Back in August, Pokémon Go developer Niantic started testing a big, awesome upgrade to the “Nearby” tracker, which tells you which monsters are in your vicinity.
The upgraded tracker is a lot more useful and way more fun than the first versions — instead of making you stumble around randomly in hopes of finding the right monster, probably the most frustrating part of the game, the new system gently guides you in the right direction.
The problem was that this great feature was limited to Pokémon Go players in San Francisco.
Well, no longer. Over the weekend, Niantic announced that the new tracker is coming to players “in parts of Arizona, the Seattle area of Washington state, and the rest of the San Francisco Bay area,” as the company continues to test the feature and look at expanding it elsewhere.
Here’s how it works
When I pull up my tracker, first I see this. The changes are immediately apparent: It lists a bunch of Pokémon next to a picture of a nearby PokéStop — the real-world locations that dispense in-game equipment to players as they pass by — giving me a huge hint as to where it is:
If you click on one, it pulls up a map, guiding me to the general area where that Pokémon can be found:
Then, when you go back to playing, it puts a marker on your map to guide you to the right area to find the Pokémon you selected:
So without telling you exactly where a Pokémon is, it gives you a big hint. Using the PokéStop as a marker is a good general guide, and the little circle here gives you an idea of where to search. The pawprints tell you the distance between you and the Pokémon you’re after.
It’s still a bummer that the new tracker isn’t open to everyone. But this is a big step in the right direction, as Niantic works hard to fix players’ big problems with the game and keep them playing for a long time to come.