It has only been a week since the official release of Pokémon Go – an augmented-reality smartphone game that lets you catch pokémon, or fantasy creatures of all shapes and sizes, in the real world – but its impact has been overwhelming.
While the global rollout has been slow, the game has already spawned countless memes, news reports, and crazed fans that congregate in the hundreds all in search of shiny new pokémon.
The overnight success of the game has added billions of dollars to parent company Nintendo’s market value, perfect timing, really, as the Pokémon franchise celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
With many playing the game for the first time, we thought we’d put together a cheat sheet for everyone wanting a quick and easy guide to the wonderful world of Pokémon. 20 tidbits, one for every year of Pokésitence.
1. Pokémon is short for pocket monsters or Pokétto Monsutā in Japanese. In Katakana, it is written ポケットモンスタ, which literally means, “monsters in our pocket” – because, as we all know, you catch and store pokémon in pocket-sized containers called Poké Balls.
2. The first Pokémon games were Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green (Pokémon Red and Blue in the US). They came out in 1996 on the Nintendo Game Boy. Despite their colorful names, the games were initially played in black and white. Pokémon Go brings gameplay to the real world, sorta. Using your smartphone’s camera, you can track down and catch pokémon as if they were right in front of you. How crazy exciting is that?
3. Pokémon Go was released by the Pokémon Company in celebration of its 20th anniversary this year (2016). The game runs on both iPhones and Android phones. In just a week, the app has been downloaded more times than Tinder and has more daily active users than Twitter.
4. The Pokémon franchise includes over 70 games (including spinoffs), 19 movies, a long-running TV series, and a trading card game.
5. There were only 151 original pokémon. But hundreds more were introduced (discovered) with every new generation. There are 721 pokémon today. Bulbasaur is pokémon number 1, Volcanion is number 721. Expect a few hundred more to be added to the list when Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are released this November.
6. While the original theme song for the Pokémon TV show is “Gotta Catch ‘Em All,” you can’t catch all pokémon. There are a handful of mythical pokémon that are only available via special events; some require being at a certain place during a specific time period. In celebration of Pokémon’s 20th anniversary, mythical pokémon are distributed every month (of 2016) via the internet and in-store cards.
7. Speaking of catching them all, while the popular phrase (and song lyric) appears to describe the objective of all Pokémon games, there’s more to the games than just collecting. As the song goes, “To catch them is my real test; to train them is my cause.” The best pokémon trainers know that to defeat other trainers, it is important to know your pokémon and how best to train them.
8. Now, let’s say you’ve started collecting pokémon. How do you identify and keep track of them? With the Pokédex of course. Given to players at the start of every game, the Pokédex is a digital almanac of sorts, which serves as a database of all pokémon you’ve caught. Similar to smartphones, we’ve seen an evolution of Pokédex design. The current model has a touch-screen panel and a Mission Impossible-like transparent screen for scanning pokémon.
9. Pokémon names differ in countries like Japan, Germany, and France. Jigglypuff, for example, is called Purin in Japan, which is literally a fluffy, wobbly custard pudding dessert, just like the character.
10. The most iconic of all the pokémon has to be Pikachu, the cuddly yellow creature with pointy ears. While there has been plenty of speculation as to what kind of creature Pikachu is, overwhelming evidence suggests Pikachu is actually a mouse, not a cat, as some assume.
11. Some pokémon take several forms. In the games, Pikachu evolves into the more powerful Raichu if you give it a Thunder Stone. Pikachu also has a pre-evolution form called Pichu, which evolves into Pikachu only when it has reached a certain level of friendship with its trainer.
12. One pokémon in particular, Eevee, can evolve into 8 different pokémon, depending on a variety of factors: the type of evolution stone used; the time of day; its surroundings and more. Eevee can become Flareon (fire), Vaporeon (water), Jolteon (electric), Espeon (psychic), Umbreon (dark), Leafeon (grass), Glaceon (ice), or Sylveon (fairy). Will the upcoming games introduce a new Eevee type? We hope so!
13. You heal worn out pokémon at Poké Centers, buy items at Poké Marts, and battle opponents at Poké Gyms. There’s a real-life Poké Gym in Osaka, Japan. And in Pokémon Go, Poké Stops are where you can pick up items like Poké Balls.
14. Most pokémon have a gender, either male or female, and can be bred. Female pokémon lay eggs, which eventually hatch when you carry them around long enough. If you don’t have two pokémon of opposite genders, the genderless Ditto can step in and breed with most (not all, as some pokémon don’t breed).
15. Ash is the protagonist in the Pokémon anime. In Japan, fans know him as Satoshi, a clear reference to Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. There’s a theory that everything currently happening in the Pokémon TV show (now over 800 episodes strong, and still airing) is only taking place in Ash’s dream. In the very first episode, which aired in 1997, Ash was electrocuted by Pikachu. Some believe this placed him into a coma, hence the super-long dream, and thus explaining why Ash hasn’t aged one bit even after 19 years.
16. In the third episode of the Pokémon TV anime, there was an earthworm. Non-pokémon creatures appear very rarely in the show. You can see it at the 9:38 mark.
In the episode, Pidgeotto is seen eating an earthworm.
17. The pokémon regions in the game are actually based on real locations. Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh are all places in Japan. There’s also Unova in the US, Kalos in France, and the new region, Alola in Hawaii.
18. Here’s how some of your favorite pokémon got their names: Ekans and Arbok are Snake and Kobra spelled backwards; Koffing and Weezing’s were originally going to be called NY and LA because of the heavy pollution in those US cities; Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee are named after Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee; Abra, Kadabra, and Alakazam’s US names are based on the magic chant “abracadabra”; Alakazam’s Japanese translation is Foodin, likely a homage to the great magician, Harry Houdini.
19. Filipino singer and actor Billy Crawford sang the theme song for the first Pokémon movie released in 1998. The movie’s soundtrack includes songs from Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, N*SYNC, M2M, and 98º Degrees, but Billy really was the very best back then, like no one ever was.
20. Meowth is the only pokémon that can talk (we’re not including legendary pokémon that communicate with humans using telepathy). He taught himself how to talk to impress a female Meowth. Smooth.
This feature was a collaboration between Michael Josh Villanueva, Jv Ruanto, Chay Lazaro. Michael Josh still plays Pokémon on his Nintendo DS, Chay grew up on the TV show and playing cards, and Jv… well let’s just say we would have believed it if he said he wrote the entire Bulbapedia.
[irp posts=”7858″ name=”Pokémon Sun and Moon out now”]
Google’s Emoji Kitchen will mash-up your favorite emojis
Rolling out on Gboard
Do you know that Merriam-Webster adds new words to the dictionary every year? Do you also know that the Unicode Consortium adds new emojis to everyone’s devices every year? Such is the way of language. New ways to communicate will always emerge out of nowhere. Usually, they form whenever two things combine into an all-new form. It’s easy enough to combine words together, but how do you do that with emojis?
Google is developing a way to fuse emojis into new ones. In an official blog post, the Android developer announced the new feature called Emoji Kitchen. A feature of Gboard, Emoji Kitchen unlocks a plethora of new emojis. How about a cowboy ghost? Or a crying robot? Or a kissing poop face?
Prior to the Emoji Kitchen, users already received access to emoji variants in the past. Today, you can select different skin tones for human emojis. With the Emoji Kitchen, you can mix existing ones with each other. Likewise, users can access the feature automatically by opening compatible emojis. Opening the cowboy emoji sub-menu, for example, will open up its different variants.
Naturally, Emoji Kitchen will combine only existing emojis. In other words, you can’t create an all-new emoji from nothing. All new emojis come from Google’s own designers. Still, the feature’s new combinations will come in handy. Especially when I feel like a… monkey cactus?
Emoji Kitchen is slowly rolling out to Gboard users starting today. If you don’t want to wait for an official version, you can sign up for the Gboard Beta program for instant access.
Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo joins Huawei’s effort to build a Play Store alternative
Preparing for a Google-less future
Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo recently collaborated with Huawei to build the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). GDSA aims to create a single app store aimed at simplifying app uploads and downloads for developers and consumers.
At first glance, GDSA seems like a competitor for Google’s Play Store. Over the years, the rising hostility of the US towards Chinese tech companies led to tariffs and outright ban from using its technologies. For example, Huawei suffered an entity ban last 2018 due to suspicions of spying for the Chinese government.
Such precedence may have stoked fear among other Chinese companies that a ban could be leveraged by the US in the future. Dependence on Western technologies is crucial for these companies. As such, a ban would represent a great loss, considering that most of these companies have established markets in many countries.
To counter this scenario, these tech companies are slowly building their own alternatives to established apps and services. Huawei, for its part, had already pushed out AppGallery as an alternative to Google’s Play Store. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have their own app stores in China due to a continuing ban on Google’s services in the country.
A unified app store
A unified app store will greatly simplify the process for developers who have to deal with these multiple app stores. GDSA will unify the backend of these app stores so developers can publish once and have their apps appear on the brands’ respective app stores.
For now, details about GDSA are scarce. Pilot countries for its deployment include 9 key regions including India, Russia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A prototype website has been set up, but developers cannot sign up for it yet.
But if GDSA really pushes through, Google will face some serious competition on Android app distribution. Furthermore, the issue of fragmentation will only deepen in the ecosystem as companies build their own version of Google apps.
Xiaomi already responded with a statement stating that they have no plans to position GDSA as a Play Store competitor. The company reiterated GDSA’s function to simplify the app uploading process. Furthermore, there was no mention of Huawei in their statement.
Huawei and Google have yet to release a statement. However, it is clear that Google will not welcome this development. Considering that Google has an iron grip on app store distribution outside China, a viable competitor will only compel the American company to further control the Android ecosystem.
With a tightening grip on Android, other tech companies will only intensify their efforts to build an alternative OS. Huawei, as an example, launched HarmonyOS for its devices in the future.
An alternative app store will also open up another potential avenue for hackers targeting users with malware. This will only contribute to security and privacy problems in Android, which has long been dealing with notorious malware and data breaches.
Grab Philippines ordered to suspend in-car recording and selfie verification
Due to violations in the Data Privacy Act of 2012
Last year, Grab Philippines tested new features to ensure passenger and driver safety. These new features are in-car audio and video recording, as well as selfie verification.
However, the country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) ordered Grab to halt the rollout of these features. The commission stated that those features pose a privacy risk to passengers. A cease and desist order released by NPC cites violations within the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which governs the privacy and security of all digital data on the country.
NPC also stated in its Notice of Deficiencies that the ride-sharing company failed to assess the new features’ risk to passengers, taking only into account “the risk faced by the company”.
The notice also noted that there is no clear mechanism for informing passengers when recorded data gets sent to authorities. It also found out that there is ambiguity in opting out of recording.
As such, NPC gave Grab 15 days to address the deficiencies it found for both in-car recording and selfie verification. This is surely a welcome move for ensuring passengers’ privacy. However, the question remains on what measures Grab will implement in the future to protect its passengers’ safety.
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