The latest Pokémon Go update is blocking iOS and Android devices that have been jailbroken or rooted in a bid to further clamp down on 'cheating' with bots and scrapers. Here's what you need to know about the latest changes, how bots like Necrobot work, and what you should consider before using one to visit Pokéstops, evolve Pokémon, or level up on your behalf.
What is a Pokémon Go bot?
In short, bots are fake Pokémon trainers. Pokémon Go players can employ a bot as a means of levelling up in the game without actually putting in any effort themselves.
A bot controls a player’s account. It moves around, catches Pokémon, hatches eggs, and visits Pokéstops in the same way a real person would, just without subjecting the user to physical exertion.
The constant playing gives trainers who deploy bots an obvious advantage when it comes to levelling up and filling their Pokédex. But they do so at their own risk as Niantic has started cracking down on bot users, often permanently banning them from the game.
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How are Pokemon Go bot users being caught?
As part of a new crackdown, Niantic has confirmed that jailbroken and rooted devices aren't supported by Pokémon Go.
According to reddit, Niantic is using the Android SafetyNet API – a Google-designed tamper detection layer that's also central to Android Pay security – to help identify Pokémon Go users with rooted Android devices.
That's in addition to its ongoing monitoring of unusual in-game activity, though it's unclear at the moment if you play the game cleanly but have a jailbroken or rooted device for other reasons whether or not you're being locked out.
Are there any workarounds?
There may or not already be a workaround for Android, with some users reporting success applying the Magisk system mask (originally design as a solution for using Android Pay with rooted devices). You can learn more over on XDA Developers.
As always, if you flash this ROM to your handset or tablet you do so entirely at your own risk.
How many Pokémon Go bots are there?
There are numerous bots doing the rounds but the current favourite is Necrobot. Developed by the Necrobot community, the free bot is capable of doing everything that a Pokétrainer would. It catches and evolves Pokémon, transfers the unwanted, lower-level critters to Professor Willow, and even farms Pokéstops.
Another popular choice is MyGoBot, which claims to be the world's leading Pokémon Bot – although it only supports Windows and charges users after a three hour grace period. There's also PokéBuddy, but if its GitHub issue log is anything to go by, it's probably worth avoiding.
Is it easy to set up?
A little graft and some computing knowledge seems necessary, as the following video shows. Be warned before you try installing a Pokémon Go bot, however. It could end up with you being banned from the game if you get it working and Niantic cottons on, plus there's no way to guarantee the process is safe to follow. But if you're intrigued to see what it takes to get Necrobot working, here's one quick demonstration:
How do they work?
The bot aims to be as human-like as possible. Players can set the walking speed (many suggest nothing above 25km/h or Niantic will start to get suspicious) and also a geographic location.
The kids call this ‘GPS spoofing’, and it allows a user to transport themselves to a different location in any country, thereby helping them snare new and exotic critters. Again, you've got to be careful, as Niantic is apparently starting to notice big jumps in player locations.
Sick of walking around and getting exercise? Bots will help, but could get you banned
The bots claim to be highly customisable and players can determine how they use their items, including eggs and Pokémon, to maximise XP growth.
Sounds a little like cheating – are Pokémon Go bots allowed?
It is cheating and it almost certainly isn’t allowed, but that hasn't stopped those determined to play dirty.
The repercussions can be massive for Pokétrainers, and likely involve being banned from the game altogether, as developer Niantic considers it a breach of the terms of service and continues to implement new safeguards.
As if that wasn't bad enough, you’ll also bring the wrath of the hard-working Pokémon Go community upon yourself, who (like ourselves) definitely consider this cheating.
In all then, using a bot is by no means safe or sanctioned. Niantic's terms and conditions now clearly state so that anyone using bots is now in direct violation of the game rules and could face a permanent ban. That doesn't mean you can't take advantage of bots, but you risk losing your account permanently every time that you do.
Ultimately, we'd recommend actually playing and enjoying the game – in short, following the rules.
Watch: Hands-on with Pokémon Go
Have you tried a Pokémon Go bot? If so, how did you get on? Let us know in the comments.