Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Map Cheats for Pokemon Go - Updated

It is undeniable that the biggest mapping story over the last couple of weeks has been the huge success of Pokemon Go. In light of this success lots of interactive maps are popping up promising to show you the locations of Pokemon characters, gyms and PokeStops.

Most of these maps appear to use crowd-sourcing to collect the data from Niantic Labs and Nintendo's 'augmented reality' mobile game. The quality of the data on the crowd-sourced maps are always going to depend on the number of active users and people submitting locations to the maps.

If you don't want to rely on the power of the crowd then you should use the PokeVision map. PokeVision does not use crowd-sourcing to find nearby locations of Pokemon. It actually shows you the location of all the Pokemon near you in real-time. Each Pokemon shown on the map also includes a timer which displays how long the Pokemon will remain at that location.

PokeVision uses the Niantic API to find the locations of Pokemon near your location in real-time. I presume this is an undocumented API (and therefore could be against the Pokemon Go TOS). It is possible therefore that PokeVision might stop working - if Niantic get upset with PokeVision or make changes to their internal API.

In terms of aesthetics all the crowd-sourced maps (bar one) appear to be very basic in design - presumably in the general rush to get to the market. Pokecrew seems to be the only third-party Pokemon map to have given much thought to the design of the map. In fact it uses very nicely designed custom map markers, which feature images of the Pokemon characters.

PokeMapper does seem to have at least made a half-hearted effort to copy the general colors of the PokemonGo map tiles - but really hasn't got the colors right. If anyone is interested in creating map-tiles in the same style as Pokemon Go they could do worse than to have a look at Mapbox's Design Your Own Pokemon Go Map.

This Mapbox blog post provides a little example of a Pokemon Go themed map created using Mapbox Studio. The example map even lets you fly a small bat around the world on the map.

Here are some more crowd-sourced maps showing the locations of Pokemon Go characters:

Where are the Pokemon?
Poke Radar

Pokemon GO World Map

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