Pokemon GO Update Disables Game In Moving Vehicles

The Pokemon GO augmented reality game started to be released across the world in the summer, and soon the streets of those supported countries were filled with players stumbling around real world locations trying to "catch them all." For the uninitiated, Pokemon GO revolves around moving to a real world location in search of a Pokemon monster. When the player gets close enough to the monster, the application activates the device camera and superimposes the said monster on the screen. Players must then catch the monster by flicking a virtual Pokemon ball at the creature. Once captured, monsters may be evolved and trained to become more powerful examples of their species. And the point of evolving and training monsters is so that players can defeat other players' monsters in battles.

Pokemon GO is credited with getting huge numbers of people outside and walking, as the only way to achieve certain things in the game is to travel a distance. The game quickly spread in popularity and caused Niantic to famously call Google to ask for additional server resource during the rollout period. Early adopters also saw a small number of outages as hackers sought to deliver their message to the world by disrupting the game servers. The market for rechargeable smartphone chargers rocketed almost overnight, as Pokemon GO uses the device's location services, which are a notorious battery hog. We've since seen manufacturers release a number of third party accessories for smartphones that can take some of the load off the device.

The game is optimized for walking but some players quickly realized that they could travel a distance through driving. Niantic, the Pokemon GO developer, asked players to confirm that they were not in control of a moving vehicle but it seems too many drivers lied and said that they weren't driving, when they really were. This has had tragic consequences, resulting in a fatality in Japan and now Niantic has updated and evolved the game - when in a moving vehicle over 30 mph, all Pokemon GO monsters are hidden. There are no opt-outs to claim that one is a passenger rather than controlled the vehicle. With various technologies being introduced to detect is a 'phone is being used whilst driving in the event of a collision, Niantic's measure is preemptive and whilst it might seem draconian to passengers, or perhaps to "it'll never happen to me" drivers, it is the socially responsible route to take.

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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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