The creators of Pokémon Go are testing a big, awesome way to find nearby Pokémon

It looks like Niantic, the company behind the smash-hit smartphone sensation Pokémon Go, is working on a big, huge upgrade to the way you find nearby Pokémon, finally fixing a big frustration for players.

In the release notes for the newest Pokémon Go app update for Android and iPhone, Niantic teased that “we’re currently testing a variation of the ‘Nearby Pokémon’ feature with a subset of users.”

The news comes not a moment too late: Pokémon Go players have been up in arms since Niantic removed the game’s first version of the Nearby
Pokémon feature, following a two-week-plus period where it simply didn’t work at all.

Right now, it seems like different players are seeing different things. As Kotaku reports, it looks like most players are seeing a new “Sightings” menu, which merely shows you which Pokémon are nearby, though it’s also said to be more responsive and accurate than the old version.

Me, personally, I’m seeing something else. And the upgraded Pokémon tracking system I’m seeing is cooler and way more potentially useful than either the very first system, or the one that Kotaku is seeing.

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 disperse in-game equipment to players as they pass by — giving me a huge hint as to where it is:

If I click on one, it pulls up a map, guiding me to the general area where that Pokémon can be found:

So without telling you exactly where a Pokémon is, it gives you a big, huge 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. I’m not totally sure what the pawprints mean in this context, but I’m assuming they show distance between you and the Pokémon.

Why am I seeing this when other players aren’t? Hard to say. But it sounds like Niantic is testing a few ideas among different groups of users. Personally, though I haven’t really taken this new method for a real-world spin, it seems like a very cool idea — hopefully, when Niantic is ready to roll it out for real to everyone, it will look like this.

In the meanwhile, the fact that Niantic is working on a fix for Nearby should go some ways towards repairing the developer’s trust with the hardcore Pokémon Go-playing community, who were left cold when the removal of the Pokémon tracking feature coincided with the shutdown of popular cheating sites that mapped the monsters.

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