Update prepares for Pokémon Go Plus pedometer accessory and adds another way to earn candy – but stops just short of being a virtual pet
Ever wanted to take a walk with your favourite Charmander, Jigglypuff or Pikachu? Pokémon Go’s latest update will allow trainers to take their virtual pets out on the road as they play.
The Buddy Pokémon option, unveiled by developer Niantic, is the first major addition to the game that became a global phenomenon in its first months of release. It allows players to select one particular monster to metaphorically walk alongside them as they explore the real world and in doing so, earn evolution candy for each step taken.
Niantic said picking your favourite Pokémon to become your buddy would open up unique in-game rewards and experiences. “Buddy Pokémon will appear alongside your trainer avatar on your profile screen, adding helpful bonuses such as awarding candy for walking together. You’ll also have the ability to change your buddy Pokémon at any time.”
The only indication that your Pikachu is your best buddy is that it’ll be displayed on your trainer’s avatar page. Your chosen buddy isn’t visible on the in-game map, which will disappoint fans seeing that this is a way to turn Pokémon further into virtual pets.
The update also blocks the use of so-called “rooted” Android devices, in an effort to stop cheating, and adds support for the Pokémon Go Plus accessory: a clip-on pedometer that counts steps and alerts users when Pokémon are nearby without the player having to have their smartphone open and active.
Following Niantic chief executive John Hanke’s announcement that Pokémon Go is going to work on the Apple Watch from the stage during Apple’s iPhone 7, some experts have wondered what the point of the Pokémon Go Plus accessory is. Part of the code of the latest Android app could also suggest that a similar app to that in development for the Apple Watch may also come to Android Wear smartwatches, according to fansite Go Hub.
With walking a fundamental part of the game, crucial to hatching eggs and discovering new Pokémon, Hanke said that Pokémon Go players had walked a total of 4.6bn kilometres. The game had been downloaded over 100m times by the end of July, according to app analytics firm App Annie.