"Pokemon Go" has now added an "AR + encounter mode" with its version 1.57.5 update, following the release of Gen. 3 Pokemon and November's big update. This update is currently only available for iOS users, and there is no information as of now on when Android users will get this feature, if ever. This decision is likely to make Android users upset, as it makes some significant changes to the catching mechanics.

AR + features

The game now allows you to square off against and capture Pokemon that are both lifesize and fixed to a real-world location, as opposed to previous versions of the game, where the Pokemon's location was fixed to wherever you pointed your phone.

This adds the challenge of needing to remain wherever you found the Pokemon in order to capture it.

Added to this is the ability for Pokemon to sense your presence, using the iPhone's accelerometer. The Pokemon all have an "awareness meter" which looks like a speech bubble with an exclamation point. If the bubble fills up red, then the Pokemon will become aware of your presence and run away. This means that catching the Pokemon will require stealth, moving slowly and holding your phone steady. These components all add a new level of difficulty which could make the game more interesting.

A step in the right direction?

"Pokemon Go" has been struggling for more than a year now to regain the popularity it had during its height.

It was the fastest growing app of the summer of 2016, and it was almost impossible to not see someone playing it. It was filled with problems from day one, but these problems were ignored at first under the assumption that they would be fixed eventually. However, most of these issues remain unaddressed, such as trading Pokemon and PvP battles, not to mention the disaster that was the Pokemon Go Fest.

With this "AR +" update, the question now is whether that will be enough to draw people in or keep them satiated long enough for future updates. Niantic has said that elements like trading and PvP battles are "on the roadmap," but a statement like that is so vague, and its been so long since these concepts were first talked about, that it's not hard to see why someone would assume they will never see them.

Also, the fact that this update is exclusive to iPhone users only leaves Android users feeling left out.

With all of this being said, "AR +" does make interesting changes to the catching mechanic, turning it into a more engaging process. It also sends a good message to those who are holding out for more updates. It shows that Niantic has not given up on "Pokemon Go" yet, so there may be hope for more.