Yesterday, Niantic Labs announced the next step in expanding their roll-out of their newly-trialed ‘Nearby’ feature for their international phenomenon, Pokemon GO. Previously, trainers had only been able to take advantage of this new feature if they happened to reside in San Francisco, California. However, Niantic have seen fit to tentatively broaden these tests, and right now Pokemon aficionados in the rest of the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle in Washington State and parts of Arizona can all enjoy some additional tweaks to tracking Pokemon and the way Pokestops are used. These users may be getting the jump on the rest of the USA, and indeed the world, should this be deemed a permanent addition to the game.
So, how does it work? Well, your ‘Nearby Pokémon’ screen will show you not only which Pokemon are in the vicinity, but should they be close to a Pokestop, it will allow you to know which specific one. Better still, by selecting the Pokestop, a handy map will point you in the right direction. Tracking those elusive Pokemon may have just gotten a whole lot easier.
The way users track Pokemon has been changed on a number of occasions, and this latest, limited rollout once again shows Niantic paying close attention to the Pokemon GO community to actively use them in refining the game and overall user experience. Prior to striking gold with Pokemon GO, Niantic were responsible for the ground-breaking augmented-reality (AR) game Ingress which layered a game interface over real world locations, using your phone’s GPS services. Although ultimately suffering due to rife cheating by location-spoofing users, Ingress laid the groundwork and acted as a proof of concept for how to effectively incorporate AR into mobile games. Thankfully, due to the explosive success of Pokemon GO, Niantic now seem to have the budget and resources to refine and adapt the AR user experience, and by employing locally-selected beta testers, crowd-sourcing appears to be the way they are doing it. These latest changes suggest that Niantic are refusing to rest on their laurels and instead see plenty of room left for improvement in terms of the game's interface.
Based on the feedback following this new update, Niantic say they will “make changes if necessary, and roll this feature out to more regions.” Happy hunting, trainers.