Golro’s Guide to Glyphing


This week’s guest contributor is Golro, a L16 agent from Singapore (and one of the top 400 agents in the world).

Upon the release of the Translator badge on 30 Jan 2015, he attained Gold in one day, and Onyx by 11 Feb. With help from agents Kidon0 and luminoir, this is a guide to all aspects of Glyphing, from one of the first few Onyx translators in the world.


Glyph hacking is a skill-based activity that requires pattern recognition, memorization, quick fingers and a reliable touchscreen. This guide will focus on optimal glyph hacking of Level 8 Portals (P8).


There are the key benefits to glyph hacking:

Improved item drops

Your accuracy and speed will affect the number of items dropped. Unlike regular hacks, glyph hack bonuses are normally not affected by a portal’s faction alignment.  You can quickly rebuild your inventory by glyph hacking portals of any alignment. With the recent changes in game logic, the bonus from successful glyph hacks has now increased even more, making this a great way to replenish your inventory.

An inevitable Onyx badge

Glyph hacking is one of the simplest and quickest ways to obtain an Onyx badge. The bronze badge requires only 14 perfect P8 glyph hacks. While it requires some work, it is simple to achieve, difficult for opponents to deny and has no impact on other faction mates’ leveling opportunities.  In fact you can help people by donating excess inventory!

AP Gain

Recently, Niantic has also begun awarding AP for successful glyphs and now awards speed bonuses in a more granular fashion (rather than arbitrary bonuses based on ‘tiers’ of time remaining).

General Tips

Although there are no shortcuts to glyph mastery (it’s like learning a new, albeit simple, language), there are a number of tips that should make your journey to the Onyx translator badge less painful and perhaps even enjoyable:

TL;DR – DO NOT create your own word/glyph associations

  • Learn to associate the proper words to the glyphs
  • Remembering any sequence of glyphs becomes easy if you remember the proper words for them
  • The multi-glyph sequences are actually proper phrases (typically pro or anti-shaper propaganda). Getting 5 glyph hacks correct becomes very easy if you remember the glyphs as a phrase. For example:


  • An additional benefit is that the logical phrases become very easy to remember, allowing you to derive the complete glyph sequence from an incomplete part of the sequence. For example, if you were distracted and missed the beginning of this glyph sequence, it’s easy to guess the glyphs you missed.



Learn the common P8 glyph combinations

There are some useful charts of common P8 glyph combinations courtesy of Ingress TV:

Learn the associated glyphs

When memorizing individual glyph meanings, there are associations among some glyphs that should help you. Here are some examples:

Antonyms (opposing pairs)



The glyph for Human is a composite of Mind, Body and Soul


Logical mutations

Lie is an incomplete/broken Truth


Strong is a closed box while Weak is an open line 



The Imperfect Glyph is special because it has to be drawn in a very specific way.


Glyphing lag

This is a major source of frustration for players.  I have encountered some Android users who prefer glyphing on iOS because it allegedly suffers less from lag/hiccup problems. I suggest studying which apps are creating load, especially unpredictable load, on your device. I have observed that notifications from apps tend to exacerbate the glyph hiccup problem. If lag is a serious issue, you may want to consider trimming down the number of background processes/applications that are running on your device.

Hardware and Form Factor

This can affect how well or comfortably you glyph. My personal preference is glyphing on phones with relatively small screens, as this reduces the distance my finger has to travel to trace the glyphs. However, I know other players that prefer to glyph on a tablet. Figure out what works best for you.

  • A tablet may give you better results because the touch sensor has more time to compensate for lag vs. your finger speed due to increased distance between points.
  • A phone may give you better results because you prefer to use your thumb with shorter, slower movements.
  • Ultimately it depends on how you glyph, the speed at which your fingers move, the accuracy of the touch sensor and how well the CPU/GPU handle the processing load.

Physical factors


Sticky or sweaty fingers can also slow down your progress. Use your fingernail to lift your fingertip slightly to decrease the surface area of your skin making contact with the screen while maintaining enough pressure for capacitive contact. This will reduce friction, speed up your glyphing, and improve accuracy.

Stability or speed

Some people like using their thumbs while others use their fingers. If you glyph 2 handed, you may also vary whether you anchor your glyphing hand to the phone with your thumb for stability, or free floating to improve speed.

Badge Hunting Tips

Specific advice for “grinding”, or at least accelerating, towards the translator badge:

  • Speed vs. Accuracy — I usually advocate achieving the speed bonus when building inventory due to the increased item yield, but when pursuing the Translator Badge, I prioritize accuracy for two reasons:
    • You only receive Translator Badge points if your hack is 100% accurate
    • You will hit your inventory limit with amazing regularity if you keep achieving the 66% speed bonus:
      • I gave away thousands of items and recycled thousands more within a week.  A part of me still weeps for all of the potential action points lost in the process.
  • Cluster density — Find cluster that has a circular route or flow that allows you to continuously glyph hack until you burn the cluster out.  A location that yields approximately 200 hacks per burnout cycle is probably ideal (more than that and you’re likely to develop shoulder/neck problems).  One cluster we used had 25 portals with common multi-hacks, another 13 portals with rare heat sinks and very rare multi-hacks.  Find a configuration/layout that works well for you.
  • Glyph hack speed — We timed the duration of a perfect 5 glyph hack under reasonable conditions and found that it takes approximately 20-25 seconds from holding the hack button to pressing “Done”.  Don’t bother waiting to see if you hacked correctly or got the speed bonus as it does not matter. Move on to the next portal and keep glyphing. Develop a rhythm that allows you to stay in the glyph screen as much as possible.
  • Clear your inventory before you begin — If you follow the above advice, a 200 hack burnout is very likely to take you from 0 to full. Recycling items mid-way is extremely disruptive to the flow once you’ve built up a good rhythm.
  • Portal level — While it is easier said than done, prioritize hacking P8s whenever possible to get the highest yield of badge points for the time that you invest.  Obviously that should not stop you from hacking whatever comes your way. I gained my bronze badge on the 20 minute bus ride to work hacking L6-L8 portals.  Opportunistically glyph hack all portals, regardless of level or alignment, but stick to higher level portals, all else being equal.
  • Opposition portals — Take advantage of the somewhat decreased item yield by glyph hacking opposition portals to reduce the inventory management overhead. Additionally, unless your faction-mates come by, the portals are less likely to be taken down.

Even if you do not glyph hack perfectly, there is always the consolation prize of increased hack yield. Do not lose heart. Just keep glyphing.


If one is short on portals to burn out to learn glyph hacking in situ, it is worth investing the time to practice glyphs and glyph combinations using training tools.


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