Pokémon Go: The Ultimate Guide

Take location-based gaming, add augmented reality, and mix in characters so beloved they shaped a generation, and what do you get? Pokémon Go! Developed by Niantic, the makers of Ingress, it takes the Pokémon characters and places them in the real world so you can catch, hatch, and evolve them on the go. Playable on both iOS and Android, alone or with family and friends, it's not only incredibly fun, it's become a global phenomenon.

Whether you're just starting, trying to take your training to the next level, or been playing for. a while and looking for new challenges, this is the guide for you! Here's everything you need to know about Pokémon Go!

How do you get started with Pokémon Go?

If you're brand new and have never played Pokémon Go before, getting started is easy. All you have to do is create an account. You can use a Pokémon account or you can sign in with a Google Account. If you don't want to share your primary Google Account — including your Gmail, Google Docs, and more — with Pokémon Go, you can make a secondary account exclusively to use with the game.

Once you're done, you create your character, called a "trainer" and customize her or him to represent you or any image you want to portray in the Pokémon Go world. Then you can start playing!

Need help getting signed in, suited up, and started with catching Pokémon, using the menu, dropping Incense and Lures, and all the other basics?

Pokémon Go Beginner's Guide: How to get started with Pokémon Go!

What Pokémon Go tips, tricks, and cheats do you need to know?

I've been playing Pokémon Go since launch day. I'm currently level 39, have completed my Gen 1 and Gen 2 North American Pokédex and most of the medals (Fisherman, though, might take a million years...) Over the last many months, levels, events, and encounters, I've picked up a few tips and tricks that have helped me immensely. It's the stuff I know now that I wish I knew back when I started. Heck, I wish I knew some of it back when I hit level 30!

And... there are also some cheats. They're not how some people want to play, but they include precisely measuring stats, scanning and tracking beyond the legal limits, sneaking in extra power-up, bubble-boosting Gyms, and getting around the speed lock. Use at your own risk.

How do you find and catch rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

Before you can catch any Pokémon in Pokémon Go, you first have to find them. And that can be easier said than done, especially for rare Pokémon like Tyranitar, Snorlax, Dragonite, Lapras, Blissey, Amphoros, and Muk.

There are places like water spawns, though, where you have a higher chance of catching Magikarp and Dratini so you can evolve Gyarados and Dragonite, and there are nests, where many kinds of Pokémon spawn in large numbers for two weeks at a time.

Once you find them, some Pokémon are also considerably harder to catch than others. There are catch rates, flee rates, levels, bonuses, and more to consider. That's especially true of Raid Bosses, which can be among the hardest Pokémon to catch — even with the new Golden Razz Berries to help entice them.

How do you level up, hatch eggs, evolve, TM, and power up faster in Pokémon Go?

To be the very best in Pokémon Go you need to get XP and level up faster, and hatch Pokémon Eggs, get candy and stardust so you can evolve and power up your Pokémon, and TMs to change movesets quicker than anyone else.

You get XP by playing the game. You get eggs by spinning PokéStops and hatch them by incubating them and walking with them. You get candy by hatching eggs and catching and trading in Pokémon. You get stardust by hatching eggs, catching Pokémon, and feeding Berries to friendly Pokémon in Gyms. You get TMs by winning Battle Raids.

But there are ways of getting XP, candy, and stardust more rapidly so you can level up, evolve, and power up sooner. Then you really can be the very best!

How do the new Gym and Raid Battles work in Pokémon Go?

There's a whole new Gym system for Pokémon Go and it changes everything: How you join Gyms, how you defend Gyms, how you attack Gyms, how you get stardust, coins, and — yes! — candy, and how you spin them for items — yes again! Basically, you're going to have to start your Gyms and Gym strategies over from scratch.

Pokémon Go has also unleashed Battle Raids! In Battle Raids, Gyms get taken over by an Egg and a timer starts counting down. When the timer reaches zero, the Egg hatches, and the Raid Boss appears. Raid Bosses are ranked from Tiers 1 to 5, each one tougher and more powerful the last — and sometime soon they might even be Legendary…!

Which Pokémon should you evolve and which should you power up?

When you catch Pokémon in Pokémon Go, you get candy and Stardust that you can use to evolve them and power them up. When you beat Raid Bosses, you sometimes get Technical Machines (TMs) you can use to change their Fast Moves or Charge Moves.

But which Pokémon should you evolve, TN, and power up? That's the question! If you have favorites, especially favorites from your childhood, by all means, go for those. If you want to evolve the very best Pokémon to use for defending or attacking Gyms, or winning Raid Battles, those should be your go-tos.

Gyms have been de-emphasized by the recent update, so while Blissey and Snorlax up to 2999 CP are now the go-to, almost nothing will keep any Pokémon in any Gym for a long time any more. (And you don't want it to, because you only get coins when they're kicked off now.)

But Raid Battles are new, exciting, and still demand not just Pokémon, but optimal Pokémon like Rhydon, Machamp, Tyranitar, Golem, Vaporeon, Dragonite, and more.

How do you get all the gold medals in Pokémon Go?

Getting to level 40 and completing your Pokédex are just a couple of the ways to win in Pokémon Go. Getting gold in all the medals is another. Some of them are easy and some are just a matter of time. Others... are more of a challenge.

While the basic achievement medals don't offer anything by way of rewards, the type medals do. Get gold for one of those and you also get a permanent 1.3x bonus towards catching Pokémon of the same type. Yeah, you want that!

How to get every gold medal in Pokémon Go

What are Pokémon Go updates and events you need to know about?

Pokémon Go has promised a major update every three months or so, and also sneak in some small and medium-sized updates in between. Back in February, we got Gen 2 and just recently we got stat and moveset randomization for everyone under level 30.

There have also been major events held roughly every month, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, New Year's, Valentine's Day, and spring — with Pokémon Day, Water Festival, and a few others thrown in between.

What about Gen 2 Pokémon? How do you catch 'em all — again?

Pokémon Go Gen 2 arrived in Feburary, 2017, and brought almost 100 new Pokémon to catch, hatch, and evolve. They also brought new evolution items, Shiny Pokémon, and other dynamics to make the game even more exciting — and frustrating!

How do you prepare for Gen 3 in Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Gen 2 might just have launched but it's never too early to start preparing for Gen 3... and Gen 4. That's because Gen 3 was more of a departure than a sequel to the beloved franchise. There are a couple of new babies but no new evolution. But that simply sets and even bigger, better, stage for the super-evolutions coming in Gen 4.

How to prepare for Gen 3 and Gen 4 in Pokémon Go

What accessories can you use to boost your Pokémon Go play to the next level?

All you really need to enjoy Pokémon Go is your phone and the app, but there are a few other things that you can use to take the game to the next level. That includes Nintendo's Pokémon Go Plus Bluetooth accessory, that lets you catch Pokémon and spin PokéStops faster and more easily than ever; Apple Watch and the Pokémon Go workout extension that lets you hatch eggs in a jiffy; as well as the battery packs, headphones, and other basics that simply let you keep going and going.

Best accessories for Pokémon Go

Help! Pokémon Go isn't working! How do you fix it?

Pokémon Go is a lot of fun but it's not without its frustrations. Servers go down, Gyms glitch out, PokéStops stop spinning, everything disappears, and the list goes on and on. It happens on your phone and, if you have an Apple Watch, it happens there as well. Troubleshooting isn't always easy but it is possible. If you're experiencing any grief, here's what you can do!

Any Pokémon Go questions?

We've done our best to cover Pokémon Go from Abra to Zubat — okay, Bulbasaur to Dragonite! — but if there are any questions we didn't answer, drop them in the comments below!

Rene Ritchie

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.