The Nintendo Wii introduced something unique to the Nintendo table, bringing together an accessible interface with games that were naturally understood by gaming enthusiasts and newcomers alike. By using the Wii Remote, players are able to point towards the screen and use the Wii interface like an advanced television remote. The very idea just made sense to anyone and practically everyone who'd used a television before.
Outside the games themselves, Nintendo Wii introduced smaller apps and tools called "channels", accessible from a central home hub. By default players had access to a family notice board, a photo/video channel, news, weather and were soon introduced to a selection of other interactive apps. Whilst over time these apps tended to become neglected for the masses, the core tools like photo/video channel were still considered useful to those wanting to share their media.
With the Wii U offering a Touch Screen and support for Wii Remotes, there is potential for various applications Nintendo could release to enhance the gaming experience beyond traditional software, potentially linking these to Miiverse for a unified means of sharing and content creating.
Miiverse itself has changed the game for Nintendo, developers and Wii U players by opening up the conversation to the latest releases and key franchises, keeping things relevant and useful. By developing more apps around Miiverse and accessible from the Wii U home, Nintendo could take communication that step further.
1. Wii U Drawing App
After the success of Art Academy on the Nintendo DS and 3DS, plus the influx of art on Miiverse, it's likely that Nintendo are dabbling in drawing technology for the Nintendo Wii U. Miiverse offers a black and white toolset with a fairly limited number of options for the player to quickly input their ideas and post. Despite some truly exceptional artwork, how about a dedicated drawing app that could be connected to Miiverse; perhaps like an "Advanced Tools" option or dedicated Wii U Drawing Miiverse community for those wanting to go further.
The GamePad touch screen and stylus seem to be the perfect fit for the Wii U system. The screen is wide enough, the main television can show a photo for inspiration, and the setup can even be used for a handful of drawing games - variations of Pictionary, speed art and much more. It would be perfect tool for the family to use and far easier than using a Wii Remote to draw.
2. Wii U Media Player
The Wii U does lack DVD functionality, though there perhaps is potential to "unlock" it via a purchased software update. But with the consumer shifting away from disc media gradually and opting for digital means instead, the Wii U is crying out for a dedicated media player that could read USB hard-drives and SD cards. Even the original Wii was able to view camera images on the TV and it would be a useful addition to the Wii U media profile. Granted a growing number of TVs have card readers or USB slots, but it seems strange to omit an option that's was already available on its predecessor.
The GamePad could be used to select photos or videos to show on the big screen, manipulate images with effects, captions and have more control over slideshows. Playing music, watching downloaded videos would be a useful addition for those who aren't able to connect their PC, tablet or laptop to their TV.
A digital music player could be useful for those who would want to switch out a game's music in favour of their own, or to use the GamePad to easily select tracks and manage playlists at a party, for example - a jukebox controller.
3. Wii U Live Gaming App
Nintendo Wii U already has a Wii U Chat app, but how about the ability to have other players watch in on your gameplay, whether it's for fun, to spectate a tournament or even to watch a live attempt at a playthrough. Comments could be saved to a Miiverse community, and by watching live could invite other owners to step up and join in the experience.
It might take a fair bit of Wii U processing to stream to multiple clients, unless Nintendo hosts or partners with server providers who can run their own live streams. A service like this could be part of a paid-for optional online service for those wanting to broadcast their playthroughs live.
4. Wii U User Content - Stages, Maps etcNintendo have already stated that there are plans to enhance Miiverse with more specific in-game tools, like loading software to a certain point in the game. By having a user content gallery within Miiverse or a standalone app, this could certainly be a very much used feature. The system could host custom characters, stages, maps, challenges created by users and fed directly into Miiverse.
Loading a specific stage, say for Super Smash Bros. U, could take the user directly to the stage builder section within the game, ready to brawl and save for future battles.
5. Wii U Screenshots and VideosCurrently it's still an odd process to save screenshots from within a game and upload these to Miiverse. The home button must be pressed, Miiverse loaded and the image posted before returning to the software to take another snapshot. It's unclear and slightly clunky. Pressing the home button should optionally save the screenshot to a gallery with folder for each title, ready to upload to Miiverse, save to external storage or pop onto social networks.
The same should said for videos. Wii U currently doesn't allow players to save recordings of their play sessions, but a similar process could apply to videos. Tap the home button, press record and tap the home button again to stop and footage would be saved in a specific folder on the Wii U system or external storage.
Whilst not for everyone, game playthroughs offer a glimpse of how others perform and especially those who string together impressive speedruns. A growing number of gamers are making themselves known by recording footage, and the Wii U has the potential to tap into the market by allowing players to save sessions without the need for dedicated capture hardware.
6. Wii U Video Editor / Animator
The Wii U setup would be perfect for players to edit videos, add effects, commentary, text and images with footage they've captured during gameplay or accessed from storage. Whilst nothing can come close to video editors on computers, a basic editor could be a nifty addition to Wii U, especially if coupled with gameplay footage and commentary. The GamePad itself could display a drag-and-drop interface for clips, effects tweaking and the project timeline, whilst the TV could show a preview of the rendered video sequence. How about combining art with motion with tools for animators, too?
The ability to upload to YouTube, Vimeo and other video networks directly from Wii U, or Miiverse if the footage was captured from a game, would be a bonus.
7. Dedicated Facebook and Twitter AppsWhy Facebook and Twitter if players already have access to the increasingly growing and popular Miiverse communities? Facebook and Twitter are already long established, and integrating them on the Wii U could just add that extra layer of interactivity on the system, especially if friends from Miiverse can be cross-linked with other social networks.
The ability to show currently playing games as status updates, any in-game achievements, or simply sharing screenshots, Miiverse drawings and videos would be a useful addition to have. A timeline widget could be displayed when pressing the Home button that could show latest Miiverse updates from friends, plus Twitter and Facebook in a single timeline.
It's certainly not for everyone though, but an additional option to have for those who want to keep socially connected whilst playing Wii U.
Nintendo could also opt to stream Nintendo Direct presentations live on the Wii U system itself, with the option for players to comment live - as they do on uStream at the moment - using Miiverse or integrated Twitter.
8. Wii U Mii and Miiverse Drawing Contests
The Mii contest channel was one of those apps that brought out some of the more creative side of Wii U players, opening up all sorts of tweaks and tricks to create some truly mind boggling Mii characters based on celebrities and fictional stars. From the late Michael Jackson to Spider-Man and Kermit the Frog, there was a range of competitions on offer for Mii creators.
It would be interesting to see a return for the Mii contest and perhaps some created on Miiverse itself, where players would be a set a challenge to draw Nintendo characters, scenes and so on - with winners perhaps offered Club Nintendo coins/stars for their efforts. Nintendo could produce a standalone app with a gallery of previous contests, currently running challenges or simply integrate these into the Miiverse software itself.
9. Everybody Votes Wii U - Miiverse Edition
Everybody Votes was one of those marmite apps on the original Wii, randomly launched shortly after the console's release to collate figures on all sorts of interesting and peculiar questions. Bus or Train, Brown or white bread, morning or night-time were some of the standard things asked to Wii players, with results broken down by gender and country.
With the Wii services coming to an end, Everybody Votes is long gone but the polling technology could make a return to Wii U, but perhaps in the way of a Miiverse integration. Instead of questioning fans on trivial things, perhaps add polls to Miiverse to get a clear idea of just what players want - whether it's for which characters to include in a game or for which Virtual Console titles to release next.
These polls could then appear in their own stand-alone app, or as a tab in Miiverse, perhaps even appearing in a widget when booting up the Wii U itself.
10. Wii U Radio / Music Streaming
Nintendo could very well tap into the online radio and music streaming services with a dedicated Wii U Radio or streaming music app, though there is a grey area with legality concerns. That said it would be interesting to have on in the background, encounter user-created radio stations and perhaps even tap into Miiverse for live commentary on a radio show and to share archived playlists.
If Nintendo were to open up the floor to other content providers like Grooveshark or Pandora, it would be beneficial to have these as standalone apps on the Wii U too, especially with a majority of players migrating to HTML 5 playback over Flash.
11. Wii U eReader AppReading books digitally is often left to dedicated tablets or eReaders, and being bound to the home or nearby area for the Wii U could make an eReader app a little redundant. However for those who want to perhaps read whilst tucked up in bed or sitting back with a nice warm cup of tea, it could be a viable option. Nintendo could even partner with providers and turn a tidy profit by selling or licensing out books through the Wii U eShop.
The GamePad screen itself is big enough to house digital text without being cramped, and screen responsive enough to allow for easy scrolling with the touch of a finger.
12. Daily Wii U Quiz / Puzzle AppThe Wii U GamePad could be the perfect companion for daily puzzles played through the touch screen - crosswords, Sudoku, spot the difference - amongst many different types that could be posted to a user's Wii U console each day. Together with Miiverse-driven leaderboards, comments and additional paid content, Nintendo could easily put together an app for puzzle-heads to enjoy.
13. Wii U NFC Manager
NFC technology has been around for some time now, and now it's been integrated into the Wii U GamePad controller itself. The technology could be used by Nintendo in conjunction with other providers for top-up services, by using secure NFC to write data to a card from a specifically designed service. For example London transport Oyster cards, phone top-ups and so on - making it convenient to add and redeem credit from NFC cards whilst at home.
14. Wii U Face ChangerNot exactly the most useful app, but with the GamePad having a front-facing camera, it could be used for some Apple Mac-styled self photography. Simply point and view a facial portrait manipulated in real time. Click the photo trigger and voila, instant photoshopped portrait without having to switch on a computer. It could even be applied to pre-existing photos - Mario, Legend of Zelda themed settings where players can simply insert their facial portraits.
Whilst not exactly ground-breaking, a Face Changer could be a neat little app for families to take snaps and share directly on Facebook/Twitter.
15. Wii U News, Weather and StocksWho can honestly say they used the Wii News and Weather apps? Whilst novel at the time, the internet has come leaps and bounds, with people able to grab news by simply accessing an interactive portion of a Smart TV or at the click of a button on a mobile phone. Having news and other information on Wii U could be redundant to most users, but again could be neat option to have displayed on the Wii U WaraWara plaza as a small, unobtrusive app that appears and updates when loading the Wii U.
If not world news, perhaps pulling updates from the Wii U eShop and showing these each time the console is turned on would make promoting key games even more direct.
16. Wii U I'm Hungry App
For the incredibly super lazy, a dedicated food app could be an interesting and convenient option for those craving something to nibble on whilst playing Nintendo Wii U. Navigating takeaway menus and ordering through the Wii U could be an option for those simply too engrossed in New Super Mario Bros. U or Nintendo Land. Nintendo could even devise a food-related mini game whilst you wait for a pizza to wing its way to your front door.
17. Wii U House Control App
We're now living in times where homes have the potential to be controlled from a mobile phone even when owners are half way across the world. By hooking up lights, heating, water, cameras and even a kettle to the online network, a Wii U House Control app could be an interesting solution to use.
It might be used to tweak the heating, check on the oven whilst away from the kitchen, even flick the switch of the kettle to avoid minimal disruption to game playing time. The app could even be used to check surveillance cameras or see how the children are in another room, all at the press of a button on the GamePad.
18. Wii U Shortcuts & FoldersWith the Nintendo 3DS having access to folders on the home-screen menu, it's odd that the Wii U setup omits the ability to organise apps into folders. These would be most welcome especially given the volume of new content coming out for Wii U on the Nintendo eShop. The ability to generate shortcuts to certain app functions, for example a particular community, browser bookmark or system setting would also be a useful time-saving measure for those wanting to keep their Wii U setup well organised.
19. Wii U WidgetsThe Wii U, like the Wii, is very much channel based, but what the Wii U has now is the ability to show something completely different on either of the screens. Having widgets that display the latest Miiverse feeds, eShop offers, Nintendo Direct videos could be useful to show as soon as the system turns on, much like the WaraWara plaza focuses on features games.
Being able to access these widgets by pressing the home button could certainly be useful mid-game, to check on Miiverse or social networks without having to necessarily launch an application, close it and return to the currently running software.