A Pokemon Go Apple Watch app has just been released, and for many fans, the most enticing feature will be its ability to more accurately record their movement.
In the free-to-play mobile game from Niantic, one of the best ways to stock up on Pokemon is by hatching them; to do so, players must obtain eggs and then walk a certain number of kilometers in real life. But the problem is that you can’t just slip your phone into your pocket and expect your movement to count. Rather, the Pokemon Go app has to be running with your phone unlocked in order for any of your movement to register with the game, and it often does not accurately measure your distance anyway.
That’s not the case with the Pokemon Go Apple Watch app. The Apple Watch app does need to connect to your iPhone, and the phone has to be within Bluetooth range of the Apple Watch. But unlike with the main game, your steps will register even when your phone is locked. Also unlike the main game, the Apple Watch appears to measure your actual steps taken rather than the distance you have traveled, though this has not yet been confirmed. This is an important distinction, as the main game just registers how far you’ve traveled on the map rather than how much you have walked, and so walking on a treadmill wouldn’t work because the game doesn’t understand that you are not stationary.
Because of this, early reports from Apple Watch users have suggested that the app is much more accurate at measuring distance than the iPhone game is. Pokemon Go Plus, the $35 wearable device Nintendo released earlier this year, also measures distance without the app needing to be open, but it does so using the same system as the main Pokemon Go game.
The one thing you can’t do with the Apple Watch app, though, is catch Pokemon; you’ll be notified on the app whenever one is nearby, but you will then have to take out your iPhone to actually catch it. However, the Apple Watch app will inform you when a PokeStop is nearby, and you can then collect all of the items within the Apple Watch and without needing to utilize the iPhone.
Here’s how Niantic summarizes the key features of the Apple Watch app in their news release:
- Log each play session as a workout, with gameplay counting toward personal Activity rings
- Receive notifications about nearby Pokémon
- Count distance toward hatching Pokémon Eggs and receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokémon
- Receive notifications about PokéStops nearby and collect items from them
- Receive notifications when Eggs hatch and medals are awarded