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Friday, May 3, 2019

Oculus & Nintendo Switch Online Apps: Android 5.0 and Up

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Screwing backwards compatibility and on-console services!

Earlier in April, Nintendo released Version 3.0.0 of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and put Smash World, a new sub-section of their Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app, into operation. Smash World allows users to watch videos and download stages and Miis that other users have shared. Previously, the Nintendo Switch Online app only existed for random voice chat no one used, and Splatnet 2.0 for Splatoon 2. Splatnet 2.0 notably gave players a lot of fun statistics on their past matches (and Salmon Run shifts) and Splatfests, as well as having a store that synced up to Splatoon 2 that allowed you to buy gear with alternative abilities than what they'd sell in Inkopolis Square.

Those features are exclusive to the app on the non-Nintendo-hardware smartphone, as opposed to being available for smartphone-less users who only own a Nintendo Switch.

Before the April update, the Nintendo Switch Online app was available for Android 4.4.2-version users. Now it requires 5.0 and up. Even if you never step a single cyber-foot into the new Smash World section, the whole rest of the previously-compatible app is now unavailable.

Nintendo Switch Online Android app update available error code 2817-0600
An update is required to use this app.
Where does one even look for Error Code: 2817-0600?
Is that a Nintendo-provided error or a Google-provided error?

It's even worse elsewhere. If you're interested in a virtual reality experience that isn't associated with ruining the world, maybe you're looking at Oculus's Oculus Quest. The Oculus Quest is a virtual reality headset that has all of its processing power in the headset, so you don't need a giant wire connecting you to a computer. It releases May 21, but reviews are already coming in, as well as the help documentation.

In order to actually set up the Oculus Quest, you need a smartphone with the Oculus companion app. Sure, you don't need a computer to run the Oculus, but you do need a smartphone! The app either requires Android 5.0+ (per the Google Play Store entry) or Android 6.0+ (per the Oculus help documentation).

Why can't the Switch have communication features and be fully functional without a smartphone? Why can't the Oculus Quest truly be the “all-in-one” VR gaming headset it advertises itself to be and fully functional without a smartphone?

And why the discrimination towards older smartphone models?

Longtime KoopaTV readers know I've been railing against “mobile trash” on these pages for many years. What is a closely-held secret is that I've owned a smartphone for a couple of years. It's required for my day job in order to enable “two-factor authentication”, a security measure required for accessing business systems. I didn't go out and buy a phone. I got a hand-me-down old Samsung Galaxy S3, which has a maximum Android version of 4.4.2. It's been long out-of-date and unsupported by Google, which only supports operating system versions as low as 7.x. Still, that doesn't mean that app developers should carelessly make it non-compatible when it clearly doesn't have to be.

Nintendo Switch Online mobile app Google Play Android 5.0 or later support April 2019 update
An excerpt of the Nintendo Switch Online app page on Google Play, stating that the April 2019 update now changes supported Android versions to 5.0 and over.
Easy for you to say. I can't change my version without getting a new phone, jerks!

I hate my smartphone, as I figured I would. I've heard many people say that I hate it because it's very out-of-date hardware and if I ever upgraded it to something modern that could run newer apps and have an updated user interface, I'd love it. I don't think so.

Nintendo Switch Online Google Play app isn't compatible with your device anymore
Oh, sure, I'll just go contact Nintendo and they'll respond to me.

So here's my simple request: Hardware like gaming consoles shouldn't have to rely on third-party devices to fully function. It's a hidden cost of ownership that outsources functionality that used to be standard on the gaming device. I consider it a serious design flaw that you can't operate something independently. Don't you?

Ludwig wrote this article focusing on Android smartphones, and he doesn't know if the same kind of issue occurs for Apple phone users as well. He assumes it does and that it must somehow be even worse, just because it's Apple. In case you're wondering, Ludwig only uses his phone for the two-factor authentication app, Nintendo Switch Parental Controls (which still is compatible with Android 4.4 and up), and Discord. No gaming! Unlike every other smartphone screenshot in existence, Ludwig's portrays a healthy battery life.

By the very end of May 2019, Ludwig got a new phone, and he messaged Nintendo about their lack of backwards compatibility.
Ludwig thinks two-factor authentication is an example of this article in practice, and it's sort of an inherently flawed opinion.

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