Pokémon GO developer Niantic recently announced that more realistic Pokémon encounters are coming to the immensely-popular mobile game via a brand-new AR+ mode. AR+ leverages Apple’s ARKit framework to build on the AR work already implemented in Pokémon GO. Soon, Pokémon GO players around the world running iOS 11 on iPhone 6s and newer models will be able to experience AR+ in Pokémon GO. Read on below to learn more about how this new mode works:
The new feature will be coming “soon” to Pokemon Go on iPhone and iPad and can be triggered during any Pokemon encounter, including those following Raid Battles. Once you switch on AR+ mode, you’ll see Tall Grass (like in the main Pokemon games) that you’ll have to tap in order to make a Pokemon appear on-screen.
Once you’ve engaged a Pokemon, a new proximity alert system will trigger. Unlike Pokemon Go’s original AR mode, AR+ now keeps the Pokemon in a fixed position, and will track how close you are. If you approach a Pokemon too quickly, a meter will fill up and change from yellow to red. If it fills in completely red, the Pokemon will flee. But if you approach slowly and get close enough, an “Expert Handler” alert will appear on-screen in place of the meter, offering additional experience points and Stardust for catching the Pokemon.
Since Pokemon remain in a fixed position, you’ll now also be able to fully move around the Pokemon in 360 degrees for photos, including taking a picture from behind a Pokemon or from any angle. AR+ Mode is powered by Apple’s ARKit framework and will be compatible with iOS 11 on iPhone 6S and newer, 5th generation iPad, and any iPad Pro.
Earlier this week, we visited Niantic’s San Francisco headquarters and had the chance to try out AR+ on an iPhone X. While it took a bit of practice to nail down the speed to approach Pokemon without scaring them off, the mode felt like a huge improvement over the original AR mode.
Pokemon are now significantly smaller or larger depending on their size (so approaching an Oddish, for example, looked and felt dramatically different than approaching a Snorlax) and taking photos from new angles seems like it will be a fun new way to show off rare encounters.
Niantic employees told us the system was still undergoing some fine tuning, so while I had a lot of trouble hitting Pokemon with curve balls, for example (as hit boxes seemed to be different than in Pokemon Go’s current standard catch mode), some adjustments may come by the time the mode is released.