It’s been about a week since Pokémon Go’s tracker — the tool that guides players towards hidden Pokémon — has worked as intended.
The tracker sits in the lower-right corner of your screen and shows you which Pokémon are in your immediate area.
When a Pokémon is far away, it shows three little paw prints. As you get closer, it goes down to two paw prints, then one, then the prints disappear and the Pokémon will appear on your map.
It’s like a hot-or-cold game. At least, that’s how it works ideally.
For the last several days, for reasons unknown, it’s been showing three paw prints no matter how near or far you are from a Pokémon. It’s been frustrating a lot of players:
The rumour on the street is that Niantic, the developer of Pokémon Go, purposely turned off the tracker to ease the strain on the servers, which have been unreliable since the game’s launch just over two weeks ago. Regardless of the reason, players are getting annoyed.
But Nick Johnson, the Pokémon Go master who recently became the first to capture all 142 monsters currently available in the United States, says he used a very clever workaround to find and catch ’em all. Plus, here’s a bonus method that Johnson didn’t use, but that could work for you.
Before Niantic made Pokémon Go, they were best known as the creators of Ingress, a similar kind of map-based real-world game, but with more of a science-fictional bent.
Not only is Ingress still up and running on both iPhone and Android, but players like Johnson find it to be an indispensable tool for Pokémon hunting, since Niantic brought a ton of data from the older game to the new.
This is Ingress:
See the white dots on the screen? In Ingress, that’s called “exotic matter,” or “XM,” and it’s the key to the whole affair. Players like Johnson have noted that areas where the XM dots are concentrated in Ingress also have a very high correlation with where Pokémon pop up.
So if you’re having trouble finding a Pokémon that’s showing up on your tracker, and you’re really dedicated, you can switch over to Ingress, find an area with a high concentration of XM, and walk towards it. Once you’re over it, switch back to Pokémon Go, and a Pokémon should appear.
“I found more than a few rare ones by spotting them on radar, then ignoring the radar and using the Ingress in-game map to navigate to those hotspots,” Johnson told Business Insider. “May not work 100% but definitely helped me.”
This comes with a massive caveat: Pokémon Go draws a lot of battery, and so does Ingress, so tread with caution or carry an external battery pack on your Pokémon hunts.
There’s a second option, not used by Johnson, but loved by plenty of others. It’s called PokéVision, and it will show you all the Pokémon currently around any address you plug into it.
Here’s Central Park’s Grand Army Plaza, as viewed through PokéVision:
Dang, that’s a lot of Pokémon. No wonder Grand Army Plaza has become such a hotspot for Pokémon hunters.
The timer you see below each Pokémon shows how long they will be at that particular spot. If you make it to their precise location before the timer expires, you’re all but guaranteed to find that Pokémon.
In a brief excursion to test PokéVision, it wasn’t 100% reliable: I tore out my front door and jogged a few blocks to succesfully capture a Gastly that PokéVision had spotted before time ran out, but I wasn’t quite able to locate an Eevee that it assured me was close. And at one point, I caught a Squirtle that PokéVision had completely failed to mark on the map at all.
This might feel like cheating to you, so use it at your own discretion. Also, it uses data taken straight from Niantic, so it seems possible that they could change something and turn off PokéVision’s access. So enjoy it as much as you can, for as long as you can.
In the meanwhile, we’re still waiting for word on when Pokémon Go’s radar glitch will get fixed. So if you don’t want to stop your hunt, you have some options.
On a final note, Johnson says that a good idea is to pay close attention to your fellow players. If you’re out hunting, and it looks like the crowd is about to stampede in one direction, it’s probably time to stop what you’re doing and open your map.
“The stampeding horde was also an awesome form of real-life push notification at Grand Army Plaza,” Johnson jokes. “I caught a few things just by following the crowd or hearing other people shout out that it had spawned.”