What's the big fuss and how do I keep my information secure?
In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard about Pokemon Go yet, we’ve got you covered on what it’s all about and how you can stay safe while enjoying the game.
So, what is it?
Last week, the Pokemon Company launched a new app called Pokemon Go that allows users to catch pokemon by physically walking around searching for them with their smartphone. Although the app is free to download, purchases can be made in the game to buy useful items to enhance your pokemon catching skills. The app uses GPS and the camera in your smartphone to project pokemon as if you’re interacting with them in real life as augmented reality. When the user walks around with the app open, pokemon will appear to be caught.
Pokemon you catch can battle other people’s pokemon at ‘gyms’. Gyms exist at real world meeting places around you. You will be able to see where gyms exist on the GPS map on your smartphone, then you can travel to them and battle your pokemon against others. Although Pokemon Go was only released a week ago, it has become very popular in the United States and plans to make its way over to Europe as soon as the company sorts out the glitches of the game. Some people in Ireland already have access to the app if they have a U.S. apple account. But for everyone else, patience is key.
Sounds fun, now what should I do to keep myself safe?
Unlike other video games, Pokemon Go allows you to interact in real time with fellow pokemon trainers. Although the game doesn’t have voice or text chat, you are still able to interact with other players through gameplay and when battling at a gym. This means you might have interaction with more people than normal when you physically visit a gym. You might want to exercise extra caution and be sure to keep you and your device safe around others. Like always, it is smart to be aware of your surroundings and definitely not play while operating machinery. If a gym is located in an area in which you wouldn’t normally visit, it is smart to stay away. Bear in mind that you should not venture onto private property, even if there’s a gym! There will always be more pokemon to catch!
What about any issues with security?
- Stay away from websites and apps that offer “free pokecoins”- it’s possible for users to purchase pokecoins through the app with real money, some users take to the internet in search for free pokecoins. Unfortunaely, free pokecoins don’t exist! In fact, it’s a way the scammer is getting you to come to their website so they can make money off of you. The best option here is to purchase pokecoins through the original app only to ensure you aren’t being scammed.
- Scammers might ask you to share a post on social media for free pokecoins- It’s important to be aware that no matter how many times the post is shared, you will never receive free pokecoins. This is the scammers way of fooling you into sharing their post so they can gain publicity through you. Stay away from these posts and once again, purchase pokecoins only through the Pokemon Go app itself.
- Avoid downloading Pokemon Go from other marketplaces- due to the high demand of the app, scammers have created fake apps that appear to be the Pokemon Go app. If the game is not yet available in your country, don’t seek other options to download it. Patience is key here, as you could give a hacker complete access to your phone if you download their inauthentic programs.
- Install Pokemon Go updates- this is important to do often to ensure you have the most up to date software of the game. The Pokemon Company recently updated the app to remove full access of user’s google account information - so be aware of more updates in the future.
- Do not agree to anything the app asks unless you’ve read information in full- it’s important that you never agree to anything suggested by an app until you have read and understood the material fully. Scammers and attackers could disguise their page to looking authentic by adding in this feature, but you might be signing away your privacy settings.
Right, so let’s get playing!
Before you get to catchin’ ‘em all, it’s important to know that you will need to sign in with a google account or with a Pokemon Trainer Club account. If you don’t want to use your personal google account, you can create a new google account specifically for Pokemon Go. There’s no proof yet that by signing in with your google account they will have access to all of your personal information. It’s up to your discretion on which account to log in with!
While the game is ridiculously fun and addicting, you should be aware that the use of GPS and camera will drain your battery relatively fast. Your data use could also rise if you’re using Pokemon Go frequently and this could result in more charges to your phone bill. Luckily there is a “battery saver” mode to help curb your battery use. With this mode enabled, the screen will dim and the app will make fewer GPS requests when the phone is upside down in your pocket.