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'Pokémon Go' introduces Buddy Pokémon mechanic in latest update

Pokémon Go may not be as ubiquitous as it was in the weeks directly after its launch, but the game is still something of an obsession for countless fans around the world. Now, Niantic has detailed an imminent update that will introduce some highly anticipated features.

A post published on the official Pokémon Go Facebook page reveals that version 0.37.0 of the Android app and version 1.7.0 of the iOS app are currently being distributed to players. This process began over the weekend, so most users should now have been updated to the latest version.

This update to the game brings Buddy Pokémon, a feature that Niantic first announced in a blog post published earlier this month. Trainers can now choose a favorite pocket monster to follow them at all times, mimicking the way that Pikachu never left Ash Ketchum’s side in the classic Pokémon animated series.

Related: Pokémon Go hits 500 million downloads, with billions of miles walked

Allowing players to see more of a favorite companion would perhaps be enough to make the Buddy system a welcome addition to the game, but there’s a practical purpose to this feature, too. Having an active Buddy Pokémon while walking earns candy for that particular species, which can then be used to beef up stats.

The update also introduces support for the Pokémon Go Plus wearable that’s set to launch this week. The device has previously been scheduled to launch shortly after the app itself, but enormous demand and manufacturing issues prompted a delay of several weeks.

It’s good to see Niantic adding new content to Pokémon Go, but it may well be that new mechanics like the Buddy system are too little, too late. While it’s clear that players want to be able to do more with their monsters, taking their favorites for a walk in order to earn candy is a relatively small addition, considering the game has been out for over two months.