Here's what wasn't mentioned in the changenotes:
1. The Sky!
Take a look skyward and you'll see things are a little different now. Both the day and night skies have been redesigned. There is no current evidence of sunsets or a moving sun at this point, but the night sky has been lightened, a higher-res, independent star layer has been added, and both the night and day have independently rotating cloud layers now.
Here's a look at the night sky difference:
Notably, this change actually reduced the filesize of the night/day sky assets by about 25%, while increasing the resolution. Pretty cool!
Too soon to say if this is the groundwork for the sunset/weather conditions hinted at by Dennis Hwang at GDC. But it wouldn't be unexpected at this point.
2. Redeemable Passcodes
This is a very unclear addition, but much has been added revolving around 'passcodes' which appear to be redeemed for items and are involved with the store.
It's our current theory that this is a way for Niantic to give out coupon codes for redeemable items in-game. This would make sense when considering Niantic or sponsors would then have the ability to give out redeemable rewards in-game, for the first time, via codes.
This may be a misinterpretation of the code, but there is clearly much added about redeemable passcodes.
On alternative explanation, for example, might be that these are simply a developer-side tool to auto-populate accounts with items for testing, etc.
...but our money's on in-game swag redeemable via acquiring passcodes. :)
3. Pokestop Cooldowns / Lockouts
Something appears to have been revamped when it comes to PokeStop cooldowns and lockouts. It's unclear at this point what the effect of these changes has been, but it appears an 'inactive' or 'closed' state has been added to PokeStops. This may just be a more intelligent soft ban, or it could be something entirely different. Keep an eye out to see what may feel differently about PokeStops!
4. Nickname Blackouts
A decent bit has been added to apparently better handle banned nicknames. This may be a shadowban system, as it's referred to as 'blackouts' - which would make a lot of sense.
Why this? If you ask us, there's a good chance this is being prioritized due to increased user interaction in upcoming features. We don't know what the 3 major updates will hold, but we do know that Niantic wants folks playing together. With that would come an exponential number of nickname reports for obscene names. This appears to us to be a more streamlined way to prepare for and handle inappropriate nicknames.
5. Throw Mechanics
Something was added to throwing called a "grade." ThrowGraded appears in relation to a duration and label. We do not currently see any label for this mechanic, but keep an eye out and see if things operate any differently, travelers.
6. Pokedex Buttons
Immediately apparent in the Pokedex is gender buttons under each entry! These appear to 'fill in' with red/blue solid color when you have acquired a Pokemon of that species and gender (apparently only Pokemon acquired after sometime in December have gender attributes - though this is not the final word).
These buttons show both male and female, as well as both a seen and captured state.
But included with these is.......
7. Shiny Pokedex Buttons!
That's right, travelers - alongside the new Pokedex gender buttons are new Pokemon variant buttons for Shiny Pokemon!
It is not clear at this point if, when shinies launch, you will be able to browse through all shiny variants in the Pokedex without encountering them, or not. One thing that is clear, however, is that there is only a 'Shiny Captured' button variant, where the other buttons have a 'captured' and a 'seen' variant.
This leads us to believe that shinies may either only be added to the Pokedex if caught, or they will all be browsable once you've caught one of a species. We suspect the former!
We'll post an infographic showing these assets soon.
8. Debugging and Monitoring
There has been major additions to the crash reporting / monitoring system in the app. It appears more effort is being spent on stability and reporting, though it is difficult to estimate the impact from these small tidbits.
Altogether, this update is shaping up to bring performance improvements, as well as a few hints to the future. The GAME_MASTER saw no changes in this update, though we don't anticipate moveset/DPS rebalances until the gym update anyway.
Shiny Pokemon variants have never seemed closer. Can't wait til the day reports start flooding in from travelers all over the Road with new shiny variant sightins. In the meantime, we look forward to the large gym update that's getting ever-closer, and are heading out to play with our new upgraded Pokedexes. :)