Did you notice anything different when you pulled up "Pokemon Go" today? Niantic, Inc. very quietly rolled out a new "Pokemon Go" update that's notable for a number of reasons. For one thing, you can change your avatar's outfit, finally, and unlike before, you're now greeted with messages to not play "Pokemon Go" and drive at the same time. But, perhaps more importantly, the new "Pokemon Go" update got rid of tracking entirely.
What do I mean by tracking? It was the feature that used to tell you (or at least attempt to tell you) which Pokemon were nearby by showing you tiny footprints under their image when you tapped on a particular icon in the lower righthand corner of your phone screen. If the Pokemon had three footprints underneath them, chances are you had to walk a bit to find them. If they were marked with just one footprint, then they were likely lurking close by. Thanks to the new update, you still get to see what Pokemon are in your general vicinity — but the footprint feature is gone entirely. And, depending on who you ask, that's either great news, or terrible news.
While in theory it might seem like a good idea to have some type of marker to indicate how far away you are from particular Pokemon in a game that is all about hunting down Pokemon, in practicality, the tracking system didn't really work. Almost immediately after the app launched, users complained that the footprint system was buggy. Personally, I noticed that all of my nearby Pokemon appeared with three footsteps underneath them, no matter how far away they actually seemed to be — and I'm not the only one who reported that bug.
The masterminds at Niantic, Inc., must have heard the world's complaints, because it decided to take action about the buggy tracking system — by getting rid of it altogether. With the new update in place, you can still see which Pokemon are supposedly near you, but there is no indication of how far away they actually are. The footprints, you'll notice, have entirely disappeared.
There appears to be a few more tracking changes in store as well. As Forbes points out, the layout of the "nearby" grid seems to be random now, whereas before the closest Pokemon to you usually took up the top lefthand spot. So, now you know what wild Pokemon are in the area, but how the heck are you supposed to figure out how to find them? That's a question much of the internet seems to be asking right now:
Most reports seem to think the footstep tracking system was removed because it was too much of a strain on the "Pokemon Go" servers. Although Niantic, Inc. hasn't addressed why it got rid of footstep tracking, specifically, it did list it among other changes brought around by the update in a "Pokemon Go" Facebook post:
For now, at least, it seems like we're going to have to hunt down our Pokemon without the help of a footprint tracker, but hey! Chances are the tracker hadn't been working for you for at least a couple of days, anyway. As is always the case with app updates, it may take users a little time to fully get used to the new changes, but I have the feeling that pretty soon, we'll forget that footstep tracking was even a thing in the first place.
Images: Pokemon Go