You Can Now Use the Nintendo Switch Voice Chat App While in Other Apps or When iPhone is Locked

Ahead of the Nintendo Direct coming this afternoon, Nintendo recently updated its Switch Online voice chat iOS app with a few useful tweaks to the way the software handles chatting online with friends. Prior to the update, you had to keep the app open at all times to hear and be heard by your friends while playing games like Splatoon 2.

Now, Nintendo explains in the app's update notes that you can both browse to other iPhone apps and lock the device, and voice chat will continue to function in the background through the Nintendo Switch Online app.


The expanded functionality of voice chat should greatly enhance the usefulness of Nintendo's app and online services, which will turn into a monthly paid subscription sometime in 2018. Pricing and tiers include $3.99/month, $7.99/3 months, and $19.99/year.

The app first launched on July 18, a few days ahead of Splatoon 2's debut, allowing gamers to visit SplatNet 2 on their iOS device to look at previous match statistics, check out current stages in rotation, and invite friends to Private Battles on the Switch console. Nintendo's upcoming 45-minute Direct will begin this afternoon at 3 p.m PT and plans to focus on games coming to Switch and 3DS consoles.


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Apple’s Domination of Component Supply Chain Said to Be Constraining Nintendo Switch Production

A new article by The Wall Street Journal today has taken a look into the increased pressure put on suppliers of NAND flash memory units, as well as other smartphone components, and how Apple might be indirectly affecting the supply of the Nintendo Switch. According to people in the industry, smartphone makers -- namely Apple -- and their increasing ramp-up on component manufacturing for high-end devices have led to dwindling supplies of Nintendo Switch.

Specifically, Nintendo is lacking components related to NAND flash-memory chips, liquid-crystal displays, and the motors used in the Switch's HD Rumble feature. NAND memory chip supplies are said to be placed mainly upon the shoulders of Toshiba's struggling NAND chip unit, which is still up for sale despite legal troubles that have plagued the company over the past few weeks. In April, Apple was rumored to be looking into spending several billion for a "substantial stake" in Toshiba's NAND chip unit.


Apple's manufacturing ramp-up on the upcoming "iPhone 8" is said to be behind some of the supply chain constraints faced by Nintendo, as well as ongoing demand for the iPhone 7. Currently, Apple manufactures iPhone 7 with an LCD display and various internal sizes of NAND memory. The Nintendo Switch has a multi-touch LCD display and 32GB of internal memory.
People in the industry say the rapid expansion of web-based services for corporations has driven demand for computer servers that use flash memory. Continued demand for Apple’s iPhone 7 and a 10th anniversary model of the iPhone expected later this year are also keeping parts makers at full capacity, helping power Japan’s economy to its longest growth streak since 2006.

“Demand for our NAND flash memory has been overwhelmingly greater than supply, and the situation is likely to stay for the rest of this year,” said a spokeswoman at Toshiba Corp.
For Nintendo, the company has said it hopes to make as many as 20 million Switch units by the end of its financial year, in March 2018. Thanks to supply constraints, the actual sales target of the year is 10 million units, although "strong demand suggests it can sell many more - if it can make them." In its first month on the market, Nintendo sold 2.74 million Switch units.

Analysts watching the supply chain said that Nintendo's rivals "offer better terms" than the video game company, and that smartphone makers like Apple specifically "issue larger orders than Nintendo." This leads to manufacturers giving preference to companies other than Nintendo, and subsequent shortages for its products. Increased spending to secure more parts at a faster rate for the Switch isn't a possibility for Nintendo, as president Tatsumi Kimishima doesn't want the console's $299 retail price to increase.


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Nintendo Switch Vulnerable to Hacking Through Outdated Version of Apple’s WebKit Browser Engine

iOS hacker qwertyoruiop has discovered that an old iOS 9.3 WebKit vulnerability lies hidden within Nintendo's latest home console/portable hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, and subsequently hacked the console in the process (via SlashGear). The exploit lies in the Switch's limited web browser functionality, which allows users to sync up with Twitter and Facebook as well as connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots, and is all run by Apple's open source browser engine WebKit.

The Switch's version of WebKit is older than the one currently running on up-to-date iOS and macOS devices, however, allowing Nintendo's device to become vulnerable to a collection of critical exploits that plagued iOS 9.3 last summer. One, named "Pegasus," was a highly sophisticated exploit that installed itself within an iOS device through a link sent via a text message. Apple eventually addressed and fixed these issues with iOS 9.3.5.



For unknown reasons, Nintendo opted to include a version of WebKit that doesn't have these fixes, allowing qwertyoruiop to use an existing iOS WebKit jailbreak, remove any iOS-specific code, and tweak it so it runs on the Switch. The existence of a known exploit running on Switch points towards a rushed release, which was already believed to be the case since the company's fiscal year ends March 31, 2017 and the Switch launched March 3.

Developer LiveOverflow yesterday published a proof of concept video on the Switch WebKit exploit, further detailing how the bug originating on Apple's devices can be used to hack a Nintendo Switch.


The userland exploit "doesn’t mean much for the end user," according to Wololo, because it hasn't revealed any detailed information on the Switch yet, nor does it hand over full kernel access to hackers. As the news slowly makes the rounds online, it's most likely that Nintendo will add in a patch to the old WebKit exploit in a future update to the Switch.


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Nintendo Switch Acts as External Battery Pack for USB-C MacBook Pro, Parental Control App Available

The Nintendo Switch launches worldwide tomorrow, March 3, and as journalists and reviewers have had their hands on the console for the past week, news of its hardware and software features have been shared online.

This week, Quartz technology reporter Mike Murphy discovered that when plugging the Nintendo Switch into a MacBook Pro through a dual USB-C cable, the Switch inexplicably acts as an external battery pack for the Apple laptop, providing charge to the MacBook instead of being charged itself. In the image, it appears that a third party USB-C cable is being used to connect the two devices (in the box, Switch only comes with a USB-C to AC adapter cable).



Murphy also discovered a slight workaround: if users power down the Switch before connecting it to the MacBook, then the MacBook will charge the Switch. The Switch will also charge off of Apple's USB-C wall adapter cable bundled in recent MacBook boxes, and sold separately online.

Nintendo confirmed on its website that the Switch has a non-removable 4310mAh, 3.7V Lithium-ion battery, and early FCC filings -- as well as recent pictures -- of the included AC adapter confirmed that the console draws power up to 15.0V/2.6A, equating to 39W. The non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro has a 54.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery and can draw up to 61W from a power adapter.

Since much of Nintendo Switch's battery-related questions are still up in the air in the time before launch, it remains unclear why the console would not automatically leech charge off the larger MacBook Pro. As game designer Bennett Foddy pointed out on Twitter, the connection between the Switch and MacBook Pro isn't inherently buggy or wrong, but it's easy to think that the MacBook Pro (battery life ~10 hours) would naturally provide power to the Switch (battery life 2.5-6.5 hours), like it does to iPhones and iPads.

In related Nintendo Switch and Apple news, Nintendo today launched its Nintendo Switch Parental Control app for iOS devices on the App Store [Direct Link]. The app will let parents remotely control the content of the games their kids play, as well as for how long, and even be able to restrict certain ESRB ratings and online features.


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Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App Will Let Parents Remotely Control Switch Console

In the wake of major reveals surrounding the Nintendo Switch and its launch titles, Nintendo has announced a new app coming to smartphone devices that will allow parents to set granular control settings on their family's Switch console (via IGN). The free "Nintendo Switch Parental Controls" app will offer various settings like time limits and remote sleep mode activation, all without a parent having to be near the Switch itself.

The basic feature of the app lets adults set customized play times on the Nintendo Switch, and whenever that time limit is reached the system will notify the player in the top left corner of the screen. Whenever the applied time limit is exceeded, parents can use a "last resort" feature and remotely suspend the software being played, ensuring that "further play won't be possible for the rest of the day."


Play time limits can be set for each day of the week so parents can allot more time on the weekends, or reward kids on a specific weekday. The app will also send push notifications with details about the console's most-played games "so there's no need to peek over any shoulders," according to Nintendo.

Other standard controls include restricting particular ESRB rated games, online communication, and the ability to connect and post to social networks from the Switch. Nintendo says that it hopes the new app can help parents and their kids "enjoy gaming together." During its presentation yesterday, the company also mentioned another app centered around users connecting to their Switch console for online chat, but no details have yet been provided on that particular app.
Keep the focus on fun by using parental controls to manage how your family interacts with Nintendo Switch. You can manage Nintendo eShop purchases, limit sharing on social networks, restrict access to games based on their ESRB ratings, and more. A free app gives you even more choices and a handy way to manage your Nintendo Switch parental controls from anywhere via your mobile device.
It also wasn't specified which platforms the Parental Controls app will launch on, but given that Nintendo's first smartphone games -- Miitomo and Super Mario Run -- launched as iOS exclusives, it's likely this app will be available on Apple devices as well. The full Nintendo Switch presentation, as well as each game trailer that debuted during the event, can be found on Nintendo's YouTube channel.

For more details on the Switch and its family settings, check out Nintendo's website here.


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