Nintendo announced surprisingly that the Bluetooth audio support came to the switch through a software update. The ability to use Bluetooth headphones to listen to game audio has been noticeably lacking since the console was launched in 2017. So it’s great to finally have them – although there are some limitations.
According to a Nintendo support article, you are limited to using two wireless controllers when you have a bluetooth headset connected. The system also doesn’t support Bluetooth microphones, which isn’t necessarily surprising given that Nintendo’s own voice chat system is based on an app that runs on your phone. Still, it’s a disappointment for people who play games with their own built-in voice chat capabilities.
People went to great lengths to get wireless audio on their Switch (we even said it would be a great selling point for a Switch Pro): there were accessories that acted as bluetooth audio adapters and some headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless came with a dongle that took advantage of the switch’s support for wireless USB headphones.
Having Bluetooth audio built in is a big deal though, especially since Nintendo’s Pro Controller, unlike many others, doesn’t have a headphone jack. Despite the above limitations, the feature seems to be well supported – Nintendo says the Switch can store up to 10 connected devices and says it should work with both the regular Switch and the Switch Lite.
My colleague Jay Peters was able to connect his AirPods Pro to his base Switch and a Switch Lite without any major problems. There is a section for “Bluetooth Audio” in the Settings menu, and you can pair your headphones from there by following the instructions.
The AirPods Pro worked fine for a few laps WarioWare: Get it together, without noticeable delay – something that is especially important for WarioWare’s fast-paced, restless microgames. While using his base Switch, Jay also reports that after a cold start, his AirPods Pro paired almost immediately after selecting them again in the settings menu.
However, Sean Hollister’s second generation Switch (not a Lite) was struggling to find and connect to Bluetooth devices. He was given an Arctis Pro Wireless to connect after rebooting the switch three times, but most attempts failed, including a set of first-generation Amazon Echo Buds and Wyze Buds Pro, a Bluetooth adapter for the Bose QC25, and an LG TV . While some of them sometimes appeared available for pairing, the gaming system spat out the message “Bluetooth audio devices cannot be found” even after repeated attempts.
According to the changelog, the update also adds some features to make wired internet more useful. The Switch can stay connected to the internet even in sleep mode if it’s hard-wired, apparently either through an adapter or the built-in LAN port on the upcoming Nintendo Switch OLED dock. Nintendo says this will help the console download content while it is idle and that the feature is turned on by default. Oh, and you may need to do firmware updates for the dock with the built-in LAN port too. I wouldn’t expect these to be as exciting as this update, however.