Is Pokemon GO safe to play & Why does it need so...

Is Pokemon GO safe to play & Why does it need so many phone permissions?

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Pokemon GO Warning Screen Loading Page

For those who haven’t played Pokemon GO yet, but have heard about it, it’s either because people have been talking nonstop about it for a week, or because they’ve read some of the eyebrow-raising stories on various news stories.

Armed robberies, injuries, stabbings and even the discovery of a dead body, all connected with the new augmented reality smartphone game that is Pokemon GO.

Understandably, that probably leaves you with some concerns about becoming a Pokemon trainer.

But, is Pokemon GO actually safe to play?

In short, yes. Just as safe as you would be walking around the location you’re in without Pokemon GO.

There have been many news stories about some of the disastrous consequences Pokemon GO have had so far, with one of the earlier articles warning users that they could be robbed.

This was after armed robbers in Missouri used the app to lure people to a secluded area, where players would find four 16 to 18 year olds with a gun, rather than a Pidgey and some Pokeballs.

The four deviants were all detained, and a spokesperson from the local police department said: “You can add a beacon to a PokeStop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”

Pokemon GO Map

In more recent news, 22 year old Pokemon trainer Michael Baker from Oregon found himself stabbed in the shoulder, after bumping into someone on the way to pick up some beer and chips, and some Pokemon too!

Commenting on what happened, he said: “I saw him go by and asked if he was playing Pokémon Go. He was like ‘what?’. I guess he wanted to battle because he came up at me with a knife.”

And to top it all off? “Right after I was stabbed,” he admitted, “I continued my mission to Plaid Pantry for mission for chips and beer. I basically risked my life.”

Eventually, after picking up some more Pokemon, he received eight stitches on his shoulder…

Look where you’re going!

That’s the very small criminal side of the app covered – a majority of other incidents have all been the fault of those playing the game!

How can catching Pokemon GO on a smartphone result in a broken bone and up to eight weeks injured? Well, a Reddit user confessed: “Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch. Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery.

“I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol… Watch where you’re going, folks!”

Another app user suffered a less painful fate, but unfortunately lost their phone in the process. A Pokemon GO player from Brooklyn was live streaming on both YouTube and Twitch as he was looking for a new creature to add to his PokeDex, but didn’t pay close enough attention!

Although you can’t see it in the video below, you can hear it… he falls straight into a pond!

You might not always find a Pokemon…

In one of the more peculiar and slightly terrifying stories since the dawn of Pokemon GO, it was revealed that one keen trainer discovered something a little different than the Pokemon they were after.

Talking to County 10 news, 19 year old Shayla Wiggins from Wyoming said: “I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water.

“I had to take a second look and I realised it was a body.”

EEK!

So is the game safe?

Every time you open up the app, you’ll be given a loading screen, complete with a warning that you should “remember to be alert at all times”, also advising you should “stay aware of your surroundings”.

Pokemon GO Loading Screen Remember to be alert at all times stay aware of your surroundings

The screen comes complete with a seemingly unaware Pokemon trainer, too engrossed on their phone to realise they’re about to enter the jaw of a Gyrados.

Of course, that’s just a fictional danger, but there are many dangers out there for real, and Pokemon’s advice should be taken seriously.

If you use your head, and plenty of common sense while making sure you’re very careful whilst playing, you can have a both a fun and safe time. Nothing to worry about!

Why does the app need so many phone permissions?

When you install Pokemon GO on Android, you’ll be asked to give it permission to four things:

  • Your camera
  • Your contacts
  • Your location
  • And your storage

But just why does it need these permissions?

Pokemon GO App Permissions on Android

Two of them are very obvious – for the augmented reality part of the game (collecting the Pokemon!), it obviously needs access to the camera on your phone. And for you to be strolling around the map to get to your next PokeStop, the app is going to need access to your GPS location… it’s the point of the game!

As with all apps, it needs your storage so it can store some game data on your phone, and there’s a chance it needs your contacts for a potential social aspect to the game, although this currently isn’t the case.

However, this number of permissions is nothing compared to many other apps, and with the game coming from a reputable platform such as Niantic, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

iOS Privacy Worries

It’s been noted that when you sign up to an account on iOS with your Google username, the app gets access to your FULL Google account, something which definitely isn’t needed for the game’s functionality.

It’s likely that this is an error though, and will probably be rectified in a future update. The issue doesn’t affect those on Android, and you can edit your Google Account permissions on this page.

UPDATE
This issue has now been fixed, with iOS users only having permission for “Basic Account Info” on their Google account.

Pokemon GO iOS Google Account Permission