Pokemon Go has added a brand new feature to the game in the August 8th update called “sightings.” What is it, exactly? How does it work?
Well, when Pokemon Go first launched, the app included a “nearby” tracker, which showed players what Pokemon types were in their immediate area. It was quite helpful, and a footprint graphic specified exactly how far away everything was. But it didn’t take long for a glitch to completely ruin this feature, causing every single species to be listed as three footsteps away regardless of where it really was.
Seemingly unable to resolve this issue, Niantic Labs removed the footstep graphic from the nearby tracker. Now, they’ve overhauled the entire feature.
What we have instead is now called “sightings.” It’s a similar idea in that players are shown the Pokemon in their area, but there are a few differences. First, it does not seem to display any duplicates, whereas the old nearby tracker could sometimes be made up entirely of the same species listed over and over.
This new feature is also constantly updating, which makes it much more helpful than the old version. Before, a Pokemon would usually stay on your tracker until you restarted the app or until something else spawned in its place. Now, the Pokemon disappears the instant you are no longer near it, with the radius apparently being about 700 feet.
It’s still not quite the old system with the three footsteps, but because the sightings feature updates so frequently, players can now walk around while keeping an eye on the screen in order to track down a specific Pokemon. You can walk in one direction, for instance, and as soon as the Pokemon disappears, you know you’ve gone too far and should turn back. The new version is also much visually clearer, whereas the old nearby tracker left many confused once the footsteps were gone.
As this is a brand new feature, the details are still being worked out. For example, it’s unclear if there’s any significance to the order of the Pokemon; some have speculated that the top left represents what’s closest to you, but at the moment it seems that the order is completely random and is not associated with distance.
Niantic is not done experimenting with a new tracker, though. Some players are lucky enough to have an additional “nearby” tab, which shows exactly what Pokestops each species has spawned near. The feature is not appearing for everyone, however, and Niantic’s patch notes explain, “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.”