Pokémon Go’s anticipated new buddy system rolled out over the last few days. Yesterday, everybody received access to patch 1.7 for iOS and 0.37 for Android. Now, when you walk around and collect Pokémon, you can choose a “buddy” Pokémon that acquires candy of its Pokémon type after you hit certain distance benchmarks.
Here’s how it works: Click your player icon on the bottom left of the main screen and go to the menu on the bottom right. Then, hit “buddy.” There, you’ll have the option to choose a “buddy” Pokémon. Once selected, you must walk somewhere between 1 and 5 kilometers to earn a piece of candy for that Pokémon. Bulbasaur, for example, needs to walk 3 kilometers to earn a Bulbasaur candy. A master list of buddy Pokémons’ candy-per-kilometer stats can be found here.
(To evolve a Bulbasaur into an Ivysaur, you’ll need to walk about 75 kilometers. To evolve that Ivysaur into a Venusaur, 300 kilometers should do the trick—the distance from New York City to Philadelphia and back.)
It’s like you’re Ash exploring the world with Pikachu, except (disappointingly) you can’t actually see the Pokémon following you around. The monster appears in a little icon next to your player icon, unless it’s actually Pikachu, who—true to form—does walk with you.
The buddy system solves the issue of not encountering enough unique Pokémon to evolve one you already caught. If you traveled to, say, Virginia and caught an Oddish, what if you returned home and found yourself in an Oddish desert? Now, you can assign Oddish to be your buddy, and—slowly—evolve him without needing to hunt down too many more Oddishes.
Along with the new buddy system, Pokémon Go’s latest update “made it easier to select smaller Pokémon on the screen,” fixed an issue where eggs hatched without an egg-hatching animation and added support for Pokémon Go Plus, a wrist companion accessory that lets you catch Pokémon and collect items without using your phone.