Niantic has never quite recaptured the initial user friendliness of the nearby Pokemon tracker found in the original version of Pokemon Go. That feature disappeared, supposedly due to a problem with the game’s Google Maps integration, but the Sightings feature that replaced it was far from popular and it too disappeared.
When Nearby returned in modified form, it only revealed Pokemon in close proximity to PokeStops, a decision that severely limited its usefulness to anyone outside metropolitan areas. Niantic has now updated the game once more, changing Nearby’s mechanics and bringing Sightings back to work in tandem with Nearby. Both features have now been rolled out to “most regions of the world”.
With the new update announced on Friday, Pokemon Go will now supplement Nearby Pokemon with Sightings. If there aren’t enough PokeStops in your area to make Nearby useful, or if there are less than three Pokemon on the Nearby tracker, the game will now add a Sightings list to Nearby.
This is especially useful for players in rural areas, where they may only see Sightings due to a lack of PokeStops in their vicinity. However, if you live in a city with lots of PokeStops around you won’t have access to Sightings at all, because Nearby takes priority over Sightings.
Niantic specifically calls this update a test, so there’s no guaranteeing this will be the way the game remains for long. If The Silph Road sub-Reddit is anything to go by, most players would prefer to have the choice between seeing Nearby Pokemon or Sightings. With Niantic seemingly paying closer attention to what its users want, that request may well appear in future.
How do you think Niantic should handle Pokemon tracking?