been clamoring — begging! — Nintendo to add Bluetooth audio support for years now. An entire third-party market exists for accessories that add Bluetooth functionality to the Switch! From a user perspective, it looks a lot like Nintendo woke up yesterday and just decided to finally flip the switch on this new Bluetooth menu. Not for any particular reason, just someone over at Nintendo HQ finally got bored enough to take care of it.
If we put aside these frustrations, though, the Switch’s Bluetooth support is really stellar. Even the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 won’t connect to your Bluetooth headphones, and those consoles are much, much newer. The Switch will remember up to 10 different Bluetooth devices. Just don’t try using them for multiplayer.
Anyway. Thanks, Nintendo. I guess.