Remember the awesome footstep tracking mechanism in Pokemon Go that worked perfectly in the first few days of the game, directing you to where the Pokemon were? Yeah, that’s gone. Niantic’s first update to the wildly popular Augmented Reality game has actually removed the most crucial feature from it, rather than fixing the system. The footstep tracking mechanism was used within the Nearby panel to show Pokemon that were around you. Those with one footstep underneath the avatar were nearest to you, sequentially rising to three footsteps for the farthest one.
A few weeks into the game, amid multiple server failures, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack claims and multiple glitches later, the footstep mechanism appeared to end up with a glitch where all Pokemon on the Nearby list would show as three footsteps away. This essentially rendered ways of tracking Pokemon nearly useless. While the removal of this feature does not practically worsen the situation, everyone expected Niantic to solve the glitch and has now been left severely disappointed. After all, tracking Pokemon effectively is the most crucial aspect of a game that centers around tracking and catching Pokemon.
Left: The updated version; Right: When the footstep tracker still worked
This has left thousands of players clueless about looking for Pokemon in their vicinity. Alongside removing footsteps, Niantic and Nintendo have also shut down a number of third party Pokemon-tracking services like Pokevision and Pokeradar, stating that these essentially depended on hacks, and people playing the game were gaining ways to cheat. This comes as a double blow for players, as now there is actually no way to trace a Pokemon, apart from walking around aimlessly and depending on luck.
Alongside, the latest update has seemingly removed the battery saver mode, too. While this mode did not have a massive impact on improving battery life, it did significantly improve the battery life by reducing a device’s screen-on time. There were many reported glitches of devices refusing to wake from battery saver modes, and once again, Niantic appears to have removed the feature altogether, although Android devices in India seems to have retained it.
Left: The new medals and the user customisation menu; Right: The old, basic medals
The update has brought slightly updated fonts, the ability to change your own avatar, redesigned medals and a redesigned panel that fuses ‘Favourite’ and ‘Transfer’ of Pokemon into one slide-out panel. Selecting a Pokemon as Favourite now will ensure that it cannot be transferred, hence saving you from unintentional mistakes. The minor redesigns may work in the long term, but for now, the major cause of concern remains the lacking of tracking abilities in Pokemon Go. We can only hope that Niantic is presently working on perfecting it, and it will be back into the game to retain its engaging nature.
Left: New warning signs before initiation; Right: Recustomising your avatar
The update incidentally comes over the weekend preceding August 1, the date on which Poodlecorp, an apparent group of hackers, had proclaimed a DDoS attack on Niantic’s servers to black the game out for 20 hours, or nearly the entire day. When asked for the reason behind the malicious intent, the hacker group replied, “We do it because we can, nobody can stop us and we just like to cause chaos.” The day is already here, and it remains to be seen if there are indeed any impact that falls on Niantic’s servers.
The latest update, meanwhile, may have disappointed more players for now, than a 20-hour lockout from the game will.