After removing its buggy Pokémon tracking system in a recent update, Pokémon Go developer Niantic confirmed that it was testing a new “nearby Pokémon” feature. The new update doesn’t state what the new tracker will look like (presumably as Niantic hasn’t settled on a final design just yet) but some lucky few have already got their hands on a test version.
“We’re currently testing a variation of the “Nearby Pokémon” feature with a subset of users,” Niantic wrote in a Facebook post. “During this period you may see some variation in the nearby Pokémon UI.” Beyond the tracker, the update gives players the option to change their name once, added the new team leader images, and introduced extra safety dialogs.
Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer got early access to the feature, and uploaded footage of how the new tracker currently works. The screen shows nearby Pokémon, along with a picture of their nearest Pokéstop. Touching a listed creature calls up a bird’s eye view of where the Pokémon is in relation to your current location, placing a pink marker over its location back in the main game interface.
The update is a welcome response for fans, who have been clamouring for a tracking feature that doesn’t suck. In original iterations of the game, Pokémon Go would list nearby creatures, with a vague step count under each picture. That system broke soon after launch, continuing to list Pokémon but placing them all three step symbols away.
In a recent update, Niantic removed the old tracker, which crippled third-party tracking websites like Pokévision. Niantic said the third-party sites, which placed nearby Pokémon on a map and showed how long they would stay in an area, were putting too much stress on their servers.
Niantic probably wants to stay conscious of their server load as they expand into more countries. The company is working hard to bring the game to 15 Asian countries on Sunday. China and India did not make the cut, but when Earth’s two most populated countries join the game, it’ll likely place an immense pressure on the already-fragile service.
The tracker’s removal led to Pokévision developer Yang Liu writing an open letter to Niantic, pleading they reinstate the feature.
“You’ve simply captured all of our hearts with Pokémon Go, Niantic,” wrote Liu on Medium. “But then, you broke it all too quickly.”
Hopefully, if app’s new tracker rolls out soon, it will help mend the broken hearts of the game’s most devoted fans.