Pokemon Go is the hottest mobile game at the moment, successfully making use of augmented reality technology to deliver an experience that Pokemon fans have been dreaming of ever since they first played the first generation of Pokemon games two decades ago. Contrary to popular belief, however, Pokemon Go was not developed by Nintendo and Game Freak – the main Pokemon games’ developer. Instead, it’s developed by Google-backed Niantic, so technically speaking the game isn’t a “true” Pokemon game. Pokemon Go primarily promotes going outside and socializing with people. But it doesn’t follow the same gameplay formula as the other main Pokemon games, which has allowed it to be also enjoyed by those who are new to the franchise, both old and young.
Since Pokemon Go mainly involves wandering around and interacting with other players in real life, it opens a lot of opportunities for other apps to hitch on the game’s popularity. Some are developed specifically to work alongside Pokemon Go, while others are existing apps that became more attractive thanks to the game. Here are some of the most useful ones:
1. GO Extender
One of the main problems of Pokemon Go is that it consumes a lot of battery, which really isn’t all that surprising considering the game requires constant internet use. But even with the augmented reality mode turned off, the game still eats a lot of battery. So it’s a bit confusing that Niantic removed the battery saver feature in the game with their first update, which they have now reinstalled. Thankfully, GO Extender is here to help your battery from going 100% to 0% before you even break a sweat from walking. While your phone is in your pocket and the game is running, GO Extender will turn the screen off and prevent accidental presses. It will also allow you to turn the screen to black while in-game, which is very helpful when you’re out to simply hatch Pokemon eggs. Hatching Pokemon eggs don’t require any interaction with the game, so having a black screen won’t affect your gameplay. The options may not be all that expansive, but with the way the game consumes battery, you need every bit of help to extend your playing time. The last thing you’d want is a 1% battery right when you’re about to catch a Dragonite.
2. Messenger for Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go promotes socializing between people in real life, but not everyone has an equal level of verbal communication skills. Although there’s really no harm in talking to strangers, it can be a bit awkward for some. Also, the game does not provide you with the option to actually contact your nearby teammates when your Gym is in trouble, unless you personally know all your teammates, which basically defeats the purpose of being a “team”. Messenger for Pokemon Go is the solution to both problems. Yes, that’s the actual name of the app: Messenger for Pokemon Go. This app allows you to chat without having to leave the game, which is especially useful if you want to quickly send out information to your friends about a rare Pokemon that appeared right in front of you. The app allows you to exclusively chat with members of your own team, but, like most chat apps, you can also create your own group and invite friends. Messenger for Pokemon Go is non-intrusive, meaning it will not affect the functions of the game. The app is also quite handy if you’ve been meaning to talk to your crush that frequents the same PokeStops that you go to. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee that he or she will also talk to you.
Ingress, like Pokemon Go, is an augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic. Yes, Niantic didn’t simply come up with the idea for Pokemon Go overnight – they already had previous experience employing the same location-based gameplay. But we’re not going to talk about the entire gameplay of Ingress because that would call for a separate article on its own. Instead, we’ll just focus on a specific gameplay feature that’s directly related to Pokemon Go: portals. In the game, players are tasked with capturing portals, which are represented by buildings or landmarks of significance, like post offices, memorials, and parks. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the same holds true for the PokeStops and Gyms in Pokemon Go. In fact, Niantic simply used the portals in Ingress and converted them into PokeStops and Gyms. Pokemon Go does not allow you to see the locations of PokeStops and Gyms unless you are near them, so Ingress can function as your guide to locating them. It’s the best kind of map you’re ever going to get for the game.
4. IV Calculator
Have you ever wondered why your friend’s Magikarp is way stronger than yours even though both Magikarps have been powered up to the max? Well, aside from the displayed Combat Power (CP) and HP, there are also hidden stats that makes every Pokemon different: Individual Values or IVs. These stats are also present in the main Pokemon games and are similarly hidden (at least in earlier generations). To avoid being a bit too technical, IVs affect how strong your Pokemon will get every time it’s powered up with a mouthful of Stardust or other methods. IVs don’t change every time you power up or evolve your Pokemon. They are set the moment you catch or hatch a Pokemon. The IV Calculator for Pokemon Go allows you to calculate the IVs of Pokemon you own by supplying the app with the necessary info. By knowing which Pokemon have high IVs, you will be able to filter out the ones with the higher potential to be stronger. It will save you from spending your hard-earned Candies on potentially weak Pokemon. Face it: Farming for Candies is a very tedious task, no matter how much you enjoy the game.
5. Google Maps
Yes, that’s right. Your plain old Google Maps. While Pokemon Go also makes use of Google Maps, it’s displayed in a rather simplified and cartoon-like layout instead of fully detailed. The Google Maps app will help you in getting to far-off PokeStops and Gyms, because Pokemon Go isn’t exactly that helpful when it comes to directions. Also, if you really spend a lot of time just wandering around and looking for Pokemon everywhere, there’s a chance that you might find yourself in unfamiliar places. Pokemon Go can’t help you if you get lost, but Google Maps can. For iOS device users, there’s Apple Maps.
6. Field Trip
As mentioned, you’ll be wandering a lot while playing Pokemon Go, whether it’s by foot or not. So while you’re aimlessly looking for rare Pokemon, why not load up on some information along the way? Field Trip is a background app that automatically alerts you whenever you get close to a place of interest, like a local historical landmark or a building. The app will tell you interesting tidbits about certain places, but not like a full-on Wikipedia entry. Aside from landmarks or historical architecture, Field Trip will also help you in finding the best places to dine, watch movies, and even the most oddball hidden shops in your area. Of course, you can filter out the things the app will show you, to avoid information overload. Field Trip is really handy when you’re hatching Pokemon eggs. Instead of just walking in random directions, why not head specifically to interesting places? Those places could turn out to be PokeStops, too, so it’s a win-win situation for you.
7. Star Walk
Some Pokemon in Pokemon Go appear more frequently at night, like Clefairy and Gastly. Naturally, it will cause you to wander outside even late at night to continue your Pokemon hunt, no matter how much your mom disapproves. But while you’re busy catching Pokemon in the dark, why not take the time to appreciate the night sky, too? Star Walk is the perfect app to help you with that. This stargazing app simply requires you to point your device at the night sky and it will display the celestial objects in that area. You will be able to see constellations, asteroids, stars, planets, and even numerous man-made satellites. The app can also supply you with information about them, so you’ll be learning at the same time. If you move around, the app will update in real time, changing the displayed objects on-the-go. Star Walk also has a feature that allows you to see the night sky both in the past and in the future – no, that doesn’t make you a fortune teller or something. If you’re at a PoKeStop at night, you can simply gaze at the stars while waiting for the PokeStop to reload.
8. Uber or Lyft
Just because Pokemon Go promotes going outside and traveling around, it doesn’t mean you always have to go on foot. Yes, hatching Pokemon eggs really requires you to walk, but other things like hunting for Pokemon and going to PokeStops and Gyms don’t care how you go around. So for days that you’re starting to feel pity for your tired legs, there’s Uber and Lyft to give you a ride. Both allows you to hail cars using your phone and their prices don’t really differ that much. But there are some key differences to the two. Uber is readily available in more areas than Lyft. Uber drivers tend to interact less, to make their customer’s experience as professional as possible. While Lyft promotes friendliness more, so, naturally, their drivers will try to interact with you. If you don’t like strangers talking to you and simply want to mind your own business as you travel from PokeStop to PokeStop, go with Uber. Uber also has more variety to their vehicles, so if you want to ride with style on your way to defend your team’s Gym, again choose Uber. Lyft, however, allows you to tip your driver if you found their service very satisfying – Uber does not. Both services are essentially the same if you only care about getting to your location as fast as possible.
9. Charity Miles
This app is the only one on this list that does not directly benefit your Pokemon Go experience. Instead, it benefits a charity of your choice. Charity Miles allows you to convert the miles you walked or ran into money, which will be donated to charities. The app is rather straightforward: simply choose a charity among the list and start moving. You will be able to check how much money you were able to accumulate, so you can use that to set a goal or milestone every time you go out. The best way to use the Charity Miles app is, again, when you’re hatching Pokemon eggs or when traveling to numerous PokeStops. Walking towards PokeStops is entirely optional, of course, unlike hatching Pokemon eggs, but wouldn’t you feel better that you’ve helped someone by opting to go on foot instead? Sometimes, small decisions can have large impacts.
Excluded from the list
You might notice that Pokemon tracking apps like PokeVision are not mentioned. That’s because Niantic took them out of the game, so to speak, so we’re not going to recommend apps that have been singled out by the developers. The decision to do so was highly criticized, mainly because Niantic also removed their own Pokemon tracking feature in the game in their first update, which made the game broken. Thankfully, though, that didn’t last long, as Niantic is now introducing a new Pokemon tracker to help trainers hunt Pokemon. Also excluded from the list are dating apps that takes advantage of Pokemon Go, like PokeDates. Because, well, there are already enough dating sites and apps around. They don’t need to invade the realm of Pokemon.
Pokemon Go is still in its infancy, so as the game continues to evolve, expect a lot of other companion apps to surface in the future. So far, though, the above-mentioned apps are some of the most useful ones. Pokemon Go is currently available for free at the Google Play Store and iTunes.