There are only a few months left (probably) before the young and young at heart will be able to live out their Pokémon fantasies in glorious augmented reality with the upcoming Pokémon GO game. But a select few will get an early ticket to Kanto (or wherever you set a Pokémon game with an entire planet's worth of playing surface). Today The Pokémon Company announced that it was looking for participants for the game's "Field Test," and registration is open on the US site. (It may be open to others, but we can't verify that.)
Field Trip is one of Google's less-known official apps (from the same people who work on Ingress), and appropriately, one of the most unique. The urban exploration app gets its 2.0 update today, bringing the user interface in line with Material Design standards introduced with Android 5.0. As nice as it is to see Google keeping its apps fresh, I have to say that the redesign takes something away in this case. Field Trip's warm texture backgrounds and custom icons were visually interesting and distinctive - the new version just looks sterile.
New above, old below
The app has jumped from version 1.22 all the way to 2.05.
Field Trip is an oddity in Google's app lineup. It comes from Niantic Labs (the people who went on to create Ingress), looks fantastic, and it's made for a very specific kind of user. The app highlights attractions of historical, cultural, and entertainment value in your immediate area, using GPS and services like Thrillist, Zagat, and Cool Hunting to create a "hyperlocal" experience. Of course, any travel app is only good if it works where you are, which was a sticking point for international users. Version 1.09 expands to more than 80 countries with support for over 30 languages.
If you've been paying attention to the news cycle lately, you've probably heard that Google—by way of the obscure "Niantic Labs"—released a game of some kind. You saw a trailer that depicted people discovering hidden energy fields within statues, landmarks, and artistic sculptures. You had no idea what was going on. You signed up for an invite anyway, because like any other weird Google product, you want in regardless of what it is. Well, I got my invite a couple days ago, and I'm happy to tell you, it's absolutely worth it.
To say that Ingress is amazing would be an understatement.
We've heard very little out of Google internal team Niantic Labs. Before today, their sole public presence was Field Trip, a mash up of Google Now and various hyperlocal points of interest. The team'' latest creation, Ingress, defies description: it's a virtual reality game in which players are tasked with going to real-world locations to harness a fictional energy source. Also there are two "teams" and every player in the world is one one or the other. Think Alliance versus Horde.
The premise seems pretty nebulous at the moment. A new source of energy has been discovered, and it's got the potential to control people's thoughts.