Niantic Ships Pokemon GO Buddy, Ninja Update

Niantic Ships out new Pokemon GO Updates

Niantic has been showing Pokemon GO a lot of love since its release a few months ago. The biggest things added are the new Buddy Pokemon system and support for the Pokemon Go Plus device, which will allow you for to play the game without requiring you to pull out your phone to use it. In addition, Niantic shipped out a “ninja update” to help improve the quality of the game.

The Buddy System

The Buddy System will now allow for a player to earn candy for a specific pokemon by use of a “distance benchmark,” which is how far a player is required to walk in order to earn one piece of candy for that specific Pokemon. For example, if you want to dedicate your Pikachu as your buddy, every 1 mile walked will yield one rare candy. Dependent on the rarity of your Pokemon, you may be required to walk more of a distance or even less of a distance – obviously, it starts with rather common Pokemon (like Pidgey or Rattata) requiring you to walk less than a mile to obtain one candy. In addition, your buddy shows up in your profile screen, typically hanging out by your character’s side or even chilling on your character’s shoulder.

2There is also a stats screen that will show you your Buddy’s stats, and the number of candies both received and used by the Pokemon. This can be found by going to your trainer profile again, and tapping on your Pokemon Buddy.

You can assign a buddy in Pokemon GO by tapping a photo of your trainer avatar, selecting the Buddy option, then choosing a pokemon from any of your active collection to accompany you. That’s it – start walking and accumulating rare candy! It should go without saying that only one Pokemon can be your buddy at a time, as well. Should you choose to swap out your buddy as you are progressing towards your next rare candy, you will lose all progress, as well. This also includes evolutions – make sure to hold off on the evolution of a Pokemon until you receive its candy!

The Buddy system is a fantastic way for players to catch up on Pokemon that they have not trained, so it is recommended to set your Buddy as a low-powered Pokemon that you may not often use. Unfortunately, the application only counts tracking towards your Buddy’s goal if the application is open, which will quickly drain your battery – make sure that the screen stays on.

Ninja Update

Only a few days ago, Niantic shipped out a small update in the dead of night. The largest thing to note is that Pokemon GO will no longer run on unsupported operating systems, which can be bad news to those of you that have rooted or jailbroken your phone. This is primarily to crack down on the use of bots, cheats, hacks, and location spoofing by malicious users.

Niantic also included a much more accurate tracking system for eggs, as well – now, eggs will round up to the thousandths place, instead of simply offering a week tenths estimation (12.171 vs 12.4, for example.) Niantic has said that the new system “offers a 15 to 20% improvement in tracked distance,” and the loss of a GPS signal will no longer cause the application to stop tracking the distance walked.

Pokemon GO Plus

The GO Plus
The GO Plus

The final, and biggest thing, to note is the introduction of the $35 Pokemon GO Plus accessory. This device connects to either your iPhone or Android device by the use of bluetooth, and is a teardrop-shaped piece that is reminiscent of a Pokeball in its design. The device primarily communicates with a light or vibration; when a Pokemon or PokeStop is nearby, the device will glow a dependent color and vibrate

The Pokemon GO Plus accessory includes a clip on the back, allowing for the user to attach it to their belt, backpack, or lanyard bracelet (included with purchase). However, the most important thing to note is that it should be in a place where it is easily accessible. When the player approaches a Pokemon that he or she has previously caught, it will dimly pulse green. When the player approaches a new Pokemon, it will flash a rapid yellow. When a player approaches a Pokemon, it will glow blue until you are out of its range.

Unfortunately, the design of the Pokemon GO Plus requires the user to unscrew the back of the casing if they want to remove the clip and install the bracelet holder instead. This requires the use of a tiny Philips-head screwdriver, and a very steady hand – this seems like a design oversight, and will hopefully be remedied in future iterations of the Pokemon GO Plus.

To attempt to catch the Pokemon or receive an item from a PokeStop, simply press the LED button. If you are successful in receiving the item or Pokemon, the light will flash a series of rapid colors; otherwise, failure will result in three red flashes. Unfortunately, the Pokemon GO Plus is limited in that you are limited to just one catch attempt, and you cannot dedicate a specific type of PokeBall to catching Pokemon; you will always use the default PokeBalls.

In addition to the new release of the Pokemon GO Plus accessory, Apple (yes, the computer company) has announced that the Apple Watch will be the first ever smartwatch to be compatible with Pokemon GO. There will be more on that later as Apple announces details and demonstrates how exactly the game will work on a smaller screen, but it should be very reminiscent of the Pokemon GO Plus.