‘Pokemon GO’ Testing New Tracking Feature: Here’s How It Works

Pokemon Go

When Niantic Labs released the latest update to Pokemon GO on Android and iOS devices, it also kicked off a test of the new in-game tracker. The new Sightings functionality is currently being tested in San Francisco, and some lucky players have shared their findings of the new feature on Reddit and Twitter.

Nearby Vs. Sightings

Pokemon GO’s in-game tracker now has two divided sections labeled Nearby and Sightings. The latter is what most players around the world are currently seeing in the game since the recent update. It shows Pokemon that appear in-game in a range of approximately 200 meters with a grassy backdrop.

Pokemon Go New Nearby Tracker

The new Nearby feature is being tested in downtown San Francisco near the Niantic headquarters. Pokemon that fall under this section have the image of a nearby PokeStop used as its backdrop, as reported by Reddit user will650 in the SilpRoad forum. The new feature actually uses PokeStops as independent radars that automatically scan for Pokemon that spawn naturally around the stop. Pokemon attracted by Lures are not shown in the tracker, however.

How Nearby Works

Clicking on one of the Pokemon in the Nearby section will bring up an enlarged view of the creature and the PokeStop’s image with the option to click a View button. Clicking the button displays an expanded overhead map that uses a pink circle icon with footsteps to mark the location of the selected Pokemon on the map. This icon will still be displayed when going from the overhead map back to the normal map view when moving around in Pokemon GO.

Pokemon Go New Nearby Tracker

Players will simply need to journey to the marked location to get a chance to capture the selected Pokemon. If the creature despawns before the player is able to reach the destination, Pokemon GO will display a notification that the Pokemon has fled, and it will be removed from the Nearby tracker.

Here is a video posted by Jackson Palmer via Twitter showing how the Nearby tracker works.

How Sightings Work

The grassy backdrop for the Pokemon indicates that the creature is out in the wild and not near a PokeStop. Multiple sightings of the same Pokemon are now condensed under a single icon. For example, three nearby Pidgies will be displayed as only one in the Sightings box.

The Sightings scanner searches the surrounding area for Pokemon approximately every 10 seconds with a range of around 200 meters. Any new Pokemon that have spawned will, in that timeframe, appear, and any that despawned will be removed.

Currently, nothing happens when players attempt to select a Pokemon in the Sightings tracker. It seems likely Niantic Labs will add functionality to the Sightings tracker, but it is unknown what direction the studio will go in. Players will need to walk around and either stumble on the Pokémon or attempt to triangulate its position based on their location when it appears or disappears in the tracker.

New Updates

Niantic Labs is updating Pokemon GO approximately once every week to two weeks.

The current iOS patch notes read, “We’re currently testing a variation of the ‘Nearby Pokémon’ feature with a subset of users. During this period you may see some variation in the nearby Pokémon UI.”

The developer caused a stir in the community when it first disabled in-game tracking by removing the footsteps to show the distance to Pokemon in the tracker. CEO John Henke stated the studio was unhappy with the original design and thought it was confusing to users. The new Nearby feature does work for those who live near a wealth of PokeStops. We’ll have to see what solution the studio has in mind for those that live in more sparsely populated areas.

[Photo by Alan Diaz/AP Images]