Pokémon GO shares much more of its DNA with Niantic's first AR game, Ingress, than it does with Game Freak's actual Pokémon adventures. One of the biggest problems with this arrangement is that it's necessary to sacrifice weaker Pokémon in order to make favored specimens stronger. As a result, Pokémon GO feels far more impersonal than its handheld-based counterparts.
But extensive data mining efforts by Pokémon GO fans "AeonLucid" and "elfinlazz" reveals a future update may introduce mechanics to make the Pokémon GO experience a little warmer – and a little easier.
To make the reams of data simple: The "Buddy System" appears to let you walk with a favorite Pokémon in order to earn candy, not unlike how we currently walk around to hatch eggs (or attach our phones to our dogs, ceiling fans, or whatever gets the job done).
There's also some indication your buddy Pokémon will appear on or near your avatar when you're out for walkies. The Pokémon may walk next to you, fly beside you, or rest on your shoulder. Presumably, the critters' riding positions is size-dependent. This should add value to the team leaders' analysis of your Pokémon's sizes beyond the dirty jokes we currently put into their mouths ("Your SCHLONG is the smallest we have on record. Astounding").
It's looking like you can only earn a certain amount of candy in a day, and you can only walk one Pokémon at a time. Still, if things flesh out the way the data mining indicates they might, it'll be a very welcome partial fix to Pokémon GO's deeply flawed levelling-up system. Currently, growing and evolving your Pokémon requires feeding them species-based candies that are primarily acquired by catching and "transferring" Pokémon of the same species. If a Pokémon is rare in your particular area, it can be very difficult to harvest the candy necessary to strengthen and evolve them. For example, I have one Growlithe but zero Arcanines due to candy scarcity. This is unacceptable.
It'll also be nice to bond with favorite Pokémon, since our cold, detached interactions with them is one of Pokémon GO's biggest shortcomings. Now, if there was just an easier way to get stardust, there'd be less reason to throw Pikachu into the candy grinder whenever we catch one with stronger combat power.
Pokémon GO's mined data indicates the Buddy System may be implemented with the next update, so we'll see how it plays out soon enough. In the meantime, just picture millions of Pokémon GO avatars dragging legions of leashed Magikarp across the pavement. As we all know by now, the road to evolving a Gyrados is long and paved with candy.