Nintendo Switch system software

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Nintendo Switch system software
Nintendo Switch Menu screenshot.png
Operating system and user interface of the Nintendo Switch
DeveloperNintendo, HAL Laboratory[1]
OS familyDerivative of Nintendo 3DS system software
Working stateCurrent
Source modelClosed source
Initial release1.0.0 / 3 March 2017; 2 years ago (2017-03-03)
Latest release7.0.1 / 18 February 2019; 28 days ago (2019-02-18)[2]
Available inAmerican English, British English, European French, Canadian French, German, Latin American Spanish, European Spanish, Italian, Dutch, European Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean
Update methodDirect download
Game Card
PlatformsNintendo Switch
Preceded byWii U (system software), Nintendo 3DS system software

The Nintendo Switch system software is an updatable firmware and operating system used by the Nintendo Switch gaming console.



Nintendo released little about the Switch’s internals into the public. Computer security researchers as well as developers of the Nintendo 3DS emulator Citra analyzed the operating system.[3][4]

They found that the operating system’s internal name is Horizon, that it is an evolution of the Nintendo 3DS system software, and that it implements a microkernel architecture.[3] All drivers run in userspace, including the Nvidia driver which the security researchers described as “kind of similar to the Linux driver”. The graphics driver features an undocumented thin API layer, called NVN, which is “kind of like Vulkan”.[3] All userspace processes use Address Space Layout Randomization and are sandboxed.[3]

According to the Nintendo Switch system software's licensing information, code from FreeBSD kernel is utilized by Horizon.[5]

Horizon utilizes several components from Android such as the Stagefright multimedia framework.[6] According to the Citra authors – who have also begun to develop a Switch emulator called yuzu – “Nintendo re-purposed the Android graphics stack and used it in the Switch for Rendering (computer graphics).”[4]

Rendering of web content is done via WebKit. Although an end-user web browser is not available on the console thus far, a WebKit applet is still accessible when connecting to a network that requires a web login, and the WebKit applet is also used for several operating system functions, such as the Nintendo eShop.[7]

Unlike previous consoles, Nintendo purposefully designed the system software to be as minimalist as possible, with the home menu running under 200 kilobytes. This minimalism is meant to improve system performance and launch games faster.[8]

User interface[edit]

Home Screen[edit]

The Nintendo Switch home screen has battery, internet and time information in the top right corner, and below it is a grid showing all software on the system, downloaded or physical. Underneath that it has shortcuts to OS functions such as the Nintendo eShop, settings, a sleep mode button and more.[9]


The News function of the Nintendo Switch software allows users to read gaming news and advertisements provided by Nintendo and third-party developers.[10] News is also displayed when the system is locked.

The News interface was originally available in the 1.0.0 version of the software, however new headlines were not transmitted until the 2.0.0 update was released. The 3.0.0 update revamped the News system, adding multiple news "channels" for different games that users can subscribe to. The news headlines that appear depend on which channels are subscribed to. The 4.0.0 update further improved the News screen, updating its layout.

Nintendo eShop[edit]

The Nintendo eShop option on the Home menu opens a WebKit-based interface that allows games to be purchased and downloaded from the Nintendo eShop.[citation needed]


The Album stores captured screenshots and videos. Pressing the "Capture" button on the controller, in supported software, will save a screenshot, either to the microSD card, or to the system memory. The Album allows users to view screenshots that have been taken. Screenshots can be edited by adding text, and they can be shared to Facebook or Twitter.[11] In addition, in supported games, holding down the Capture button briefly will save the last 30 seconds of video to the Album. It can then be trimmed and posted online.[12]

The 2.0.0 update added the ability to post screenshots to Facebook or Twitter from within the system UI, making it easier to share screenshots. The 4.0.0 update added support for saving 30 second videos, in compatible games.


The Controllers menu allows for controllers to be paired, disconnected, or reconnected. The 3.0.0 update added the "Find Controllers" option, which allows any nearby controllers that have been paired to be remotely turned on and vibrated, to help find lost controllers.[13]


The Settings option allows for system settings to be changed, and includes other functionality, such as creating Miis.[14]

History of updates[edit]

The initial version of the system software for Nintendo Switch on the launch day consoles was updated as a "day one" patch on March 3, 2017, the console's launch date.[15] The update added online features that were previously missing from the original software before its official launch date. Some notable features of this update are access to the Nintendo eShop as well as the ability to add friends to a friends list, similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS.[16]

Nintendo Switch System Software Release History
Version Release date Features
1.0.0 Before console release Initial release of Nintendo Switch system software
2.0.0 3 March 2017; 2 years ago (2017-03-03)
  • Games can now be played online
  • Friends list added
  • Screenshots can now be posted to Facebook and Twitter
  • Nintendo eShop made available
  • Nintendo News added
  • My Nintendo reward points can now be earned for retail games
  • On TVs compatible with HDMI-CEC, the TV will automatically turn on when the Switch turns on
  • Battery percentage displayed on Home Menu
  • Added microSD format option
2.1.0 27 March 2017; 23 months ago (2017-03-27)

Undisclosed changes

2.2.0 17 April 2017; 22 months ago (2017-04-17)

Undisclosed changes

2.3.0 15 May 2017; 21 months ago (2017-05-15)

Undisclosed changes

3.0.0 19 June 2017; 20 months ago (2017-06-19)
  • Channels for specific topics can now be subscribed to in News
  • Users can now send requests to people already on their Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists
  • Notifications for when friends go online
  • Paired controllers can now be found through the vibration feature
  • The order of user profiles can now be changed
  • 6 new Splatoon 2 profile icons added
  • Quick Settings now allows users to change the system volume
  • The maximum sound volume can now be altered
  • Inverted Colors and Grayscale color formats are now available
  • USB keyboards are now usable when docked
  • The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can now be used over a USB cable
  • Option in Settings to update the firmware of controllers
  • The system will automatically suggest software to delete when there is not enough space for a download

Undisclosed changes

3.0.1 31 July 2017; 19 months ago (2017-07-31)

Bug fixes, including:

  • Addressed an issue in which the remaining battery charge can't be displayed accurately
3.0.2 5 September 2017; 18 months ago (2017-09-05)
  • Added "Nintendo Switch Online" service
  • Online play now available in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru (until September 18, 2018, when Nintendo Switch Online was released)

Undisclosed changes and bug fixes

4.0.0 18 October 2017; 16 months ago (2017-10-18)
  • Users can now hold the Capture button to record the last 30 seconds of gameplay to the Album
  • 12 profile pictures from Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild added
  • User profiles and save data can now be transferred
  • Games on the Nintendo eShop can now be pre-ordered
  • New design for the News Feed
  • Unfollowing a news channel will now remove all of its content from the News feed until it is re-followed
  • New feature that allows a group of players to update their software
  • Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Korean languages made available
  • Support for USB headsets
  • Support for USB controllers, such as GameCube Controllers via adapters

Undisclosed changes and bug fixes

4.0.1 25 October 2017; 16 months ago (2017-10-25)

Bug fixes, including:

  • Changed the HDMI connection process specification to match that of version 3.0.2 to address video and sound output issues with some TV models
4.1.0 4 December 2017; 15 months ago (2017-12-04)

Bug fixes, including:

  • Resolved an issue that caused motion controls to respond incorrectly when playing games that use this feature
5.0.0 12 March 2018; 11 months ago (2018-03-12)
  • Friends can now be added via Facebook and Twitter
  • 24 new profile pictures, based on ARMS and the Kirby series
  • Purchases made using a PC or phone now start downloading faster
  • Filters added to News
  • Parental Controls PIN entry interface changed
  • Captured videos in Album are now restricted based on Parental Controls
  • Specific games can now be whitelisted using Parental Controls
  • A notification is now sent when pre-purchased software is made available to play
  • The UI now displays the color of Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers

Bug fixes, including:

  • Fixed bug that caused incorrect play time display on user pages
5.0.1 26 March 2018; 11 months ago (2018-03-26)

Undisclosed changes

5.0.2 16 April 2018; 10 months ago (2018-04-16)

Undisclosed changes and bug fixes, including:

  • Fix issue that caused motion controls to respond incorrectly
  • Fix display issue with icons for recommended friends
5.1.0 30 May 2018; 9 months ago (2018-05-30)

Undisclosed changes

6.0.0 18 September 2018; 5 months ago (2018-09-18)

Updates regarding Nintendo Switch Online

6.0.1 8 October 2018; 5 months ago (2018-10-08) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
  • Resolved an issue where internet connection test does not display correct results for download and upload speed
  • Resolved an issue where some licensed controllers' motion controls such as tilt function respond incorrectly
6.1.0 29 October 2018; 4 months ago (2018-10-29) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:
  • Resolved an issue where certain games don’t recognize a Nintendo Switch Online membership for a short time after purchase
6.2.0 19 November 2018; 3 months ago (2018-11-19)

Updates TSEC Encryption and Boot Process in an effort to combat console hacking/piracy/homebrew

7.0.0 28 January 2019; 49 days ago (2019-01-28)

General system stability improvements to enhance user's experience

7.0.1 18 February 2019; 28 days ago (2019-02-18) General system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "HAL Laboratory developed various parts of Switch".
  2. ^ "Nintendo Switch System Updates and Change History". Nintendo. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Console Security - Switch". Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Progress Report 2018 Part 1". yuzu.
  5. ^ "What hackers know of the Nintendo Switch so far". 9 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Hacker nehmen Nintendos Switch ins Visier". heise online (in German). Heinz Heise. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  7. ^ Cunningham, Andrew. "Nintendo Switch ships with unpatched 6-month-old WebKit vulnerabilities". Ars Technica. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  8. ^ Craddock, Ryan (August 22, 2018). "The Switch's Home Menu Uses Less Than 200 KB Of Resources For Super-Fast Load Times". Nintendo Life. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  9. ^ "HOME Menu Overview". Nintendo. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  10. ^ "News Overview". Nintendo. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  11. ^ "How to Capture and View Screenshots". Nintendo. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "How to Capture and Edit Gameplay Video". Nintendo. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  13. ^ "How to Use the "Find Controllers" Feature". Nintendo. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  14. ^ "How to Create a Mii". Nintendo. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  15. ^ Kyle Orland (1 March 2017). "Nintendo Switch review: Meet the Game Boy Entertainment System". ArsTechnica. Condé Nast.
  16. ^ Craig Majaski (23 February 2017). "Day 1 Nintendo Switch OS Update Details". NintendoTimes.

External links[edit]