Pokemon Go Tracking Apps Shut Down, Broken Location Feature Removed

There's not much to determine the location of Pokemon anymore.

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Update: If you're playing Pokemon Go on an Android device, you're in luck: there's already a new app that bypasses the limitations to the API that had caused PokeVision to shut down. Called SmartPoke 2, the app is in beta at the moment, but The Verge has confirmed that it does work in a similar way to PokeVision.

You can see Pokemon overlaid on a map, how far away they are from you, and how long they'll be in that location. You can download it for Android phones and Android Wear watches here. There's a good chance that Google will remove the app from the Google Play store, so download it soon if you want it.

If you're on iOS, however, you're out of luck for the moment.

Original Story:

Over the weekend, many players of the wildly popular mobile game Pokemon Go faced a pretty inconvenient turn of events: third-party tracking apps like PokeVision have shut down, access to the Pokemon Go API has apparently been restricted, and an update removed a (admittedly broken) relative location feature from the game.

You might have noticed that PokeVision or other third-party apps have been rendered unusable, and that's reportedly the result of developer Niantic tightening up restrictions to the game's code. The studio now prevents an exploit allowing for access to the game's data on Pokemon stats and locations.

"No longer can you use a bogus certificate in order to inspect/watch traffic while the app runs," Fev Games reported. "The common use case for this lately has been IV checkers and Poke scanners. Those were technically against the Terms of Service, so now breaking the ToS has been made a bit harder."

The developers of PokeVision took to Twitter to discuss the change, saying, "We wish we had some news for you. At this moment, we are respecting Niantic and Nintendo's wishes. Will keep you guys posted." They went on to explain to one irritated fan, "I promise you 100 percent we kept it up as long as reasonably possible. Maybe things will change in the next few days--let's hope."

These apps are currently the only way to find Pokemon outside of just wandering around, because Niantic also pushed an update to the game over the weekend that removed a feature meant to help players know when they're near certain Pokemon. But this "footprints" feature, which shows a Pokemon's proximity by the number of footprints displayed next to its name, never really worked right since Pokemon Go's launch. And now Niantic has decided to just remove it, presumably until it can be fixed.

Fans, of course, aren't happy with this. GameSpot producer Lucy James summed up the general sentiment best with this tweet:

The creator of PokeVision, Yang Liu, also pointed out the source of players' anger and frustration, saying on Twitter: "You don't invent Marco Polo, get 80M players to join, then remove the Polo part and expect people to keep playing."

In other news, the update that removed the footprints feature also made some other tweaks to the game. It added additional safety warnings, removed a broken battery-saving mode, sped up the app's general performance, and added the ability to edit your trainer's look at any time. You can read the full patch notes below.

  • Avatars can now be re-customized from the Trainer profile screen
  • Adjusted battle move damage values for some Pokemon
  • Refined certain Gym animations
  • Improved memory issues
  • Removed footprints of nearby Pokemon
  • Modified battle damage calculation
  • Various bug fixes during wild Pokemon encounter
  • Updated Pokémon details screen
  • Updated achievement medal images
  • Fixed issues with displaying certain map features
  • Minor text fixes

The iOS version of the game has already received another small update that tweaks performance in lists and detail screens.

Check out our roundup of all the crazy and unusual news about Pokemon Go here.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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