When the topic of Pokémon Go comes up, the typical response is, "Do people still play it?" The answer is a resounding yes!
While the game doesn't command the zeitgeist as it did at launch, it has sustained a community of players who have stuck with it over the years. Pokémon Go remains among the top ten grossing apps (not just games) on the App Store and falls just outside the top ten on Google Play. In fact, the app's best-performing year for revenue was 2020, with 2021 being the next best.
And there's so much more to do in the game now! With in-person and remote raiding, Go Battle League, Team Rocket encounters, mega evolutions, buddy interactions, seasonal content, research tasks, etc., the game is much more entertaining than it was at launch.
If you find yourself interested in getting back into the game, there are some essential companion apps to maximize your enjoyment and accomplishments.
Get Rewards for Returning to Pokémon Go
Now that you're getting back into the game after a long hiatus (at least 90 days), you'll want to get a referral code from a current player. Have your friend tap on their game avatar, followed by the "Friends" tab, and then the "Invite" button. This will give you both in-game rewards as you complete a special set of research tasks. (Note that referral bonuses are not available for child accounts.)
When you log in to Pokémon Go, you'll have the option to enter a referral code. (If you need one, here's mine: JRCXJB83Q.) This process must be done within 72 hours of returning to the game.
App 1: Campfire
Published by Pokémon Go maker Niantic, Campfire serves as a social component and extended map for all of the developer's games. You can use the messaging features to communicate with in-game friends and organize raid parties, while the map lets you view upcoming and active raids worldwide, not just in your vicinity like the game's map view.
Currently, the app is an invite-only beta, so you'll need to request an invite from a player who is among the test group. The map feature is already invaluable, but the social components will need more adoption to become helpful in organizing raids and whatnot. Luckily, there are active alternatives for matchmaking, which we'll cover in subsequent apps on this list.
App 2: Pokémon Home
An official app from The Pokémon Company, Pokémon Home lets you transfer pocket monsters you've caught in Pokémon Go to games for the Nintendo Switch.
It's also the only feasible way to evolve the mythical Meltan into Melmetal, a mighty gladiator for PvP (player versus player) and PvE (player versus environment). While you acquire Meltan through a Special Research storyline, it takes 400 candy to evolve it into Melmetal.
After you've installed Pokémon Home and connected it to your Pokémon Go account, go to Settings in Pokémon Go, then scroll down Pokémon Home. Follow the on-screen prompts to send pokémon you would otherwise discard to Pokémon Home.
Next, open Pokémon Home to complete the transfer. This will give you a special reusable incense called the Mystery Box. Open it to attract and catch Meltans.
The incense lasts an hour, but you can repeat the transfer process after a three-day cool-down period to use it again. After a few turns, you'll have enough candy to evolve Meltan into Melmetal.
App 3: Pokegenie
Every pokémon has a set of attributes that determine how powerful it is for PvP and PvE battles. The combat power (CP) measures the creature's overall strength for battle. Still, there's a hidden trio of attributes called individual values (IV) unveiled with the Appraise tool found in the hamburger menu for each pokémon. Each IV category — attack, defense, and hit points — is graded from 0–15. A pokémon with 15/15/15 is perfect (or hundo in the parlance of Go gamers), but perfect IVs for Battle League differ.
Pokegenie makes it easier to grade IVs for the pokémon you've caught, giving you an overall percentage grade and percentage grades for Battle League. The Android version includes an overlay button to scan your pokémon in the game, while iPhone players will need to take a screenshot and import it into Pokegenie for evaluation. The app offers IV Vision for constant scanning of your pokémon, but it is locked behind a subscription.
That's not all. The app also serves as a matchmaking tool for hosting and joining remote raids. Pokegenie uses Pokémon Go's friend invite system to connect players worldwide for raids and recommends your raid team based on the pokémon you've previously scanned. The app also includes reference guides for type effectiveness and move lists.
App 4: Calcy IV
For Android players, there's a highly-effective alternative for grading pokémon called Calcy IV. It offers ad-supported automatic and manual scanning for evaluating caught pocket monsters and predicting attributes during encounters, but you can also upgrade to premium with an in-app purchase. The app also offers tools for battle simulations, type effectiveness, and potential move sets.
- Play Store Link: Calcy IV (free)
App 5: Go Field Guide
This app is your one-stop resource for everything going on in the game. It tracks active and upcoming events and active game bonuses. It also contains a repository of information for current hatchable pokémon, Team Go Rocket lineups, Special Research rewards, current Ditto disguises, and much more. You can also use it to find and share friend codes.
App 6: Discord
Until Campfire truly catches fire, Discord is a top destination for organizing raids. You'll just need to find a server to join. Discord is made for gamers, and a well-organized server usually includes several channels for different game components.
App 7: Facebook Messenger
Like Discord, Messenger is helpful for organizing raids or even finding out where hundos have spawned live, but you'll have to use your own networking skills to gain access to an active group. Messenger lacks the channel support of Discord, but that's not necessarily bad when the group is focused on one purpose.
App 8: Reddit
If you can't find what you're looking for in Go Field Guide, there are several Reddit communities to crowdsource information. Highly recommended subreddits include r/thesilphroad and r/pokemongo, while r/PokemonGoFriends is an excellent destination for finding friends and matchmaking raid parties.
App 9: Twitter
Similar to Reddit, Twitter is a convenient resource for crowdsourced game info. You can get real-time game updates from the official @PokemonGoApp account, but some helpful Twitter users like @Leekduck create useful infographics for active events. You can also follow @MikeNerdlaw and his constant yet polite quest to get Cowboy Hate Caterpie added to the game.
App 10: Google Keep / Apple Notes
As you progress through the game, you may find it helpful to save certain bits of info for quick reference. For example, there's a search string to filter lower-graded pocket monsters to "transfer to the professor" and clear out your storage. I've found Google Keep indispensable for this on Android, where you can place a widget with all of the notes you've tagged for the game on your home screen.
While Google Keep is available for Android and iOS, the built-in Notes app is a better option if you have an iPhone, particularly for widgets.
- App Store Link: Notes (free)
App 11: Maps / Waze
While exploring the map view in Pokémon Go, you may find yourself unfamiliar with how to get to a pokéstop or gym. Luckily, you can view the destination's coordinates in your preferred mapping app. Campfire also has the option to navigate to a gym via your available mapping apps.
Again, Google Maps and Waze are OS agnostic, but if you're using an iPhone, you may prefer Apple's own Maps app.
- App Store Link: Maps (free)
App 12: YouTube
There are some beneficial and/or very entertaining creators devoted to the game who are worth following. Like and subscribe to videos from Zoe Two Dots, Trainer Tips, and Mystic7. The top creators often travel to in-person events like Go Fest, so you can live vicariously through them.
App 13: Twitch
Wanna learn from the pros? Twitch is the clear winner for game streams from top players. Now that Pokémon Go has gained some legitimacy in esports circles, Twitch is your destination for observing tournaments as well.
Honorable Mention: DeFit
This app has a caveat: it technically violates the game's terms and conditions. (Maybe this is actually a dishonorable mention?) However, there's a gray area regarding how the game tracks steps for hatching eggs and earning candy.
The Adventure Sync feature of the game imports your step count from Google Fit even when the game isn't active. Now, if you're exercising on a stationary bike, shouldn't that count toward your step count? Some would argue yes.
Defit emulates step counts based on a specified pace and imports them to Google Fit, which will sync with Pokémon Go. For the steps to count in the game, I'm told you need to ensure the game is closed.
- Play Store Link: DeFit (free)
The app is only available for Android. For iPhone users, there are phone rockers available for purchase that trick your device's pedometer into counting steps.
Anyway, proceed with caution from here.
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