New in v0.95.3: Account linking, Quests, Spinda’s Variants, 2 new moves, and… PokeStop Submissions?

After the announcement that Facebook account linking would now be possible in v0.95.3, we weren’t expecting much else under the hood in the latest APK.  Boy were we surprised!

We’ve taken a look through the silent changes in the latest update and have found some exciting hints and clues to what the future holds for our travelers.

Let’s dive in!


New & Amazing

Let’s not delay gratification this time – here’s the best parts first!

1. Get Ready to Meet a New Pokemon: Spinda!

A whole new species has been discovered in the APK this round: Spinda!

The quirky ‘spot panda’ normal-type Pokemon Spinda was introduced in Gen III and has one very interesting characteristic: Spindas are said to have unique spot patterns!

An exciting clue has appeared in the metadata that points to a special handling of the panda-mon: 8 variants have been added to the species dictionary!  We’re excited to see what might cause these variants to differ in wild encounters soon.

2. Two New Moves! (Well, Technically 5!)

In preparation for the March 25th Community Day, the move Frenzy Plant was added to the APK, alongside its visual effects.

But in a surprise addition, another move has also appeared: Weather Ball!

This is a signature move of Castform – and it’s a bit of a special case as well. Weather Ball is a normal type move, but will change its type depending on the weather!  In the main-series games, the following weather conditions affected the move:

  1. Clear or Fog: Normal-type
  2. Sunny: Fire-type
  3. Rain: Water-type
  4. Hail: Ice-type
  5. Sandstorm: Rock-type

The following appearances in the APK suggest that this may be closely followed.

  • V0292_MOVE_WEATHER_BALL_FIRE
  • V0293_MOVE_WEATHER_BALL_ICE
  • V0294_MOVE_WEATHER_BALL_ROCK
  • V0295_MOVE_WEATHER_BALL_WATER

Battling with Castform may soon become an exercise in reading the skies!

3. Another Hint at Quests!

Though the APK still remains largely scrubbed of Quest-related clues, one clue has finally slipped back in this round:

  • ACTIVITY_CATCH_QUEST_POKEMON_ENCOUNTER

This new ‘activity’ attribute joins other “catch” activities like:

  • ACTIVITY_CATCH_FIRST_CATCH_OF_DAY
  • ACTIVITY_CATCH_AR_PLUS_BONUS
  • ACTIVITY_CATCH_CURVEBALL

…and others.  It certainly appears that at least some quests may involve catching Pokemon – and the game will now recognize this event as relating to a current quest!  We can’t wait to see more clues about this leaked feature soon.

4. PokeStop Submissions … in Pokemon GO?

As if the aforementioned additions weren’t exciting enough, a new POI management system has just appeared in the APK.  In plain English, this means a tool to submit the points of interest that power PokeStops in Pokemon GO and `portals` in Ingress.

There’s no indication yet whether this feature will ever be enabled in Pokemon GO, or if this is simply a new Niantic platform tool.  But our suspicion is that this is the beginnings of a POI-submission system for Pokemon GO players.

The attributes the system collects are:

  • Long description
  • Image
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Image Serving URL

Points of interest also appear to have two states: COMPLETED and COMPLETED_AND_REASSIGNED along with various error states, hinting at a review and perhaps even a delegation process.  Those familiar with Operation Portal Recon, the Ingress POI-submission initiative, may find parallels between these interfaces.  We imagine any new POI submission process in Pokemon GO will be an extension of OPR.

This could be a huge advancement in the game for Pokemon GO players in POI-sparse areas, but will come with major challenges for Niantic!


Smaller Changes & Additions

5. Major Account Linking Additions & Overhaul

Many large changes and additions now appear reflecting the new ability of the app to ingest and link Facebook and Google accounts.  This is now possible due to what appears to be a new central authentication component of Niantic’s making, which can support multiple authentication types per user.

This has also re-written some of the account banning code, though the effect of these changes is not yet clear.

6. Daily KM’s Walked Now Tracked

A new attribute appeared which tracks the number of kilometers walked in the past day: KmWalkedPastActiveDay

Might this be used in new Quest objectives?

7. New ‘Event Move’ Attribute

The new attributes EventQuickMove and EventCinematicMove have now appeared in the APK, perhaps hinting that these moves may be called out in new ways visibly moving forward soon.  Regardless, the app now distinguishes these on the backend!

8. New Multiplier: Escaped Bonus

In a puzzling but exciting finding, the following attributes have appeared, hinting at a new bonus multiplier:

  • EscapedBonusMultiplierMax
  • EscapedBonusMultiplierByExcellentThrow
  • EscapedBonusMultiplierByGreatThrow
  • EscapedBonusMultiplierByNiceThrow

Might this be a new multiplier that takes effect once a Pokemon breaks out (‘escapes’) from a ball? If so, it appears that breaking out of Excellent throws is handled differently than lower-accuracy throws.

This could be a fantastic way to reward those consistently throwing Great or Excellent throws – but who still have a Pokemon frustratingly break out.  A way, in essence, to improve the dice roll of a Pokemon catch with skill!

 


Parting Words

 

Many other smaller changes (and even a few potential clues) were found in our review this round, but these are eclipsed by the exciting news of what is confirmed to be on deck!

We’ll continue monitoring some of the more mysterious additions to this APK and will likely have more to share on these when we’re able to cross-reference the future APK.

In the meantime, we’re excited to see how Spinda variations are handled when this Pokemon makes its appearance, and are very anxiously monitoring the potential POI-submission system added to the codebase.  See if you can notice improved odds after Great and Excellent throw breakouts, travelers!  No word on whether this multiplier is live yet, but this could be a game-changer with tough Raid bosses.

Niantic has been on a roll lately. It’s amazing that account linking (which has been asked for by nearly all PTC account users for over a year) isn’t even the most exciting part of this APK.  The future is bright – and we can’t wait to travel the Road with you through 2018.

Travel safe,

– Executive Dronpes –