Nintendo has announced that a software update has added Bluetooth audio functionality to the Switch. Since the console’s introduction in 2017, the option to listen to game audio with Bluetooth headphones has been a noticeably missing feature, so it’s fantastic to finally have it — albeit there are some limits.
If you have a Bluetooth headset connected, you’ll only be able to use two wireless controllers, according to a Nintendo support page. The system also doesn’t support Bluetooth mics, which isn’t unexpected considering Nintendo’s own voice chat system is based on a phone app. Even still, it’s a disappointment for those who enjoy games with built-in voice chat.
People have gone to great lengths to get wireless audio on their Switch (we even suggested it as a selling point for a Switch Pro): there have been Bluetooth audio adapter accessories, and some headsets, such as the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless, came with a dongle that took advantage of the Switch’s support for USB wireless headphones.
Having Bluetooth audio built-in is significant, especially given that, unlike many other controllers, Nintendo’s Pro Controller lacks a headphone connector (though it’s worth mentioning that the PS5 and Xbox Series don’t support Bluetooth audio natively). Despite the limits, Nintendo claims that the Switch can save up to 10 linked devices and that it should operate with both the normal Switch and the Switch Lite.
Jay Peters, one of my coworkers, had no problem connecting his AirPods Pro to his base Switch and a Switch Lite. There’s a section for “Bluetooth Audio” in the settings menu, and you may link your headphones there by following the instructions.
Jay’s AirPods Pro performed admirably in a few rounds of WarioWare: Get It Together, with no discernible lag – crucial in WarioWare’s fast-paced, twitchy microgames. Jay also claims that after a cold boot on his base Switch, his AirPods Pro connected almost immediately after choosing them again in the settings menu.
Sean Hollister’s second-generation Switch (not a Lite), on the other hand, had difficulties identifying and connecting to any Bluetooth devices. After three reboots of the Switch, he was able to connect an Arctis Pro Wireless, but most other efforts failed, including with a pair of first-generation Amazon Echo Buds and Wyze Buds Pro, a Bluetooth adaptor for the Bose QC25, and an LG TV set. Even though some of them appeared to be available for connection at times, the gaming system spit forth a “Unable to detect Bluetooth audio devices” warning after repeated tries.
The update also adds certain features to make wired internet more usable, according to the changelog. If the Switch is plugged in, it will be able to stay connected to the internet even when in sleep mode, either via an adapter or the built-in LAN connection on the forthcoming Nintendo Switch OLED dock. According to Nintendo, this will allow the system to download material while it is sleeping, and the option will be enabled by default. You may also need to upgrade the firmware on the dock with the built-in LAN port. However, I don’t think they’ll be as interesting as this one.