Nintendo’s first smartphone app has launched in the West

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Nintendo’s first smartphone app has been enjoying quite a bit of success in Japan, but now it’s time to see if the app will be as popular in the West. Known as Miitomo, the quirky app launched on Android and iOS in several Western countries earlier today, including Canada and the United States. Only time will tell if it’ll find much success outside of Japan, but it’s important to understand before you decided to check it out for yourself that it’s not a game, it’s almost a messaging app and almost a social networking app, but it’s not quite either of them.

The first thing to know about Nintendo’s Miitomo is that it isn’t a game. Not really. The way the company is describing its long-awaited mobile release is “an app from Nintendo that brings out a side of you your friends have never seen before”. So Miitomo isn’t competing directly against Clash Royale, Game of War and Candy Crush Saga. It’s hard to say what it is competing against though: it sits somewhere between Snapchat, Bitstrips (which Snapchat has just bought) and any social app using emoji and digital stickers. Miitomo was released in Japan earlier in March, notching up more than 1m downloads in its first three days. Now it has launched in a host of other countries – including the UK, Ireland US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various European countries – as a free download for iOS and Android devices. At its centre are the Mii avatars that will be familiar to anyone who’s owned a device from Nintendo’s Wii and DS families in recent years. The app gets you to create a Mii character – including using your smartphone’s camera if you want it to look like you – and tweaking how it moves and speaks, before sending it off as a “social go-between” for you and your friends.

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