The faulty tracking system has plagued Pokemon GO ever since shortly after the mobile AR game launched last month. That isn’t to say it made a whole lot of sense prior to the issues — with a major lack of documentation and explanation, it confused a lot of people even when it was working properly — but when it was deactivated altogether, that was like pouring salt on a still opened wound.
In an update yesterday, Niantic issued a collection of changes. Among them are fixes for curved throwing accuracy, battery saver mode on iOS, and some tracking updates. The official notes from Niantic say, “We’re currently testing a variation of the “Nearby Pokémon” feature with a subset of users. During this period you may see some variation in the nearby Pokémon UI.” Luckily, the internet’s already documented what that means exactly.
The system is split into two parts: Sightings and Nearby. The Sightings system is available to everyone playing Pokemon GO right now. Instead of footprints, you’ll see Pokemon in tufts of grass, a stylistic denotation that harkens back to the tall grass from the classic handheld titles. The tracking system pulses every few seconds to scan your area, resulting in a feature that functions very similarly to the retired footprint system from launch.
The other update, the revised Nearby system, is the more exciting one, but it’s only being tested in major areas like San Francisco right now. Alongside the Sightings feature, you can use also access the Nearby list, which shows images of Pokemon near different Pokestops in your area. By tapping the image, it zooms out to show a top-down map that helps you locate the Pokemon in question. You can see a GIF of this in action down below thanks to NeoGAF users Toki767 and adamy. More images and details here.
Pokemon GO is still far from perfect, but this is at least a step in the right direction. This fan-made redesign on Behance could serve as some inspiration for future features and design principles if Niantic is smart.