Pokemon will now flee if you approach too quickly in AR mode, but Expert Handlers will get bonus XP and Stardust.
Niantic has revealed AR+ Mode, a new AR feature coming to Pokemon Go exclusively on Apple devices.
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.
Check out footage of AR+ Mode in the video above
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.
The demo build we played also featured multiple Pokemon that haven’t been released yet, including Delibird, Carvanha, Barboach, Spheal, and more. A Niantic representative told us to expect news on those Pokemon and more “very soon,” and reiterated that a holiday event is on the way.
Niantic is clearly doubling down on AR support, something it teased at Apple’s WWDC in June and again following the iPhone X announcement in September. Niantic also held a Pokemon Go AR photo contest earlier this year, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see happen again in the future.
For now, it’s fun to see Niantic embracing new technology for Pokemon Go, and along with the recent dynamic weather update, it feels like real steps are being taken to make the word even more immersive.
Andrew is IGN’s executive editor of news and currently has 297 Pokemon in his Pokedex. You can find him rambling about Persona and cute animals on Twitter.