The phrase "Animal Crossing app" is about to become a bit more confusing: there is, of course, the mobile game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp; in Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Switch, players will have an in-game "Nook Phone" that allows them to access tools like the map; and finally, Nintendo just announced new Animal Crossing: New Horizons-specific features for the Nintendo Switch online mobile app.
On today's Animal Crossing Direct presentation, Nintendo outlined NookLink, a part of the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app for iOS and Android phones. As with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2, NookLink will include some New Horizons small features exclusive to the Nintendo Switch Online app.
One NookLink feature that will be a blessing for long-time Animal Crossing fans is a QR scanner that can read the codes for designs made in the 3DS Animal Crossing games, New Leaf and Happy Home Designer. If you've spent hours working on pristine patterns and pixel art in either game, the app will let you bring them forward into New Horizons. In addition to the Nintendo Switch Online app's usual support for voice chat, it will also enable text chat for New Horizons multiplayer sessions.
The Direct presentation didn't go into detail on NookLink's other options for "passport" functionality and for New Horizons' "best friend" feature, which is a new anti-griefing measure that lets you pick which friends can use terrain-altering tools like axes or shovels while visiting your island. Of course, as with New Horizons' online multiplayer features, using features in NookLink will require a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online.
Nintendo says the NookLink features are planned to launch in March 2020 "soon after" the launch of the game. Animal Crossing: New Horizons shares a release date with Doom Eternal: March 20, 2020.