Google approves open source 3rd party Pokemon Go tracker Android app into app store.
Earlier this week a new open source project launched enabling anyone to run their own Pokemon Go map server. The OpenPokeMap team has managed to release an Android app for the OpenPokeMap in the official Google Play Store. It is not clear how they managed to get their OpenPokeMap approved. Google has been removing 3rd party Pokemon Go apps in the past. The PokeRadar app is a prime example of that.
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The Google Play store has apparently changed their policy for 3rd party Pokemon Go apps as now several apps are listed including Map for Poke Radar, Go Map, Go Finder and several IV tools.
OpenPokeMap is an open-source, open-infrastructure map for Pokemon Go. The developer behind FastPokeMap is supporting the project as a "consultant." The OpenPokeMap bears a lot of similarity with the popular FastPokeMap service. Now there is a big difference with the availability of an Android App. FastPokeMap is only available in your web browser.
The OpenPokeMap site was online, but is not live as of writing this report. The open source Pokemon Go map developers also are releasing an iOS app. The just got rejected because of a minor text issue. The word "Android" was still somewhere in the description. The Apple Store has been less stringent on accepting 3rd party Pokemon Go apps. So you can expect the OpenPokeMap iOS app to appear soon in the Apple Store.
Niantic has legally shut down similar Pokemon trackers in the past. FastPokeMap is around since a while and has not been shut down. We do not know if Niantic tried to shut it down, or if they are out of reach for American lawyers. OpenPokeMap's Twitter location is in Pallet Town, where Ash Ketchum is born in the original Pokemon anime series. Being located in an imaginary city in the Pokemon story is a good start to hide from lawyers.
Running your own Pokemon map service is an enticing proposition for hard-core Pokemon Go trainers. They do not have to rely on any other service and can add custom code as they like.
Having seen the Pokemon Go in-app tracker, I believe that services like FastPokeMap will remain popular. The in-app tracker Niantic is testing in San Francisco is offering only basic functionality. There is no way to filter for Pokemon or see far away Pokemon.
Niantic has a security update in the pipeline that will stop current 3rd party code from accessing the Pokemon Go servers. Niantic has introduced the new security measures with the release of 0.37.0 and 1.7.0. Niantic has not yet enabled the new encryption as the company waits for the majority of trainers getting the upgrade installed. The switch could happen soon as Niantic just released a new update. Pokemon Go updated to version 0.39.0 for Android and 1.9.0 for iOS started to roll out on September 22.
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The new features are only small improvements. The most important change is that trainers can attempt to capture Pokémon they encounter from using Incense with the Pokémon Go Plus accessory.
Despite the reduce hype, Pokemon Go is still going strong. While many of the 500 million who have downloaded the game have stopped playing it, there are still plenty left. FastPokeMap's growth and the launch of new 3rd party projects like OpenPokeMap are a strong sign of how active the remaining trainers are.