App of the Day: Ingress for Android

Written by Mat Lee

If you haven’t played Ingress for Android, there’s no better time to start. Pick your side, get out there and start finding portals. Mat Lee reviews.

aNewDomain — If I had a nickel for every time someone told me, “the world around you is not what it seems,” I’d be, well, several cents richer. This time, though, it might just be true — if “the world around you” means staring down at your phone while the actual world around you continues to move.

ingressToday’s app of the day is a game called Ingress. Ingress is an ARMMOG — an Augmented Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Game — but can we please agree never to call it that in public? Check it out free on Google Play.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say Ingress, guardian portals, XM or Klue, it’s still not too late to get sucked into the game. True, by now you’ve missed a lot of the story, but how many people are actually into this geocaching-inspired game because of the storyline? There are seriously cool cryptographic puzzles to solve throughout the game that give you codes you can redeem using your scanner. This means more cool stuff to use when capturing or attacking portals. Interested yet?

Ingress for Beginners

I’ll break the gameplay down below, but keep in mind that if you want a more detailed explanation you can check out the Google Play page — it’s fairly extensive. So, once you download the app, your phone acts as a scanner. You can choose to play either on the awesome Resistance side or on the still awesome — but slightly less so — Enlightened side. The teams are blue and green, respectively.

ingress global viewThe basic premise goes like this: A team of European scientists find a weird new form of energy called Exotic Matter, abbreviated XM. Nobody knows where it came from, but some people fear it might be doing weird mind control stuff on people. The Enlightened want to embrace the power, while the Resistance want to defend and protect what is left of our humanity.

So how does it work? You take your phone outside, drive, bike, ride or walk around and use the scanner to pick up XM. Always try to keep your XM full. You can check the Ingress intel map to plan your trip, but in my experience portals are located all over the place.

Once you get to a portal there are a few things you can do. If the portal is unclaimed and you have resonators, you can deploy them. If you deploy eight resonators, it will fully power a portal. Once a portal is powered, you can use portal keys to link it to other portals.

This might sound complicated, but once you install the game and run the tutorial you’ll be good. There are a bunch of great online portal communities, too. The first thing you should do after installing the game is find the active members on your team in your community, and see if there is a local page. This will help in meeting other players and planning strategy.

Plus players with the founder badge – who have been around since the days of the closed beta – are usually happy to help a newbie. I’m sure everyone is happy to help, but those are the ones who know stuff.

ingress xmp bursterI like to approach a portal and, if it’s claimed on my team, I’ll upgrade it if at all possible, check for links and then hack it. If it’s an enemy portal, then I’ll hack it and try to blow up the resonators if I can. You blow up an enemy portal’s resonators using XMP bursters. Again, all done sitting in the real world while using the phone as a scanner.

This burns up a lot of battery since you constantly have your screen and GPS on, so keep that in mind when going on extended bombing runs or farming trips. It’s always good to keep one or two extra chargers with you. I like the kind you can put AAs in, that way you don’t have to find a place to charge the charger, you can just pop in some new batteries.

That’s about all the game review I can do without you actually playing. Definitely check Ingress out, it’s worth it, and not as complicated as it sounds. It has gotten a lot better since the early closed beta days.

Here are some helpful links to get you started:

The Niantic Project YouTube channel has a ton of great videos to help you get started. Also make sure to check out the Ingress Report for more cool info. Also check out, as that’s their main site.

The Niantic Project page on Google+ has a ton of helpful information and links, too.

Some people really hate the Ingress intel map, but honestly it can be your best friend. Don’t waste a bunch of unnecessary gas or time trying to figure out your link situation when you can easily open up the map and plan it out beforehand.


aNewDomain’s own Ant Pruitt has a couple of awesome articles to help you get started with Ingress. Check out his article with tips and tricks for how to play the game, and another about why he’s still playing — and enjoying — Ingress a couple of years in.

If you’re curious about the history of the game or anything like that, check out the Wiki page for Ingress.

And, of course, you can download Ingress Android on the Play Store and it’s free! There’s a version for Apple iOS as well.

For aNewDomain, I’m .

Ed: The original version of this review ran on aNewDomain’s BreakingModern. Read it here