There’s no doubt the Nintendo Switch has been a runaway success ever since its release nearly four years ago. With its awesome library of games and unique modular design, the console has proved to be a hit with gamers. While you can spend hours exploring Hyrule in Breath of the Wild or racing for first in Mario Kart, the Switch is also home to a number of apps that expand the console’s capabilities beyond gaming. Here we present the best Nintendo Switch apps that are not games.
How to Download Nintendo Switch Apps
All of the apps on this list can be found in the Nintendo eShop. To open the eShop, find the icon that looks like a shopping bag on the Switch home screen toolbar. With the eShop open, use the search bar on the top left of the screen to find the app you wish to download. When the app finishes downloading, you can launch the app via the Switch home screen.
The rollout of major streaming platforms has been notoriously slow on the Nintendo Switch. Out of the big ones, only Hulu and YouTube have had a presence so far, but all that’s now changed thanks to the arrival of game-streaming platform Twitch.
The Twitch Switch app works much like the app on other consoles, albeit with a slightly tweaked UI. Follow your favorite streamers, discover new ones, and even tune in to live sports and eSports on the platform. The main downside to this version is that it doesn’t let you host streams or instantly share gameplay clips to the platform (like you can on the PlayStation and Xbox versions).
If you’re into watching people play games as much as you’re into playing them yourself, then this is the place for you.
2. Pokemon TV
There are few people who own a Switch who aren’t also fans of the inimitable Pokemon, which have been brightening up our lives by calling out their own names since 1997.
Pokemon TV is a treasure trove of Pokemon-related content – from episodes of the classic TV show (right back to the really old stuff), to special events and unique content like exclusive videos that you can only find on the app.
There’s a whole section of the app dedicated to young children, who you can brainwash with catchy Pokemon-themed singalongs and nursery rhymes, and even a digital Pokemon trading card game.
3. Game Builder Garage
So Nintendo Labo didn’t really work out for Nintendo, but now the great publisher is focusing its efforts on taking the best parts of that – the game-building – and expanding it into a fully-fledged game-maker tool.
Game Builder Garage keeps things pretty simple, talking you through the basics of creating your game while letting you see it in action. It’s not quite as robust as something like Super Mario Maker, and while you can share your creations with specific players there’s not (yet) a hub where you can browser other peoples’ creations.
It’s an interesting start though, and a neat introduction into the world of game-making.
4. Coloring Book
The first of our ‘arty’ apps in this list, Coloring Book definitely focuses on the younger end of the spectrum, offering a ton of drawings to color in featuring scenes like dinosaurs, space and, yes, construction sites.
You can dabble in 12 drawings for free, while subsequent ones can be purchased as DLC, so there’s plenty you can do without paying to see if you or your child are into it.
If you don’t want to stay within the constraints of pre-existing drawings, you can instead unleash your creativity on the Whiteboard, which is basically a blank canvas to draw and paint whatever you like.
5. RPG Maker MV
Many great games have come out of the accessible RPG game development tool RPG Maker: Skyborn, Omori and horror hit Corpse Party to name a few. It’s so simple to understand that the Nintendo Switch port of RPG Maker MV will have you being creative in no time.
The MV version of RPG Maker comes with plenty of great features, including a much-improved map editor with great layering, an in-depth event system to sir up drama in your games, and a whole host of built-in resources (as well as the option to add your own graphics, music and effects, of course).
6. Colors Live
The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a ton of options when it comes to mid-complexity drawing and painting apps, which seems like a bit of an oversight given the console’s excellent touchscreen capabilities and reasonably big handheld screen.
Enter Colors Live, an app that you need to buy from the developer’s own site. It comes complete with a precise pressure-sensitive pen with customizable functions like strokes and thickness. Colors Live is pretty much a freeform painting app, but to spice things up, it gamifies your creative journey with a mode that challenges you to paint a little every day, complete with its own progression system.
You can already buy the digital edition, with a retail edition slated for later in the year.
With the Hulu video streaming app, you’ll never miss an episode of the latest water cooler obsession. While the app is free to download, Hulu is a paid service. This means you’ll need to fork over a monthly subscription fee to access its vast library of content. That being said, there is a free seven-day trial if you want to test it out.
The Hulu app for the Switch is easy to use and very similar to the Hulu mobile app. One of the coolest features is the ability to seamlessly switch between portable and docked mode. When docked, Hulu appears on your TV screen. You can also pull your Switch out of the dock and have Hulu continue playing in portable mode without missing a beat.
Speaking of streaming services, YouTube is also available for the Switch. Navigating YouTube using the Switch’s left joystick or D-pad can feel a bit clunky at first, but you get used to it fairly quickly. Additionally, users can sign in to their Google account via the YouTube app to see personalized content, such as channels they subscribe to and recommended videos.
One of the more interesting features of the YouTube app on the Switch comes when watching 360° videos. Users are able to pan around the video using the joysticks. Unsurprisingly, this works really well and feels natural. In addition, users can pair a mobile phone to use as a remote control. This is particularly handy when the Switch console is docked. Finally, content restrictions can be implemented using the Switch’s built-in Parental Control app.
9. KORG Gadget
Want to start making your own music? With the KORG Gadget app, you can start composing tunes on your Nintendo Switch in no time. KORG Gadget is a surprisingly feature-rich digital audio workstation (DAW) complete with 16 different synthesizers. KORG Gadget has previously been released on Mac and iOS, where it has garnered a reputation for being a seriously powerful music production tool. The Switch version of Gadget doesn’t quite live up to its cousins but is still a fun way to create original compositions. In addition, Korg Gadget gamifies music creation by including a cooperative mode. This allows up to four players to manipulate different parts of a song simultaneously.
Furthermore, the Switch’s Joy-cons can be used to augment your arrangements. For example, tilting the Joy-con can change the pitch or alter a wavelength. This makes KORG Gadget incredibly easy to use, even if you’ve never had an experience with a DAW before. The only downside to KORG Gadget on the Switch is its price tag. At the time of this writing, the app will set you back $48.
If you read comics, you’ll definitely want to check out InkyPen. The app is a digital comic book reader and store bundled into an attractive and easy to navigate UI. The Inkypen platform gives users access to thousands of comics from both Western and Eastern publishers. This includes titles from heavy hitters like IDW, Dark Horse and Valiant. In addition, InkyPen boasts a ton of manga, courtesy of Kodansha, the second largest publisher of manga in the world. Unfortunately, there is a noticeably large hole in InkyPen’s massive library – Marvel and DC.
As a reader, the Switch can either be held horizontally or vertically. InkyPen also gives users the ability to read their comics as whole pages, which users can then zoom in on, or as a series of scrolling panels. Additionally, InkyPen works when the Switch is docked, allowing users to read their comics on the big screen. InkyPen requires a monthly subscription of $7.99; however, if you are a voracious reader of comics, it will be money well spent.
If you loved the ability to create your own Mario courses with Super Mario Maker, you’ll definitely want to check out Fuze4. The Fuze4 app allows users to create completely original 2D or 3D games. Fuze4 achieves this by teaching users how to code. It should be noted that Fuze4 is not for the faint of heart. There is a fairly steep learning curve here. It can teach newbies the basics of coding, but serious coders who know what they are doing will get the most mileage here. Yet, the tutorial section of Fuze4 does a good job of breaking things down into more manageable chunks.
Fuze4 does include a few “games” that are little more than demos. The main purpose of these is to enable you to flex your coding skills by adding or editing the game’s code. As a result, Fuze4 is a genuine teaching tool for those with more than a passing interest in seeing how games and applications are built.
While the Nintendo Switch may not boast the same amount of apps as its competitors, there are still a number of apps that you owe it to yourself to check out. If your Switch is running out of space to install new apps, learn how you can move your games to the SD card to free up storage space. To play the back-catalogue of Nintendo classics, see how to get started with the excellent Dolphin emulator. You can also emulate Nintendo Switch games on Windows.
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