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Pokémon Go’s nearby feature gets huge overhaul in beta test

An in-game tracker that actually works? It could happen

Pokémon Go’s beleaguered in-game Pokémon tracking system appears to be on the verge of a breakthrough, according to some players with access to a revamped version of the feature. A beta for the forthcoming return of the nearby Pokémon tool is available to certain users following the game’s latest update, and early details suggest that it comes with some major enhancements.

San Francisco locals reported that they had access to a nearby system with new mechanics yesterday. It’s not confirmed whether this build is specific to the area as of now, although Pokémon Go’s first North American beta began in Northern California as well before coming eastward. (Niantic neglected to comment on the possible expansion of the test build.)

The video above shows it all in action, but a player helpfully detailed many of the changes that could be coming to the transformed tracker. The most obvious of these, Redditor will650 pointed out, was that the meter now shows a Pokémon next to a picture of a PokéStop upon selection. Tapping one of the highlighted nearby Pokémon shows its silhouette and attached PokéStop, and choosing the "view" option then zooms out to show exactly where that location is.

A number of footprints indicating distance then appears on top of it to aid in more precise hunting, although players have yet to see anything other than three paws — reminiscent of the glitch that sunk the original feature in the first place. The original meter showed anything from one to three footprints when it was up and running, and the beta build will show Pokémon right up close to the player, even though the number of footprints suggests otherwise.

A notification will appear when a Pokémon flees, and it will no longer appear in the nearby list. Testers suggest that Pokémon appear less frequently, and that using a Lure Module item to attract more of them will result in monsters appearing on-screen but not on the meter itself.

Niantic is "currently testing a variation of the 'Nearby Pokémon' feature with a subset of users"

Niantic wrote in the patch notes of the game’s new version, pushed out to iOS and Android users yesterday, that it was testing a new user interface for the nearby system. Most of us, however, are stuck with Sightings, a similar — and similarly useless — feature to the footprint-less Pokémon tracker that Niantic issued a few weeks ago.

That update proved controversial, as many players were attached to the dysfunctional nearby system, which failed to give an accurate measure of where a Pokémon was in the area for most of its early life. Contributing to the drama was Niantic’s public displeasure with popular online mapping tools that players used in lieu of the game’s own system, leading sites like Pokévision to shut down entirely.

Whenever this version of the nearby system rolls out to everyone — if it ever does in this new form — it could be a literal gamechanger for many of the most devoted Pokémon Go players. For now, there are still a few online Pokémon trackers to help trainers out on their quests, or they can let the spirit of adventure continue to guide them instead.

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