Pokemon GO developer Niantic has announced that the game will give players the option to track steps and meet goals both in and out of the game via a new feature called Adventure Sync, integrated with both Google Fit and Apple HealthKit. The feature is strictly opt-in, and simply links up to the apps in question in order to pull step data, then reward players with incentives aimed at both casual and more active Pokemon trainers. In addition, you can use the feature to incubate Pokemon eggs and earn candy for your current Buddy Pokemon without having to have the app up and using extra battery for your screen and GPS being on. The feature will also give you notifications when you've hit certain goals, helping to provide motivation to get back into the game, or reminders for those who often venture out and would otherwise be playing Pokemon GO except that they forget to launch the app.
Background: Part of the appeal of Pokemon GO, from the very beginning, has been giving players motivation to go out and explore the world around them, as well as to become more active on a regular basis. This new feature plays to both of those goals, which have become big strengths of the game over time. Now, players who aren't terribly concerned with catching 'em all or raising the strongest Pokemon to dominate gyms can play in a more calm and casual way while burning up less battery power, and while being less distracted from the very surroundings that the game pushes them to explore. That's not to say that Adventure Sync doesn't benefit hardcore Pokemon GO players just as much; Adventure Sync rewards are entirely separate from other in-game incentives, and will be awarded to players who walk around with the game on as well as those who prefer to keep it off and save battery life.
Impact: Niantic is making an already very accessible game even easier to get into, and that move will almost certainly expand the game's total audience in a big way. Since Google Fit and Apple HealthKit use phones' onboard sensors for step tracking and approximate distance traveled, those who may live in areas with sparse GPS availability or bad mobile signal no longer have to feel left out. This also provides another avenue toward becoming a bona fide Pokemon Master for players who may live in more rural areas that aren't exactly rife with Pokestops. Niantic hasn't announced just what kinds of rewards will be tied to the Adventure Sync system, but it's logical to assume that these rewards will range from trivial to major, just like the rewards for field research. The new system could also end up used in quests and in-game events, giving Niantic the chance to help players access in-game elements and rewards that they otherwise would have been all but forced to do without. Likewise, this new system will reward players who do a lot of moving around during times that they can't play Pokemon GO, such as walking around an office or job site, running for exercise, or otherwise doing something where they're moving, but need to be aware of the world around them or simply can't be on their phones playing games.