Nintendo Switch Update Finally Adds Bluetooth Audio


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Nintendo has updated the Switch many times since its launch, usually adding a minor feature here and there. The latest update, though, adds a big one. The Switch now has native support for Bluetooth audio, allowing you to pair your favorite headphones with the hybrid game console. There are a few limitations, but it’s still great to (finally) have the option. 

Even at launch, it seemed like the Switch should have been able to talk to your earbuds. After all, it uses Bluetooth to communicate with the controllers, and therein lies the first limitation: You can only have two controllers paired with the Switch when using Bluetooth audio. The microphone on your device will go unused as well, but that’s not surprising as Nintendo Online barely supports voice chat at all. 

The Switch has a headphone jack, but it’s annoying to have the cable dangling in your way if you’ve got the Joy-Cons disconnected and are swinging them around. Even before this update, it was possible to get wireless audio on the Switch but not without jumping through some hoops. There were a number of tiny Bluetooth radios that plugged into the device’s USB-C port, but these could have spotty Bluetooth compatibility and wasted power on a second Bluetooth radio. 

With the latest update, you can just head into the system settings and there will be a new menu for Bluetooth audio. Just pop in there, and any nearby Bluetooth devices in pairing mode should appear. I’ve tested this with an early Switch and some Sony earbuds and headphones. They connected quickly, and the audio lag didn’t seem bad at all. That will vary depending on your Bluetooth device’s capabilities. 

The Switch can save up to 10 previously connected devices. So, reconnecting should be as simple as turning the headphones or earbuds on in close proximity to the Switch. It’s the same for the original Switch and the Lite. Presumably, the upcoming OLED Switch will function the same way. That device will also have better wired network support, as of this update. The console will be able to remain connected during sleep mode, allowing it to install updates while not in use. On current hardware, this is only possible with an adapter, but the OLED Switch’s dock will have an Ethernet port.

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