HOW TO: Ingress

niantic labs

Google is at it again, only this time it’s more secretive. For the past three years Google’s Niantic Labs has been running an app called Ingress, a game like navigational tool. Stories say that Ingress was created to help Google make their first ever pedestrian map. If this is true, they know how to get things done effectively; what’s better than free labor?

“The world around you is not as it seems”, as Niantic Labs states. Ingress is a real time game played by millions across the globe. But don’t let the term “game” fool you; the highly addictive application is nothing less than a competitive way to socialize with strangers who share your interests. Before starting there are some terms you’ll need to know:

  • Portals- Significant real life places or objects
  • Capture- To take a portal that is either un-owned or taken by the opposite team
  • Resistance- Those who seek to remove technology from the world
  • Enlightened- Those who are using technology to better the world


  1. Start by installing the free Ingress application from your provider’s market. The app is available on smart phones and tablets.
  2. Before opening the app, turn on your data or internet source and your GPS. Make sure your GPS is on High Accuracy.
  3. Create a Google account on (if you already have one, sign in using your email address).
  4. Create your Ingress Agent name. Keep in mind that your agent name you choose will be seen by players on a global scale.
  5. Your screen will look like a map, teal roads, white lines for water, and glittering specks for xm (your energy source). To begin work, open the OPS tab by tapping on the OPS button in the right corner.
  6. The OPS tab will open a user interface with various tabs to choose from. Locate the tab labeled “training” in the menu across the top, it’s the fifth tab.
  7. Begin training by tapping on “first contact”. From there you’ll begin a tutorial which you can always opt out of. After completing the first step navigate back to the training tab and move on to “retrieve XM”. You will continue to complete the tutorials and move down the list.

You now know the basics of how to use Ingress. Using this, you’ll learn new tricks, meet new people, and find new things you didn’t know existed. It’s up to you to begin “portaling” by visiting places that are portals, or creating your own. You can find portals near you by driving with Ingress on like a GPS, or by opening the Ingress Intel Map in Google Chrome and typing in your location. You can also chat with other players through the COMMS tab on the bottom of the screen, or see the progress worldwide on the intel map.

Once you start capturing portals and moving up in the ranks, feel free to attend local or national Ingress events such as Shonin. Subscribing to email alerts will help you find these and trust me, there’s nothing that beats a great field op. You can also dig a little deeper into the Ingress mystery and search things like “ingress related deaths” or “ingress violence”, and try to figure out what Google is really up to.

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