Niantic disables regular AR, adds new options to interact with Buddy without AR

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In a surprising turn of events, Niantic has decided to remove the “regular” AR mode in Pokémon GO, and focus on the more advanced AR+ mode across the app. The new changes have been announced on Twitter and on Niantic’s Support channel.

The net summary of the changes is:

  • You can only use AR+ now, and Niantic is calling it AR. This is the default Augmented Reality experience now, there is no longer a distinction between AR+ and AR
  • If your device doesn’t support AR, you are not forced to use it at all. You can even interact with your Buddy without AR now.
  • AR fast catching is gone, and the only way to fast catch is now without AR
  • Checking shiny Pokémon faster with AR on is also gone

We’ll touch on the community’s reaction in a second, let’s see first what Niantic shared in their Support article:

What’s changing with AR in Pokémon GO?

In Pokémon GO, you can use AR mode to interact with Pokémon in various ways in the real world. To reflect updates to the AR technology, the different ways in which you can use AR in Pokémon GO are also changing.

Here is what is changing for wild Pokémon encounters, Buddy Snapshot, and GO Snapshot.

Wild Pokémon Encounters

For the majority of wild Pokémon encounters, you can continue to use AR in the same manner in which you have become used to. One notable exception is encounters with certain Pokémon that previously required AR, such as Mew and Celebi, will no longer carry this requirement. 

Buddy Snapshot

Taking photos of your Buddy Pokémon will now require you to have AR enabled on your device and within Pokémon GO. If you have AR disabled, or your device doesn’t support AR, you can disable AR completely and interact with and take photos of your Buddy Pokémon against a static background. 

GO Snapshot

Taking photos of Pokémon you’ve previously caught using GO Snapshot will require AR. This applies to photos of any Pokémon in your Pokémon storage except for your Buddy Pokémon. If your device doesn’t support AR, you can disable AR to take photos of wild Pokémon. 

Community reactions

At the time of writing this article, the reactions seem to be a mixed bag, and generally they fall into two camps:

  • one part of the community praising the ability to interact with your buddy without AR,
  • while others are upset because we just lost the ability to do AR fast catches

There seems to be a lot of players on Reddit who cared deeply about AR fast catching, and understandably they are upset. If you are like me, and were not aware that you can even do this, here’s a video explaining what AR fast catching was:

There are also players who feel similar to how I feel – AR mode had it’s fair share of fun, we really got nothing by removing it. Here’s a comment by EllieGeiszler that echoes what I personally feel as well:

God, this sucks. I loved taking pictures in AR on airplanes and dark places and when I was in a hurry – places you can’t use AR+/Niantic AR. Not to mention how slow shiny checking is going to be now. I really hope they revert this.

And here’s another comment that shows just how angry some of the players are (which is really also understandable):

An update that no one asked for that manages to ruin the QOL of some players like my partner that soley caught pokemon using the now removed AR method. Kudos.

All in all, this update is a mixed bag, and we can only hope that Niantic is preparing some kind of larger update for AR mode all together, as this seems like a reduction in features, rather than an improvement.

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Zeroghan started the Hub in July 2016 and hasn't had much sleep since. A lover of all things Pokémon, web development, and writing.

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