Pokemon GO players who just want to hunt down rare Pokemon have been through a lot. First, the in-game tracking mechanism went off the rails, leaving them to rely on inaccurate in-game reports and a directional tracking system that only flashed to show you the right way once, making it difficult to track down a Pokemon. From there, the tracking was removed at the same time that Niantic put the kibosh on just about every way of tracking Pokemon outside of the game. Finally, a new tracking system was recently added, although it isn't a replacement for Nearby. While some limited test markets got an awesome new tracker that shows you where a Pokemon is by displaying a picture of a nearby PokeStop, the players everywhere else got… grass.
So, what's with the grass? As it turns out, the grass tracking system is not only usable, it's a decent, if a bit more difficult, option than the three-step system that the game debuted with. The way it works is actually deceptively simple. For starters, you'll no longer be seeing Pokemon that are nearly a mile away from you. The maximum range for the new system is about 200 meters. On top of that, the tracker is updated much more often, and duplicate Pokemon are merged. This means that you'll see nine types of Pokemon near you, rather than specific appearances. This also means that Pokemon that despawn or whose area you walk away from will disappear in short order. Since the Pokemon are no longer in any specific order, going after one you want means just walking. If it disappears, double back. If it reappears, change direction. If not, you've missed it.
The new system is somewhat more realistic, but definitely far harder to use than the old one, or even the direction-based one that players were stuck with when the three-step glitch hit the game. While some players may take joy in the renewed thrill of the hunt, others will be glad to know that the grass-backed "sightings" system isn't here to stay. The new mechanism that shows you a picture of exactly where to find a Pokemon is already testing in select markets, and should roll out on a wider basis fairly soon, if early tests are any indication of how ready it is for wide use.