Back in September, Niantic – the company behind the Pokémon Go smartphone sensation – took the stage at an Apple event to announce that their game would be coming to the Apple Watch before the end of 2016.
Now, with just over a week left in the year, Niantic has delivered: Pokémon Go is finally available for Apple Watch, just a few days before lots of people unwrap the smartwatch on Christmas morning.
To quote directly from Niantic’s blog entry, here are the key features of Pokémon Go on Apple Watch:
- “Log each play session as a workout, with gameplay counting toward personal Activity rings” “Receive notifications about nearby Pokémon” “Count distance toward hatching Pokémon Eggs and receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokémon” “Receive notifications about PokéStops nearby and collect items from them” “Receive notifications when Eggs hatch and medals are awarded”
Of note, Niantic says that if you want to actually catch a Pokémon, you’ll still need to pull out your iPhone. It’s more of a companion, like a beefed-up and more interactive version of the existing Pokémon Go Plus wearable gadget. Niantic says that Pokémon Go’s focus on getting players out and around makes it a perfect compliment to the Apple Watch’s focus on personal fitness, just in time for New Year’s Resolution season.
On a final note, Pokémon Go on Apple Watch was the subject of a little bit of controversy in the run-up to this release: A pair of reports from 9to5Mac earlier this week suggested that Niantic had cancelled plans to build its Apple Watch app, even as it was secretly hard at work on its own wearable devices.
Today’s news directly disputes that first report, and Niantic now flatly denies that it’s building any kind of hardware. “Niantic is not working on developing a wearable device at this point in time,” a spokesperson said.