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How Pokemon Go’s New ‘Buddy System’ Works

Pokemon Go players are getting a new nudge to walk more.

Pokemon Go trainers can now choose a buddy Pokemon to join them on their adventures in the wildly popular game. In the process, the more they walk, the more opportunities they have to earn candy to help their chosen pal level up.

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Trainers will have to choose wisely. A good buddy isn't necessarily your favorite Pokemon or the cutest one. The buddy system is ideal for a Pokemon that may be a few candies short of evolving.

Image: A boy plays Pokemon Go
A boy plays Pokemon Go in New York, on Sept. 3, 2016. MARK KAUZLARICH / Reuters

Every good Pokemon trainer knows that all not Pokemon are created equal, so there will be a different distance requirement each buddy Pokemon will have to be walked in order to earn candy.

"Buddy Pokemon will appear alongside your Trainer avatar on your profile screen, adding helpful bonuses such as awarding Candy for walking together. You’ll also have the ability to change your Buddy Pokemon at any time," Niantic Labs, the maker of Pokemon Go, said in a release explaining the update.

The update encourages more walking and exploring, which is how trainers capture Pokemon. It also cuts out what could be a frustration factor for some players by giving them the chance to level up their buddy to a rare Pokemon they might not otherwise have had luck finding in the wild.

Choosing a Buddy

With the updated app, trainers can choose their buddy Pokemon by clicking on their avatar photo, opening the menu and choosing the buddy option, which will be located between "journal" and "customize."

Players can always change their buddy Pokemon. However, they'll lose all the walking progress they've made with their buddy Pokemon, so the ideal time to make the switch is right after a Pokemon has found candy.

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The update comes as Niantic Labs, the maker of Pokemon Go, announced last week at Apple's product event the game would soon be coming to the Apple Watch.

John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs, said last week the game, which was released in July, has been downloaded 500 million times.

Pokemon Go Plus, a $35 wearable is also be released this Friday, alerting users to nearby Pokemon, even when they don't have their smartphones at the ready.