Nintendo: Expose the fully-functional Internet browser built into the Switch!
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Ever since the Switch launched, it has featured a fully-functional built-in Internet Browser within its Operating System. This functions much how it does on a mobile phone, and has support for browsing most modern Internet websites, as well as support for video playback.
It is mind-boggling then that despite this fact, the browser is not accessible to the user. It's only usable in very specific circumstances, such as when using public wifi hotspots or sharing information on social media.
There's no shortage of news articles and instructional tutorials on different methods to access the hidden Switch Internet browser. Here are a few:
- The Nintendo Switch has a secret browser, but you can’t use it...
- How to Access the Hidden Nintendo Switch Browser
- How to use the hidden web browser on Nintendo Switch...
- YouTube: Secret Browser on Nintendo Switch
Some companies and individuals have even put the browser to use and productized it in various ways:
- Giving presentations: How we unlocked the hidden web browser in the Nintendo Switch to turn it into a Meeting Room Display
- Ordering an Uber: YouTube: Nintendo Switch ... Orders a Ride!
- Chatting on Discord: Discross.digital
For the past three years, I've been personally involved in Switch gaming communities, hosting and providing these resources to people to help them get the most of the web browser locked away inside of the Switch. Nintendo however, at every turn, is doing their best to keep the user from being able to browse the Internet on their Switch.
1. The most common method of accessing the browser (via DNS) had video playback disabled in Switch firmware 3.0.0. There is no obvious reason why this functionality was removed, except to prevent the user from watching videos online.
2. The Switch browser completely wipes and removes cookies and saved metadata between launches. If this information were stored, people using the Internet browser would have a much more pleasant experience.
3. A whitelist of URLs has been consistently updated in accessing via the Social applet, only ever getting more restrictive as to which certain sections of the Internet the user is allowed to visit.
4. Nintendo added an ad blocker to the browser to help de-incentivize people like me from providing resources to people who want to use it. This makes the Nintendo Switch the only electronic device that ships with a form of Ad blocker. The hidden browser that users aren't allowed to freely access will not show you any ads!
For more information on what functionality has been added or removed to the browser over the last years, see Switchbrew - Internet Browser.
The Nintendo DS, Wii, 3DS, and Wii U all have had user-accessible Internet browsers. These browsers had complete access to the Internet and were even marketed to consumers as features. Here are some links about each of those experiences:
- Wii: Wikipedia: Internet Channel - Features
- DS: Wikipedia: Nintendo DS & DSi Browser
- 3DS: Internet Browser Specifications
- Wii U: Iwata Asks: Wii U: Internet Browser
It's possible that Nintendo views the role of an Internet browser on a console/handheld as less important in today's world of Smart TVs and Smartphones. Despite that however, they've already done the hard part– The Internet browser exists! And people are using it.
Having hosted some resources and DNS servers to aide in accessing and using the browser, I've personally received over the last 3 years tens of thousands (!!) of points of feedback on what users want to see added to the browser. And of course, my answer is always the same: We can't do anything about that, please ask Nintendo.
So that is the point of the petition. Please Nintendo, consider exposing this hidden browser to us and removing the limitations that you've put in place. It's clear that the browser's presence on the Switch means that Nintendo sees the value in the Internet, now see the value in users being able to freely access it.
Some personal info about me: I'm vgmoose, a software developer who makes apps for the Switch. I'm also a founding member of the organization ForTheUsers.org, whose namesake should reveal why I've taken the time to lay out this case.
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