The augmented reality game Pokémon Go has finally been released around the world on iPhone and Android. The title, created by Niantic with the help of the Pokémon Company, lets you walk around the real world to capture in-game pocket monsters.
Pokémon Go has some obvious inclusions like battle gyms and the ability to catch ’em all, as well as some obvious exclusions, like the ability to battle your friends one-on-one or trade with friends. Though apparently that last one is coming to PoGo–or at least that’s what Niantic’s CEO told us.
But almost as interesting as the ability to finally play Pokémon in the real world is the fact that Google has ties with the folks bringing us this AR experience. Niantic was formerly owned by Google. And while the two went their separate ways, the search giant continues to invest in Niantic. That Google log-in button at the start screen of Pokémon Go isn’t there for no reason.
A Google login leads to so much more than just a record of what mini-monsters you’ve collected in Pokémon Go. Impressively, the in-game map highly resembles the streets and sidewalks of your actual surroundings, and landmarks in the game represent landmarks in real life. But blending Go and Google Maps further could lead to even better gameplay. Here are our recommendations to the developers.
A “Nearby Pokémon” View From Within Google Maps
In its current state, Pokémon Go will not serve up notifications when a wild Pokémon is nearby. Meaning unless you’re wearing the Go Plus, you’ll have to leave the app open to capture new Pidgeys and Rattatas. Imagine a commute where you could stay within Google Maps and enable an overlay that shows where nearby Pokémon are located.
This wouldn’t be the first time Pokémon have showed up within the confines of Google Maps. Tapping a Pokémon could shoot you over to the Pokémon Go app, where you can toss Pokéballs until you capture said ‘mon. After a successful catch, a link at the bottom could appear to bring you back to your commute over in Google Maps. More users actively using Google’s map service and more Pokémon being caught within Go. Just, make sure you’re on a bus or walking and not behind the wheel.
Overlay Google Maps Directions Within Pokémon Go
Having to jump between two apps on the phone in your hand is a hugely laborious task that no one has time for these days. If your Maps app and Pokémon Go game are both logged into the same Google account, it wouldn’t be a stretch for the companies to use recent search data and drop hints of commute information into PoGo. As mentioned before, the blocks and landmarks in the game match up very closely to what’s seen in the real world. A toggle on the bottom right could bring up your trip, saving you from going back and forth between apps. Pokémon Go’s already gained a reputation for draining phone batteries, so staying within one app could slightly alleviate this for multitasking users.
Other Useful Additions
Pokémon Go could take further notes from Google Maps to benefit users. In addition to the obvious omissions of notifications, a Google Earth-like view could let you see the real world surroundings of an area to get an idea of what type of Pokémon you can expect there. A location search option within PoGo could allow players to see what Pokémon they can expect when they head to Times Square versus the Eiffel Tower. Pokémon common in one region may be rare in others. A player search system, similar to the recent Pokémon games on Nintendo’s handheld consoles, would allow for gamers to search (on a map) for players in foreign areas.
But for now we’ll let Niantic focus solely on bringing face-to-face trading, like they promised.