If ever business owners needed proof that the next generation of Canadians love their smart phones, Pokemon Go is it.
The hugely popular game has seen adults and kids alike take to the streets to hunt down virtual characters - and use up vast chunks of data allowances in the process.
In case you haven't a clue what Pokemon Go is, it's an augmented reality game.
Players hunt down characters from the popular Pokemon series in the real world using an app on their mobile phone. The app guides players to the location of over 150 types of Pokemon creatures which are roaming wild in their neighbourhood.
And the app is eating into your mobile phone battery power and monthly data allowance every second of the hunt...
How Pokemon Go works
The Pokemon Go app shows a map of the local area and the location of the creatures, so players can go to specific places (usually public spaces) and 'find' the creatures. The creatures appear as cartoon characters on the screen thanks to a system that overlays the phone's camera view of your location with animated images of the playful little Pokemon.
Often the creatures are found around a PokeStop, a real world location or landmark. Players can also do battle with other Pokemon players and creatures at a Pokemon Gym, where players can also refuel. It also means kids playing Pokemon Go can meet other kids playing Pokemon Go in real life - how radical is that!
data usage in Pokemon go
One of the major concerns with Pokemon Go is that the app is both data and power hungry. The app uses a smart phone's GPS, camera and graphic processor to create the virtual world, and lay elements over real world images. That level of activity drains the average smart phone battery much faster than normal use.
Which, in turn, can be a good thing, as the continual use of the GPS system outside can also demolish your phone contract monthly data allowance in a matter of Pokemon-hunting days.
WIFI OR NETWORK?
Pokemon Go can be played either on wifi or using a network connection. The amount of data you require to play depends where you are playing the game, and how you are playing, with more data used for events such as battles and continual changes of location.
While some sites claim that a 1Gb data plan is sufficient for four hours of Pokemon Go play a day, some phone owners have been caught out when they go over their allowance and are charged for the extra data usage.
How to play Pokemon Go without extra data costs
So, how can you, sorry, your kids play the latest gaming sensation and not rack up extra data charges? Here are our top five 'How to play Pokemon Go without extra data costs' tips.
1. Download the app at home over wifi
Whatever you do, don't download the app, or any updates, when you're out and about. Use a wifi connection, preferably a secure one like that in your home, as it is both time and data consuming to download any new app.
2. Set a data limit
Every mobile phone plan has a data limit - even 'unlimited' actually isn't. (Look for the term 'reasonable use' in your contract.) So it's wise to set a limit of data use for Pokemon per week that is equivalent to around 20% of your monthly data plan. (Don’t allocate 25%, otherwise you won’t have any left over for other apps or usage). You can also set limits on data usage on your Android phone or with your phone provider, who will send reminders if you are approaching your limit, or prevent further use once your data limit is used up.
3. Play where wifi is free
Lots of Canadian businesses offer free wifi, so you can play using their connection and save your data allowance. Public buildings such as libraries have free wifi, as do coffee shops, malls, etc. When out and about, alternate between roaming data usage and wifi, and enable the Battery Saving option, as this will ensure your battery lasts longer too.
4. One app to rule them all
When playing Pokemon Go, make sure all other data-using apps are turned off, so your data allowance only goes towards play. If you know where you're walking to, turn the app off or at least sleep the phone until you get to that location, then resume play. That also means your nose is not glued to the screen and you can actually enjoy your surroundings more!
5. Safety in numbers
Pokemon Go involves kids heading out to explore their surroundings, which is great. However, it can lead them into areas they are unfamiliar with and sometimes into situations they never expected. Two Canadian kids accidentally strayed over the border into the USA while hunting Pokemon, and in the UK, three teenagers got stuck in a cave system. And, of course, if players have strayed a fair distance and their phone battery dies, they may be stuck for a map to find their way home again. By playing Pokemon Go in teams, kids can not only enjoy being out and about with their friends, they can also share the data costs by taking turns to detect Pokemon, save battery power, and keep safer as a group.
At Akira Studio, we like the clever use of technology, and we love the idea of thousands of Canadians finally finding out what it's like to walk around their neighbourhood in warm summer sunshine! Several of our client websites already use mapping technology to encourage people to get out and about - see our Ontario by Bike and Waterfront Trail sites. And who knows, you might even find a Wartortle or two lurking by the lakeside, or beside a woodland trail, ready to capture!