I love the Nintendo Switch UI
It makes all other consoles seem slow and old.
I know that the Switch is still a little lacking in OS features for a modern console.
But man, does it go fast and work well!
This is not a new thought at all. I’m probably the millionth person to write about this, but I only just got one two days ago, and already I feel like Microsoft and Sony are really screwing up.
Sure, the social features and number of apps on the Switch are essentially zero compared to an Xbox One or PS4…but if you just want to play some games really quickly…there’s no better machine right now than the Switch.
The machine boots almost instantaneously.
System updates install so fast that I thought something was broken at first, given that the other two machines are filled with multiple progress bars and reboots.
Jumping from game to game is effortless, punctuated only by a short look at the Nintendo Switch logo splash screen.
It’s a wonderful user experience.
SUSPEND/RESUME ACTUALLY WORKS ON SWITCH
I was really excited when Microsoft and Sony both announced that their new consoles would have suspend features. I don’t always have a lot of time to play a game, and often games have arcane save systems or too much time between checkpoints. The DS and 3DS were great because I could just close the machine and get on with my life for a while without worrying about hitting some arbitrary developer-chosen point.
So I was stoked for that feature to come to bigger consoles. But they both totally hosed it.
It didn’t even exist on PS4 at all on launch.
On Xbox One it was at least there on day one…but it launched in “beta.” And the implementation on both machines has always been wonky at best.
Games don’t make it clear whether or not they fully support it, even now. Sometimes games will properly suspend in the background when you exit to the menu….other times they’ll just keep quietly running no matter what you do.
That’s why my Shadow of Mordor save gained about 20 extra hours of playtime last week.
And if your chosen game has any kind of online features? Forget it. And I’m not talking about multiplayer here. Obviously that’s not going to work right with any suspend feature.
I mean games with simple leaderboards or other asynchronous functions. Often, the second you resume your game, it’ll freak out and tell you you’ve been disconnected from the server and that you’ve got to go back to the menu. Bioware’s games are particularly bad at this.
In the original Xbox One UI, you could see what was running on the console thanks to its live video window (man I miss that). Now that’s gone and replaced with a tiny indicator that says “resume,” your only indication that something is already running.
On PS4, the suspended software is indicated with a tiny spinning circle.
The suspend feature is so completely buried on both of these machines that they must either think that it’s perfect as-is…or have data that no one really uses it. My gut instinct is that it’s the second one. Too many people must have been burned by this half-hearted implementation, so they just quit and reload their games.
None of these problems exist on Switch.
When you exit to the menu, it properly pauses and suspends the game. A giant indicator that says PLAYING shows up over the tile for the game on the main screen. And it just works. As a result, it’s easy to pop in and out of games whether I’m at home or playing portably. I don’t have to go through any kind of convoluted save process or worry about whether I’ve hit a checkpoint if I suddenly need to go.
FUN SOUNDS AND SNAPPINESS
The Switch UI is also fun to navigate. It’s quick, and responsive, and easy to get around with a controller. It makes fun little sounds and musical tones as I zip around, as if it wants me to have fun just using the menu. I love the ascending/descending notes that play as I scroll through certain selections.
It has clearly been super carefully designed to be an enjoyable menu-ing experience.
The result is a UI/UX that doesn’t get in my way, helps me to have fun more quickly, and generally respects me as a user.
And it even has decent support for touch screen controls when you’re on the go.
Yes, I absolutely want it to have better social support and maybe some video apps down the road. But as a UI for letting me quickly play games that I own, easily see screenshots I’ve taken, and browse the online store…it’s second to none.
I wish every other console would just go ahead and steal everything Nintendo has done for UI design here. It’s simple, fast, and great.