Pokemon GO update: Nearby feature returning soon?

Posted by Nick Tylwalk on August 8th, 2016
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It's hard to remember one aspect of a popular mobile game that's caused as much hand-wringing as the 'Nearby' tab in Pokemon GO. Just in case you're one of the (very) few people who hasn't played the game or followed its coverage, the tab was supposed to offer a way for players to have an easy reference for which Pokemon were nearby and approximately how far away they were.

The phrase "supposed to" is the key there. It never functioned as intended thanks to what gamers dubbed the "three-step glitch," causing all the Pokemon to appear as if they were an equal distance from the player. Instead of fixing it, Niantic deactivated the feature altogether in one of the game's first updates, causing a predictable overreaction from some of the more passionate Pokemon GO enthusiasts.

The thing is, they had a bit of a point, in the sense that when paired with Niantic cutting off support for third-party tracking apps, gamers were left without a way to even know which Pokemon were around, much less hunt them down. The latest Pokemon GO update doesn't offer a fix, but it does provide a roadmap for how the developers might proceed.

Sightings is the new Nearby

Well, for this writer anyway. The update notes say that, "We're currently testing a variation of the 'Nearby Pokemon' feature with a subset of users. During this period, you may see some variation in the nearby Pokemon UI.

That's exactly what I found when I first logged in after the update. As you can see in the image above, it shows pictures of Pokemon, and ... grass? It's unclear whether that is supposed to be a hint as to where the Pokemon might be hiding. So far, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Also, you apparently won't see more than one of the same type of Pokemon. So there's that.

Get the curveball across the plate

It wasn't necessarily intuitive, but the developers really wanted people to be able to throw curves when tossing Pokeballs instead of hurling them straight ahead. Unfortunately, that mostly only made capturing Pokemon harder.

No longer, as Niantic has assured us that it has improved the accuracy of curveballs. Now paint those corners! That was a baseball joke.

Battery saver mode returns

I feel confident in saying that no iOS app has ever drained a phone's battery quite like Pokemon GO. Ever.

The battery saver mode helped a little, but it was buggy on iPhone, and Niantic took it away. Now it's back, and it apparently works correctly now.

Everything else

Here's a list of the other things that arrived in the update:

  • If you're driving in a car while playing Pokemon GO, you now need to reassure the game you're not doing that.
  • Good throws now grant the proper experience bonuses.
  • Medal icons for achievements that weren't displaying correctly have been fixed.
  • Everyone can change their nickname one time.
  • Visuals of the team leaders were added.

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