Niantic Labs’ field test version of Pokémon GO doesn’t have communication capabilities for Trainers, but one guy made a free chat app for it.
Jonathan Zarra, CEO and senior developer for mobile device software company Tethr, recently contacted us about his latest project called GoChat. Released yesterday on the Google Play store for Android users, the chat app allows Pokémon GO field testers to communicate with one another while on the hunt for their favorite pocket monsters.
“I had a bit of code that I had originally planned on using for another project,” Zarra told us today. “I became so passionate about making this happen that I actually ended up quitting my job to work on this full time. I’d say it took me a solid month to get everything up and running smoothly from initial development to its Google Play store release.”
Tethr is currently developing an iOS version of GoChat and it’s expected to launch soon, according to Zarra, who also provided a brief overview of how his application works:
“At this point in time there is currently no open API (Application Program Interface) for Pokémon GO. [GoChat] allows allows users to post to specific locations and their posts are saved to that exact spot. Users who are nearby can see their posts and message them directly from it. It’s awesome for being able to let others know you want to team up — there are specific Pokémon in certain areas, gyms, items, trading, etc.”
While the chat app has only been available for one day, Zarra said the server logs show signs of people already joining teams and chatting with the other field testers. “It’s super cool,” he said.
And even if Niantic decides to incorporate a chat feature into the final version of Pokémon GO, Zarra will continue to work on it. “As long as I offer great features that people genuinely can make use of and like, I’m sure they’ll find the app useful,” he said. “Niantic’s other game, Ingress, had some sort of in-game chat functionality, but people mostly just used third-party chat programs because they were done better.”
Zarra isn’t expecting his chat application to make money. In fact, he’s working on this project purely out of his passion for Nintendo and Pokémon, and he doesn’t plan on adding any type of in-app advertisements.
“I’d like to build a community of people who love the game just as much as I do and make the best possible experience for all of us to connect and interact as much as possible. I think the app goes hand-in-hand with the game so far, and I would love to improve it any way I can.”
“I’m not releasing any information about the beta or changing the game itself in anyway,” he explained. “I also made sure not to use any copyrighted or trademarked stuff.”