The safe way to go Pokémon GO hunting

Pokémon GO is a gaming phenomenon, and it has opened up huge possibilities for AR (augmented reality) type games. For those who may not have heard yet, Pokémon GO is revolutionizing gaming by drawing millions of new players into the great outdoors. The premise of the game is to physically find and collect all the virtual pocket monsters (Pokémon), and to “be the very best” by battling their Pokémon against each other to control “Gyms,” which are sought-after contested spaces. You can collect special items at various points of interest only by physically being there, within feet, of these markers (called PokeStops).

It’s a whole new experience, and many people young and old are found gathering in plazas, parks, churches and schools across the country into the late evening hours.

It’s great to see kids actually wanting to go outside and explore their cities. But while the game draws people outdoors, it can also have a negative effect on the awareness of one’s surroundings, especially when your eyes are glued to the screen. Police departments across the country have started issuing safety tips for playing the game.

As a software test engineer at Life360 and a Pokémon GO player, it has been heartening to see our app used by quite a few families and among groups of friends as a way to stay connected and aware of their surroundings.

Life360 provides families and friends with a way to privately see each other’s location, know if they need help, and see threats around them. It’s free for iPhone and Android.

There are a few ways to use Life360 in conjunction with Pokemon GO. Once you have created a Life360 account, create a Circle for your family and a separate Circle for your friends who are playing Pokémon GO. Make sure everyone you invite to your Circle downloads the app and accepts your invite so you can see each other’s locations.

When a member of your Circle goes out hunting, try these safety tips in the Life360 app:

1) Add a Place to the location your friend or family member is headed. This uses Life360’s geo-fencing technology, so you’ll get an automatic alert when they arrive or leave that area.

2) Ask them to Check In when they arrive at a location they plan to stay. Then you can view easily on the map where they are, or set up a Places alert for that location and get notified when they leave.

3) As they move to other locations (such as a PokeStop with a Lure — an area where multiple Pokémon appear for 30 minutes), you can request a Check In when they arrive.

4) Use in-app messaging to share updates instantly with everyone in your Circle. Plan a meeting point to start your Hunt, or notify others in your group when you spot a rare Pokémon so they can rush to your location.

5) Parents can also create a Place alert for their home, to make sure their kids aren’t sneaking out without permission to play and to be automatically notified if that happens.

Aside from the safety benefits of using Life360 as a companion app to Pokémon GO, there are some other awesome uses we’ve discovered:

  • Use Life360 for what Pokémon GO lacks: a map where you can zoom and pan to view your favorite PokeStops and Gyms.
  • Add a Place pin to where you’ve battled your way to the top of a Gym. You can go back there later if you need to reclaim it.
  • Tell your friends where they can find Charmander, Pikachu, or Bulbasaur by dropping a Place pin in that location. They only show up in some areas and are very rare in others.
  • Check In at your favorite PokeStops, so you know when your team gets there so you can go back to the same places next time.
  • View all the places you’ve been hunting by pulling up your location history in Life360. Sometime’s it’s hard to remember where that hotspot is where you caught your best Pokémon for the night.
  • Want to achieve extra-elite expert-trainer level? Pokémon GO has already announced that they will release a new trading feature. Make a list of Pokémon you want or Pokémon you have up for trading. That list is automatically shared with your team. If each trainer makes their own trading list, you will be ahead of the game once the trading feature is released!

What apps are you using with your family and friends to make Pokemon Go Hunting better and more fun?

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