Niantic announced the news last week using the official Pokémon Go Facebook page. The developer explained that the Nearby Pokémon feature was previously being tested in San Francisco. Moving forward, the company plans to roll it out to players in Arizona, Seattle and the rest of the San Francisco Bay area.
Pokémon Go Nearby feature: Here's how the tracking system works
The Nearby Pokémon feature gives you a list of Pokémon that are near your location. If you tap on a specific Pokémon on the list, the map will zoom in on the PokéStop that Pokémon is closest to. That should make it easier to track down rare creatures.
YouTuber Zakasaurus Rex, who lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area, posted a video that demonstrates how the new system works after receiving the Pokémon Go update.
Pokémon Go Nearby feature first impressions: It's not all good news
Zakasaurus Rex also posted a brief assessment of the Nearby Pokémon system on Reddit. He says his biggest problem with the update is how it replaces the previous "sightings" results on the main screen.
That means you have to open the Nearby Pokémon tool in order to check your sightings, which appear at the bottom of that window. So if you want to track whether or not you are getting closer to a Pokémon you're hunting, you need to repeatedly open that menu instead of getting automatic updates from the main screen.
Another member of The Silph Road, NorthernSparrow, posted a longer assessment of the Nearby Pokémon tool, digging into the issues with the new tool.
"Been testing the tracker all day in a small town but one that has quite a lot of PokéStops," writes NorthernSparrow. "I went through three stages: first super-excitement, then dawning disappointment as I realized its (large) flaws, and then a grudging acknowledgment that it did find me a couple good things."
One issue with the Nearby Pokémon tool seems to be that it does not actually show you Pokémon that are "nearby."
Sometimes you'll have to travel a bit to get to the PokéStop where a rare Pokémon is hanging out. But if you need a specific Pokémon for your attacker or defender squads, it's probably still worth the trip.
It also seems as though the Nearby Pokémon tool does not sift for rarity when showing you which Pokémon are nearby. So you may be given information on nearby common Pokémon that you might not care about catching in the first place.