The Pokemon GO Plus device is now out and available, and with the new features we’ve discovered, it looks like it’s not as useless as it was first made out to be.
When Pokemon GO launched in July, we were told that an accompanying device, the Pokemon GO Plus, was going to be released sometime soon. Now, this is coming to reality with thousands of Pokemon GO Plus devices getting shipped and being available in stores.
But the Pokemon GO Plus was met with much skepticism even before its release. From a gameplay perspective, dedicated Pokemon GO fans just speculated that the Pokemon GO Plus’ delayed release was because it was a useless peripheral to an otherwise perfectly working game.
Before Pokemon GO Plus released this week, Forbes listed three key pieces of information about the Pokemon GO Plus. This information was corroborated on Reddit based on statements and information made available by Niantic to the public.
- Nowhere, at any time, has Nintendo ever claimed that Pokemon GO Plus has any sort of pedometer or distance tracking capabilities that will allow you to hatch eggs (and now train Pokemon with the buddy system) while the game is closed. Pokemon GO tracks distance using GPS, not a pedometer anyway, and it seems incredibly unlikely that Nintendo’s $35 peripheral would even be able to have that capability to track GPS data and transfer it to a closed app on your dormant phone. So, for the two most important “mobility” aspects of the game, it’s useless.
- From the description, it seems likely that Pokemon GO Plus does not effectively operate as a battery saver either. It lets players catch Pokemon and spin PokeStops when the game buzzes, but here’s the important bit buried in the description, “When the smart phone with Pokemon Go and the paired Pokemon GO Plus accessory are within range of each other, both will begin to vibrate when a Pokemon is close by.” As players know, the game only buzzes when the app is open and in the foreground, meaning that it seems likely that Pokemon GO Plus only works when the app is open as well, making it useless as a battery saver. The only thing it does is to allow you to not take your phone out of your pocket.
- The worst new discovery is this line, which talks about catching Pokemon in the wild, “You’ll only be able to throw a PokeBall using Pokemon GO Plus if you’ve caught the Pokemon before.” For reasons that remain unexplained, at least according to this current description of the product, you will not be able to catch Pokemon you haven’t caught yet, which of course, is half the point of hunting Pokemon in the wild. That seems to mean that you would have to manually check your phone anyway to see/catch anything new that might appear in the wild, given that your Pokemon GO Plus either won’t buzz or won’t be able to catch a new Pokemon that might appear near you.
The Pokémon GO Plus can track distance walked for Eggs and Buddy Pokémon. #PokemonGO
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) September 17, 2016
The Pokémon GO Plus will blink yellow if you encounter a Pokémon that is not currently registered in your Pokédex. #PokemonGO
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) September 17, 2016
These three things made Pokemon Go users extremely frustrated with the Pokemon GO Plus. But as Pokemon GO Plus released this week, we were pleasantly surprised that it came with features that we didn’t expect it coming with.
Pokemon GO Plus does track distance after all. A few days before the release, a few units were leaked and Forbes reported that these units were able to track distance and hatch eggs. After Forbes reached out to three PR reps and with this key information still not included in official product description, it’s only about time that Niantic announces this information through its Twitter page.
Business Insider also confirmed that unlike the prior information about the Pokemon GO Plus not working with Pokemon GO not open, the Pokemon GO Plus actually works even though the app is only running in the background. This means that you can hatch eggs and walk your buddy Pokemon even with your phone locked and the app only running as a background app.
my mom: i want an apple watch
me: it looks dumb
pokemon: pokemon go accessory with wristband
me: IT LOOKS SO COOL pic.twitter.com/hmIZ380h9N
— DEVOLA • (@sidoxn) September 10, 2015
Another welcomed surprise is that Pokemon GO Plus could actually let you catch Pokemon you haven’t caught before, unlike its previous statement. The Pokemon GO Plus has a special functionality that when you run into a Pokemon you haven’t encountered before, the light will flash yellow instead of green. This prompts you that the Pokemon you’re encountering is a new one. This then gives you the option to bring out your phone and let you manually catch it with better balls or use berries, rather than gambling on one regular PokeBall to catch it.
Niantic has also confirmed this feature just recently via Twitter.
With these two new surprise features of the Pokemon GO Plus, and with pre-orders and stocks sold out, it looks like the Pokemon GO Plus could turn out to be a better seller than we thought it would be.