Back in September Niantic, the developer behind the phenomenally successful Pokémon Go app for iPhone, spawned on Apple's keynote stage to announce Pokémon Go for Apple Watch, available by the end of the year. Well, that turns out to be now!
Despite some fears to the contrary, as you read this, Pokémon Go for Apple Watch is arriving. (If you're reading it immediately, it might take a short time to propagate, because servers, but you'll get it soon!)
How do I download and install Pokémon Go for Apple Watch?
Like any Apple Watch app, it's built into the iPhone app, so if you haven't got the just updated version, get it:
Rewind, what exactly is Pokémon Go for Apple Watch?
Here's what Niantic had to say:
For the first time ever, Pokémon GO can be played hands-free with the new Apple Watch app. Players will now be able to explore and experience the world around them directly from their wrists, whether they're tracking wild Pokémon or trying to hatch the new Pokémon from the Pokémon Gold and Silver video games.
Apple Watch is the ultimate platform for Pokémon GO as it seamlessly combines gameplay and imagination with exercising and exploring the real world. Trainers can easily interact with Pokémon GO on Apple Watch using quick taps to discover nearby Pokémon and collect items. Once they encounter a Pokémon, they can catch it via iPhone. In the Niantic tradition of getting people moving, Trainers can log their play sessions through the Apple Watch app as a Workout that will count towards their personal Activity rings, while also tracking steps towards hatching Pokémon eggs.
To recap the core features of Pokémon GO for Apple Watch, Trainers will be able to:
- Log each play session as a Workout, with gameplay counting towards personal Activity rings
- Receive notifications about nearby Pokémon
- Count steps towards hatching Pokémon eggs and receiving candies via your buddy Pokémon
- Receive notifications about PokéStops nearby and collect items from them
- Receive notifications when eggs hatch and badges are awarded
This holiday season, Trainers can experience Pokémon GO and the world around them in a whole new way on Apple Watch. It's the perfect companion for taking bundled-up winter walks in the Northern Hemisphere and for fun summer activities in the Southern Hemisphere. And hey, you'll even get a head start on those New Year's fitness resolutions.
Hatch those eggs right from your wrist the next time you go on a run with your Apple Watch!
So Pokémon Go for Apple Watch isn't a port from iPhone? A virtual Pokemon Go Plus?
No, Pokémon Go for Apple Watch is something entirely new! It's not meant as a replacement but as a companion to help you get more out of your experience, both in terms of gameplay and fitness.
Are there Pokémon Go for Apple Watch complications?
Niantic has shown kilometers remaining for egg hatching as a complication on the Modular Watch face. So, 1.2/2.0 on that 2K egg, or 7.8/10.0 on the Dratini you're hoping for. We'll double check the shipping version to make sure it made it in, though!
What's in the app itself?
Pokémon Go for Apple Watch launches into an info screen that shows your team logo — Valor, Mystic, or Instinct — along with your level and the experience you've achieved compared to what you need for your next level.
It also has a huge START button on the front. Tap it, and you start a Workout.
Yup, Pokémon Go for Apple Watch is a fitness app that ties into both the Workout system, so you get credit for your activity, and it syncs with HealthyKit, so it ties into your greater fitness and picture.
Just a little more complicated than your average game app...
So, what can I actually do with it?
Start that workout, start walking and catching, and you'll get the basics like Kilometers traveled, time spent, and calories burned. But you'll also get — wait for it! — NEARBY!
Right? You'll see the icons for known Pokemon and the outlines for new-to-you Pokemon right on the workout screen.
If and when a Pokémon spawns, you'll get a full screen notification — A wild Dragonite appeared!
Okay, more likely a Ratatta, but you'll get the notification!
Can you throw balls or catch Pokémon with the Watch app?
Not yet. For now, when you get the notification, it'll hand off to the Pokémon Go app on your iPhone and you can catch from there.
What about PokéStops?
You'll get a notification as you reach a PokéStop as well, including a Taptic, similar to the vibe you get on iPhone. You can spin the Digital Crown to read all about it, but what you'll really want to do is spin the PokéStop itself, with a swipe, just like you would on iPhone.
Apple Watch will show you what you collect, from balls to potions and everything else.
Any other notifications? Like for Awards? Hatches?
Yup! If you earn any medals for catching 'mon, spinning 'stops, or anything else, you'll get that pushed right to you as well.
Also, when an egg is ready to hatch, you'll know about it. The notification comes in, animates, and even shows you what's hatched!
Will I get credit for walking my Buddy?
Total credit! Same as you would if the iPhone app was open.
Doesn't the small Watch screen make it hard to keep track of everything?
When you finish a Pokémon Go workout, like any workout, you'll get a summary screen that shows not just how far and long you walked or ran, and how many calories you burned, but everything you picked up from PokéStops as well.
Sold, how to I download and install it again?
Download the updated Apple Watch app:
Once you have that:
- Open the Watch app on your iPhone
- Scroll down and tap on Pokémon Go
- Switch Show App on Apple Watch to On.
If you have any questions about Pokémon Go for Apple Watch, drop them in the comments below!
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.