Get the most out of the new 'Pokemon Go' buddy update
Finally, after three achingly slow days since Niantic made the update announcement, the latest version of Pokémon Go appears to have been fully rolled out in the App Store.
The main difference? Now, just like Ash and Pikachu, you can pick one of your little critters to be your "buddy" Pokémon.
How do I select my buddy?
Once you have the app, just tap the icon of your face in the bottom-left corner, then tap the menu button in the bottom right. There should be a new button — "Buddy" — sitting in between the "Journal" and "Customise" options.
The first time you click this you'll be taken to your Pokémon menu, where you'll be able to select one of them to be your buddy.
What does my buddy do?
Your buddy is basically a candy-finding machine. Once you've selected your buddy, he'll appear alongside your player icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen, complete with a little progress bar that records distance. Tapping the icon and then tapping your buddy shows you the screen pictured above, which tells you exactly how far you've walked together.
Once you've walked enough to fill the bar, your Pokémon will find a candy of its type (there have also been reports of Pokémon occasionally finding two candies at once). This is a great way of building up candy for Pokémon you don't see very often; I picked Bulbasaur, for example, because I hardly ever see the little critters and I want to store up enough candy to evolve one into a Venasaur.
Which Pokémon should I choose?
The clever thing about the buddy system is that different Pokémon require different distances in order to find candy. Common, garden-variety Pidgeys only need to be walked 1 km to find candy, for instance, whereas rarer Pokémon like Lapras require a more hefty 5 km.
The buddy you choose will depend on what your goals are: if you're aiming to quickly gain XP and level up, Pidgey is a good choice; if you want to complete your Pokédex, you'll want to select a Pokémon that has a higher evolution you still haven't caught; and if you want to beef up your existing squad, you might want to pick a high-CP Pokémon (say a Snorlax), so you can earn candy to continue powering him up.
For reference, here's a handy guide to how far each Pokémon needs to walk in order to find candy.
Any Easter eggs?
Yep. Someone on Reddit has already discovered that if you have a Pikachu buddy that finds at least 10 candies, the little guy will jump up on your shoulder on your profile screen.
It's also possible that there are other rewards out there that no one has found yet. The total distance walked by an individual Pokémon is saved even if you swap to a different buddy, which implies this statistic might be relevant in some way; maybe once you reach 100 km with one Pokémon there will be an additional bonus, for instance?
Time to get walking.