Niantic Labs just updated Pokemon Go for Android and iPhone users. The newest update is now stable at version 0.35.0 for Android and 1.5.0 for iOS devices. One of the big new changes to the game is how battles will play out now that they've added a new Pokemon appraisal feature.
Over on the official Pokemon Go website, Niantic details that there are three major changes added to the game. The first major feature is the Pokemon appraisal, which allows users to survey the stats and abilities of a rival Pokemon. Trainers can learn about the attacks and defenses of certain Pokemon from the leaders of various teams, including Candela, Blanche and Spark. This will allow players to drastically change their strategy in choosing which Pokemon is best suited for a battle.
Think of it as Pokemon Go's Pokedex with an extra side-order of battle information to ensure that you're best prepared for whichever Pokemon you face off against.
The second feature in the update is actually more of a hook for future updates. The team basically explains that they've laid groundwork for future changes to come to Pokemon Go, but they don't reveal what those features are. If I had to guess based on what Niantic Labs' CEO, John Hanke, has mentioned in the past, I would probably say that there's some big new team battles or PvP modes set to go live in the near future. The Pokemon appraisal feature coupled with Hanke's comments about wanting to focus more on PvP and team battles seems to point to Pokemon Go stepping up their game in the near future as far as features are concerned. Of course, we won't know until Niantic makes it public.
The third feature in the update is actually more of a restriction... it's a fix for the game's bot problem. For those of you who haven't been keeping track, plenty of third-party bots have been infiltrating the Pokemon Go scene, making it where players don't even have to play in order to progress in the game.
The bots started popping up after people found out that they were having a tough time making progress using ceiling fans to spoof steps taken in the game in order to hatch eggs. The bots allowed users to essentially spoof their GPS and hatch eggs easily in Pokemon Go, which in turn allowed a lot of people gain access to new Pokemon without having to actually work for it.
Some new bot programs have even started popping up recently after some other third-party trackers were taken down after Niantic Labs started going after them. All of this comes on the heels of news that Pokemon Go's 15 minutes in the limelight may be up.
Recent market reports are indicating the daily active users and general user engagement has been down throughout August compared to July. Niantic may have to work fast to unleash some major new content for Pokemon Go if they want to keep people playing and keep that engagement high. It may be a tough job given that they seem to be in a tough position of maintaining a balancing act of combating the botters and cheaters while also improving the infrastructure to handle new features in future updates.