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Nintendo's 'Miitomo' coming to iOS in March, pre-registration starts Feb. 17

Nintendo's first smartphone-only app, Miitomo, will launch sometime next month for iOS and Android, with a pre-registration process beginning on Feb. 17, the Japanese game maker announced on Wednesday.

Starting that day people will be able to register for a new Nintendo Account service using email, a social network account, or an existing Nintendo Network ID. Doing so will earn early notification of Miitomo's availability, as well as a special unspecified bonus.

Rather than a true game, Miitomofirst teased in October — will actually be a "social experience" based on the Mii avatars featured on Nintendo devices. Users will be prompted to learn more about each other by asking and answering questions. The app should also support sharing photos of Miis, and connecting with a My Nintendo rewards program launching at the same time.

Nintendo is planning to launch five smartphone apps by the end of March 2017. The second of these is still mostly in the shadows, but shouldn't be communications app, and will feature a familiar (though still undisclosed) character.

Nintendo's new mobile efforts are the result of a partnership with developer DeNA, struck in March 2015. The company has been forced to adapt to a rapidly evolving gaming world, as its Wii U console has struggled in sales, and handhelds like the 3DS are being supplanted by phones and tablets for many people. Indeed rumors suggest the company's next console, commonly referred to as the NX, will try to bridge the gap between the mobile and console environments.