Nintendo's first iOS app, Miitomo, launching in US on Thursday

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Following a successful launch in Japan, Nintendo's first smartphone-only app — Miitomo — will come to Apple's iOS App Store in U.S. and several other countries this Thursday, March 31.

Instead of a game, Miitomo is a "social experience" in which users create their own "Mii" avatar, or import an existing Mii from a Wii U or 3DS by way of a QR code. People can add friends they meet in person, or link with contacts from Facebook or Twitter.

The app then asks users various fun questions meant to spark conversations. Friends overhearing how each other answer can respond with a "heart," a picture, or a typed comment.

Miitomo will be available for iOS and Android as a "free-to-start" title, though Nintendo didn't say what might later cost money. The company is however asking people to sign up for a Nintendo Account at before Thursday to accrue bonus Platinum Points for the My Nintendo rewards program, launching simultaneously. Platinum Points, and the Gold Points earned by buying games from Nintendo, will be redeemable for downloadable content, eShop coupons, or full games.

Nintendo is planning to release five smartphone apps by the end of March 2017, built in collaboration with developer DeNA. The company is gradually trying to expand beyond its core business in console and handheld gaming systems, particularly since smartphones and tablets are replacing dedicated handhelds for many people.