'Pokémon Go' Guide: Tips and tricks for using the Nearby feature in Gen 2

Pokémon Go

Welcome, new Pokémon Go trainers of 2017. It's time to make sure you know precisely how to become the best Pokémon trainer in the world.

Pokémon Go is a game about walking around in the real world and hunting Pokémon. Developer Niantic has created a Pokémon Go feature called "Nearby" that gives you an idea as to where the Pokémon are hiding and shows you which direction to walk in.

By knowing where to capture Pokémon, you can focus on hunting the better creatures in the game. This is the first step in learning how to become a master trainer in Pokémon Go. So, let's get started.

Pokémon Go update guide: How to use the Nearby feature

If you're beginning your Pokémon Go career in 2017, you have one benefit players from July might have killed for. The current incarnation of the "Nearby" feature, which evolved from the Sightings system Pokémon Go originally offered, gives you some very precise information about where to find nearby Pokémon.

Earlier versions of the Sighting tool used a footprint icon to express how far away a Pokémon was from the player's position in the real world. You would look at Pokémon on the Sightings screen and see one, two or three footprint icons, ostensibly denoting their distance from you.

The problem, however, was that players had no idea which direction to move. In JulyPokémon Go players measured and determined three footprints equaled a distance of approximately 84 meters. Assuming that's correct, imagine finding a 275-foot search radius for a Pokémon and having no idea in what direction to walk. Frustrating! Fortunately, there's a fix in the new year.

Photo Discs in Pokémon Go appear on a PokéStop's detail screen. If you slide your finger across the photo and "spin" it, you earn supplies with which to play the game.  Niantic/The Pokémon Company/Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go update guide, tips and tricks: PokéStops are the key to the Nearby feature

When you tap the white bar in the bottom right-hand corner of the Pokémon Go map, it brings up the Nearby menu. The Nearby menu shows images of PokéStop photo discs, with pictures of Pokémon in front of them.

The current Nearby system in Pokémon Go matches Pokemon to PokeStop locations, which is a very specific piece of information.  Niantic/The Pokémon Company/Pokémon Go

Each photo disc corresponds to a local PokéStop. Click on one of the photo disc images to return to the Pokémon Go map and see the PokéStop in question highlighted with a pink footprint icon.

Are either of these "nearby" PokéStops actually nearby? What if the closest PokéStop is still a distance away?  Niantic/The Pokémon Company/Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go update Gen 2 issues: The problem with the Nearby feature 

The footprint system still exists within Pokémon Go and represents a relative distance. Unfortunately, we still don't know exactly what distance those footprints represent. You may see the icon attached to PokéStops that are close by or far away, which can be pretty annoying if you desperately need to catch a specific Pokémon.

Pokémon Go can't seem to get away from footprint icons, where Pokémon tracking systems are concerned!  Niantic/The Pokémon Company/Pokémon Go

The current tracking or Nearby system in Pokémon Go at least shows a definite place to begin your search for a specific Pokémon. However, if you don't have time to travel to a PokéStop highlighted by the Nearby system because it's too far away, then the information won't do you any good.

More Pokémon Go news, tips, tricks and updates

If you're ready to celebrate your Pokémon Go holiday, you may also want to check out Mic's other Pokémon Go content. Here are guides on how to catch Gen 2 baby Pokémon, the 98 Gen 2 Pokémon that have yet to be added to the game, how to catch Pikachu and his adorable new Christmas hat, our analysis of post-update Chansey and Rhydon, everything you need to know about finding the long-awaited Pokémon Ditto, how to create new PokéStops, how to maximize your chances of catching Pokémon and how PokéStops distribute Pokémon eggs.