Pokémon Go Plus is a device you can wear on a wristband or as a lapel pin. It looks like a combination of a Poké Ball and the teardrop-shaped marker balloon you can drop on a map in Google Maps. Pokémon Go developer Niantic used to be owned by and was spun off from Google, and it uses Google Maps technology to run. Clever, right?
The Plus connects to your smartphone that’s running Pokémon Go via Bluetooth, and lights up and vibrates whenever you pass a PokéStop, or when a Pokémon spawns close enough that you might be able to capture it. Then, you press the button in the middle of the Plus to gather PokéStop supplies or make an automated attempt to capture the Pokémon.
Gathering materials from a PokéStop is admittedly cool. It’s easier than tapping on the PokéStop, swiping the picture, and closing the window to grab the supplies. If you’re a passenger in a car trying to hit nearby PokéStops, it’s easy to miss the PokéStop if you’re not fast enough. Maybe the Plus will be faster, and it’ll be easier to grab the PokéStops from a car.
But automatically making a capture attempt on a Pokémon sounds weird. Much of the game’s fun comes down to tossed Poké Balls and trying to make captures. The higher level your trainer is, the more difficult it is to capture Pokémon, and so you have to balance what kind of Poké Ball you’re using, and whether or not to use Razz Berries to increase the capture chance, and landing more precise shots.
That’s the skill challenge that makes Pokémon Go better than so many other smartphone games, and it all goes away if you’re using Pokémon Go Plus. You also purportedly cannot use Pokémon Go Plus to catch any species of Pokémon you haven’t already caught before. You’re more or less paying $35 to make Pokémon Go less fun, from a certain point of view.
Then again, if you’re walking around and don’t want anyone to know that you’re also playing Pokémon Go, having a Pokémon Go Plus in your pocket and surreptitiously tapping away when it vibrates means you can at least keep playing the game, kind of. Or if you don’t want to look at your smartphone when you’re jogging, Pokémon Go Plus would be useful. Again, something is better than nothing.