Turn your hats backwards, Pokémon trainers: It appears the widespread launch of Pokémon GO is imminent. The augmented reality mobile game is already available on Google Play and the New Zealand App Store. Other markets should follow soon.
You might want to hold off for a little while before running for your phone or tablet, however. The Google Play page for Pokémon GO reveals some users who've updated their Android devices to Android Nougat (Android N) are having trouble getting the game to run.
It's not surprising that an app as ambitious as Pokémon GO would launch with bugs and problems. Having just closed the beta, Niantic and The Pokémon Company might've expected issues, hence the slow roll-out. That said, North America and Europe are supposed to see Pokémon GO sometime this month, so any planned fixes had best be brisk.
If you're a pioneering Pokémon GO trainer, make sure to connect with Serebii's community for the game. Early adopters are already trading tips and advice, and Serebii has a handy chart outlining available in-app purchases.
To recap, Pokémon GO isn't a traditional Pokémon game. You find and Pokémon using your smart device's GPS, then catch them by swiping your fingers on the screen to lob a Pokéball. What makes the app particularly interesting is the Pokémon's penchant for hanging out in their preferred territory, e.g. Water-type Pokémon are supposed to be more plentiful around rivers and lakes. Like many mobile augmented reality apps, Pokémon GO rewards you for getting out and exploring your neighborhood (and beyond).
The general consensus from Pokémon GO's beta testers is that the game / app is built on a solid concept, though there are definitely technical issues with the app (crashing, etc) and the battling system is kind of weak. These are issues that can be fixed over the coming weeks and months, but if the problems are overwhelming, people may just delete the app off their phones and never return. Hunting for Pokémon in real-world settings is a super-exciting concept, so hopefully Pokémon GO will really gel together in the near future.
If you've played Pokémon GO in beta or soft-launch, feel free to chime in with your thoughts. Both Kat and I will offer our impressions in the near future.