Pokemon Go Plus Accessory

Pros and Cons of Pokemon Go Plus for Walkers and Runners

Pokemon Go Plus Accessory
Pokemon Go Plus Accessory. Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Pokemon Go Plus accessory solves a couple of the biggest problems of playing the Pokemon Go game while enjoying a brisk walk or run. With it, you can now keep your phone safely in your pocket with the game in the background and still catch Pokemon, collect items at Pokestops, and have your distance counted towards Buddy candy and egg hatching.

The Pokemon Go Plus reduces the hazards of screen distraction while you are walking or running.

If you are addicted to the game, is it worth owning?

Pokemon Go Plus

The Pokemon Go Plus wearable is styled as a plastic teardrop-shaped Pokeball with a single central button. It measures 1.8 by 1.3 by 0.7 inches and weighs 0.5 ounces. It comes with a clip for wearing it on your clothing or a band to wear it on your wrist. One big inconvenience is that you need a small Phillips screwdriver to change between the clip and the wristband.

It is powered by a replaceable coin battery that the specs say may last for months, but users report it lasts about 45 days, depending on your usage. You will need the screwdriver to replace it, so keep it handy.

It isn't waterproof but will tolerate a few raindrops. For rainy days, it's easy to place it in a plastic bag and still use the button.

Setup and Pairing

The initial setup isn't clear in the instructions. It is easy, but here is what you need to do. Open your Pokemon Go app and tap the Pokeball icon to go to the next screen where you find the Settings icon at the top right (the cogwheel).

Select Settings, and you will see the Pokemon Go Plus options. Tap the button on your Go Plus accessory, and it will appear as an available device. Select it to pair it with your app. Note that the Settings screen is where to return to if you want to change the notification settings for the Go Plus.

The Go Plus pairs with the app on your phone via Bluetooth, but doesn't do so automatically each time you open the game. After the initial setup and pairing, you now have a Pokemon Go Plus icon on your game screen. When you want to use the accessory, you tap the icon and then press the button on the Go Plus to connect it. When you want to end using the accessory, you tap it again.

While paired, the Go Plus uses your phone GPS to track your location and distance and alert you to the presence of Pokemon and Pokestops. This drains power on your phone, but because you can now place the game in the background and even turn the screen off, it is less of a drain than walking around with the screen showing the game.

Pokemon Go Plus Game Play

The single button on the Pokemon Go Plus is used to capture Pokemon and collect items at Pokestops. The LED light flashes in different colors, and it vibrates to alert you. You can choose in the app whether you are only notified of Pokemon, Pokestops, both, or neither.

Those are good options to have, and you can easily switch between them via the Settings menu.

Here is your decoder for the lights and vibrations:

  • Green, buzz six times: You are in range of a wild Pokemon. Press the button to toss a Pokeball to attempt to capture it. Note: you only have one shot, and it always uses your lowest Pokeball.
  • After pressing the green, you will get a white light, and it will buzz three times as it is tossing the ball. If you then get a rainbow of flashes and five buzzes, it has caught the Pokemon. If you get a red light and three blips, the Pokemon escaped. In cases where you are out of Pokeballs, you get a red light and three blips instead of the white light. If your Pokemon storage is full, you get a red light and a buzz instead of the white light.
  • Yellow: There is a Pokemon in range of a type you haven't yet caught. In this case, you may want to get out your phone and use a Raspberry and higher-level Pokeball to have a better chance of catching it than using the Go Plus. Otherwise, you can still press the button and toss a single ball.
  • Blue, blip times six: You are in range of a Pokestop. Press the button to collect items. If successful, you get rainbow flashes and three blips. If you passed out of the range of the Pokestop, you get a red light and a buzz. If your item bag is full, you get a white light and a buzz.
  • Yellow: There is a Pokemon in range of a type you haven't yet caught. In this case, you may want to get out your phone and use a Raspberry and higher-level Pokeball to have a better chance of catching it than using the Go Plus.
  • Red, blip times three: Your phone is out of range of the Go Plus.
  • Red, buzz: You don't have an internet connection.
  • If you press the button when there is no light and you get a blip, it means that it is connected. If you get a blue light, it means it is disconnected. If you get a white light, it means it is ready to pair. If you get no light and no vibration, it can mean your battery is dead and needs replacing.

To see what you have caught and items collected, check your Journal in the app.

Pokemon Go Plus Distance Tracking

It is a very big advantage to be able to keep your phone safely in your pocket or holder while walking or running and still earn distance credit for Buddy candy and hatching eggs. With the Go Plus, you can now play Pokemon while using good walking and running form.

If you are racing a half marathon, you can wear the Go Plus on your wrist, clip it to your clothing, or even keep it in a pocket if you don't want to use the button and only want to track distance. However, be warned that if the app crashes or you lose internet connectivity, your distance won't be tracked. If you will be crushed at losing distance credit, it is good to keep the Go Plus where you can monitor it for those tell-tale red lights.

In testing on a 13.1-mile half marathon, there were areas where cell service was limited, and the app and Go Plus could not track distance. In testing for daily use, there were regular instances of the app crashing, as it does with or without the Go Plus, and therefore distance was not tracked.

You will not be able to track distance in an area that has no cell service. You have to be able to connect to the Pokemon server actively before pairing each time you use it. In testing on a hike in a wilderness area, no service meant no Pokemon play or distance credit.

Distance tracking with the Go Plus is more accurate than the regular app distance tracking. The problem with Pokemon Go distance tracking is that it only checks your location every 30 seconds to two minutes. That means you can cover quite a bit of territory before it gives you a straight-line distance. If you backtrack or meander during that time, you get shorted for distance. Your pedometer step count or GPS distance tracking won't match up with the Pokemon distance credit with the regular app. It should be better, but still not perfect, with the Go Plus.

It is odd and annoying that Pokemon Go doesn't use the built-in pedometer on your smart phone to give you distance credit anyway. They could include a pedometer in the Go Plus so you could use it for distance credit when not connected to the internet or when you have left your phone safely at home. But neither of those are what they have chosen to do. Instead, you have to be actively connected to their server for both the app and the Go Plus to track your distance.

Bottom Line on the Pokemon Go Plus

Cons:

  • No alert for gyms and you can't use it for gym battles. It would be useful if it gave at least an alert that you were in range of a gym so you could then decide whether you wanted to battle.
  • No choice of using a higher-level Pokeball: You only get one ball, and it uses the lowest one you still have in stock. You don't know until after you've tried to catch a Pokemon if you are actually out of balls.
  • Using the low-level Pokeballs, you may find yourself running low on them as higher-level Pokemon escape.
  • The availability of the Go Plus was limited, with sell-outs soon after it debuted. You may have to buy one at a highly-inflated price from a reseller if you don't want to wait for better availability.
  • Having to use a screwdriver to change from clip to wristband is not convenient. One hack is to slip a silicone or rubber band or hair tie under the clip and use that to keep it attached to your hand or wrist when desired.
  • There is no notification when eggs hatch, so you may miss an opportunity to start incubating another egg.

Pros:

  • Keep Your Phone Stashed: No longer do you need to risk dropping your phone when you are out walking or running. You can keep it safely stowed, with the app running in the background but screen off. You can talk with your friends, and you don't have to pause to toss Pokeballs or twirl the Pokestop to collect items. You can just keep moving and keep interacting with people rather than your screen.
  • Save Phone Battery Power: One large factor in the battery drain in Pokemon Go is keeping the screen active. While using GPS location also drains power, you won't have the same massive drain as playing the game with an active screen. You may not have to carry around a spare power pack and charging cable on long walks.
  • Playing in the Rain or Cold: Pokemon Go is designed to get you walking, running, and biking outdoors, but in rainy or cold weather, it isn't convenient or safe to hold your phone in your hand. With the Go Plus, you can keep playing in inclement weather.
  • Collecting Pokestops: If you are traveling (as a passenger) at speeds under Pokemon's speed limit, you can set the app to alert you only to Pokestops and easily collect items to replenish your bag. If you regularly travel in a vehicle down streets with lots of Pokestops, this will keep you stocked up with minimal distraction.

For the addicted Pokemon Go player who doesn't want to lose distance credit but wants to keep their phone stashed away, the Go Plus is a good solution. You can keep playing in all weather and reduce screen distraction hazards.

Buy Pokemon Go Plus from Amazon.com

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