Pokemon GO Apple Watch release makes the game simpler

Niantic made a splash at Apple's iPhone 7 event today, showing that it has no intention of letting Pokemon mania die out. After a presentation on what's new in Watch OS 3, Niantic CEO John Hanke took the stage to announce that Pokemon GO will soon be coming to the Apple Watch, giving players an opportunity to play the game without having to constantly look at their phone's screen.

Even though players won't get a full-featured version of Pokemon GO on Apple Watch, it seems they'll be getting something close to it. When users start a workout within Pokemon GO, the app will keep track of their steps and let them know which Pokemon are nearby. It'll also tell players when a Pokemon has appeared, which is when they'll need to bust out their phone to catch it.

While you can't catch Pokemon in the Apple Watch version of Pokemon GO, you will be able to hatch eggs and visit PokeStops. The Apple Watch will alert you when you're within range of a PokeStop, and you can swipe to collect items right on the face of the watch. Just as well, you'll be able to track your progress toward hatching an egg, and the app will display the Pokemon you hatch right there on the watch face.

When your workout is finished, the app will share metrics like how many calories you've burned and your total distance. It'll also give you a run down of all the items you collect from PokeStops during your workout. Hanke says this is meant to "seamlessly blend Pokemon GO gameplay with your daily walk or run," while also announcing that Pokemon GO has been downloaded 500 million times since launch. The final statistic he shared is that players have collectively walked 4.6 billion kilometers playing the game, and with this new Apple Watch functionality, that stands to go up in the future.

Hanke didn't give a launch date for the Apple Watch version of Pokemon GO, though he did say that it will be launching before the end of the year. Stay tuned for more details.