While its initial wave of popularity may be wearing off, Pokémon GO’s development team at Niantic are adding new features to the game for those players still sticking around. The latest new feature has been confirmed to be the rumored Buddy Pokémon system.
You can pick any Pokémon in your collection and assign them as your buddy. That Pokémon will have an icon that appears next to yours while you walk around the world, and as you walk you’ll earn “unique in-game rewards and experiences,” as well as bonuses like extra candies. What “experiences” means is unclear, but from the information Niantic provided, it doesn’t seem like the buddies will do anything besides giving you passive bonuses.
Unlike some early speculation, the Pokémon won’t appear in the world with your character, though they will show up next to your character in the profile screen.
It seems like the buddy Pokémon will act sort of like an egg does now, except that it gives you continual benefits as you walk, instead of one big reward after hitting a set distance.
The blog post also teases more features to come this fall, but so far, those updates are a mystery.