Pokemon GO update - Fix the tracking already, Niantic!

By , on August 9, 2016

Niantic has released another update for Pokemon GO, but it still doesn't seem to have fixed the main problem with the free-to-play smash hit - tracking.

Pokemon GO has been a runaway hit, racking up $200 million for Niantic in just a month. Which is pretty good going when you consider it's been broken from day one.

Now, we're not the kind of people to rant and rave over the perceived flaws and missing features of a free-to-play mobile game - particularly when that game has brought us many hours of pleasure.

But the fact that a core component of Pokemon GO is fundamentally non-operational so long after the game's release leaves us rubbing our heads like a Psyduck.

Pokemon GO shipped with a 'nearby' tracking feature that was supposed to tell you how close a Pokemon was according to a three-stage 'footprint' gauge. This never really seemed to work properly, but Niantic's response was to pull it entirely rather than to fix it.

Pokemon GO

Now Niantic seems to have addressed the tracking issues in the latest update - version 1.3.0 on iOS (pictured above) and version 0.33.0 on Android. Here's the full changelog for the update:

  • Added a dialog to remind Trainers that they should not play while traveling above a certain speed. Trainers must confirm they are not driving in order to continue playing
  • Made improvements to the accuracy of a curveball throw
  • Fixed a bug that prevented ”Nice,” ”Great,” and “Excellent” Poké Ball throws from awarding the appropriate experience bonuses
  • Fixed achievements showing incorrect Medal icons
  • Enabled the ability for Trainers to change their nickname one time, so please choose your new nickname wisely
  • Resolved issues with the battery saver mode and re-enabled this feature
  • Added visuals of Team leaders - Candela, Blanche and Spark
  • 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.
  • Minor text fixes

It's that penultimate point that we're talking about here. Sure enough, some Pokemon GO players have reported that there's a new 'Nearby Pokemon' screen following the update, which shows Pokemon that are close to individual local Pokestops.

There are two glaring issues with this update that we can see. Firstly, it hasn't made its way out to the vast majority of people. According to some reports, in fact, only players in the San Franciso area have gained access to the new tracking feature, which is a truly tiny proportion of Pokemon GO players.

Secondly, even for such ones who do have the full update, the new tracking feature doesn't take into account the many Pokemon that aren't tied to a Pokestop at all. By limiting tracking information to the established Pokestops, it kind of goes against the spirit of exploration and of heading into new territory to search for fresh beasties that drew many to the game in the first place.

We're glad Niantic is working on Pokemon GO's tracking issue. But we're not entirely convinced about the direction it's taking - or the length of time it's taking to figure things out.