Play Real-World Pokemon Snap With Pokemon GO's AR Photo Mode

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A big part of Pokemon GO’s core fan base probably grew up playing Pokemon Snap on the Nintendo 64, and now they can relive those days by photographing Pokemon in the real world with the new Photo Mode in Pokemon GO. The new mode works in a similar manner to the AR+ feature for catching Pokemon, and allows you to take any Pokemon you own and throw their Pokeball out into the real world. You can even share your photos under #GOsnapshot to get Niantic’s attention.

The update is on a slow rollout, so you may not have it just yet. If you do, you’ll be able to use the Camera in your Items menu, or you can get to it by tapping on a Pokemon that you own. From there, aim the camera and tap the screen to throw the Pokeball. Your Pokemon will appear at realistic scale right in front you.

When your Pokemon is out in the world, you can get as close to them as you like, photograph them from any angle, and even interact with them. Brushing a finger over them, for example, will get their attention and make them look at you for the photo.


Google’s ARCore technology is behind this magic, so if your phone isn’t compatible, you won’t be able to use Photo Mode. Most modern flagship phones, thankfully, can use ARCore. As a rule of thumb, if you can use similar AR tools and features in other games, such as the AR demon viewer in Shin Megami Tensei Dx2, you can probably use this feature.

Before this update, Pokemon GO made use of ARCore with its fairly recent AR+ Pokemon catching mode. For those that haven’t gotten to check it out yet, it’s an enhanced catching mode that plays to Pokemon GO’s battle-free captures. Rather than fighting a Pokemon to weaken it, you’ll use AR to project bushes into the real world to flush it out of. From there, you’ll decide on your angle of approach, go in nice and slow, and decide where and when to throw the Pokeball that finishes the job.

ARCore is available to all game developers, so expect to see this feature start to gain traction now that it’s been put into one of the most popular mobile games around. Pokemon GO seems to be serving as a playground of sorts for ARCore, and it’s working exceedingly well.

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It should go without saying that this won’t be happening overnight. It takes time to implement a feature like this, so if other games are going to copycat Pokemon GO and roll out their own photo modes, it’s going to be a while before the new feature surfaces.

On a similar note, as Pokemon GO demonstrates more use cases for ARCore, more games are bound to adopt the technology. There are already many demonstrated use cases for ARCore technology out there, and developers are only really limited by their imaginations in this regard. AR shooting games are one example of a game type that could be improved by ARCore.