A large part of Pokémon Go’s appeal can be found in the app’s ability to inspire us to get out and explore our own town or city. But, if you just want to find the maximum number of Pokémon with the least amount of effort, there are a number of bots available that will more or less play the game for you.
"The user first provides a latitude and longitude as a starting point (the center of any major city is a good place to start) and some Pokémon Go account credentials to authenticate with the servers," Ars Technica reports. "The bot then finds any nearby Pokémon (using those previously discussed mapping functions) and simulates a 'walk' to the nearest one by sending spoofed GPS coordinates to the server at appropriate intervals. When the bot gets close enough to a Pokémon, it can use a simple API call to quickly catch it before moving on to the next target."
The bots remove just about all the joy from the game, but they’re an efficient way to gain levels and Pokémon. You don’t even have to worry about seeing what’s going on!
"Rather than Pokémon Go's compelling augmented reality interface, the bots simply provide ‘players’ with a running textual readout of their quickly rising stats and virtualized activities," Ars states. "The automation of every single in-game move means a bot can advance in the game much more quickly than humanly possible."
This isn't the first time players have tried "cheating," and Niantic has ways to punish players caught spoofing the GPS data.
Ars Technica goes into much more detail about about how the bots work and how the game’s servers may detect them in the future, but in the short term the best defense against this sort of hacking may just be the fact that playing in this manner isn’t very enjoyable. Pokémon Go is refreshing because it’s fun to get out and walk around; the rush of capturing a rare Pokémon is likely more important to most players than gaining levels in the fastest way possible.