No you don’t have to buy a separate item for this you simply download the Ingress App from Google play and load it on your Android device. Sorry it’s not available for iOS products.
It’s free, but just remember that right now it is in a closed beta stage. So even if you download the app you wouldn’t be able to participate in the game until you get an invite.
One word of caution… It will suck your battery dry in no time flat, so please make sure to have a charger handy. On my Motorola Droid 3 I would say it would take me from a full battery to empty in less than an hour. I am a high user of my phone and realize the Droid 3 doesn't have the best of battery life in normal conditions, but this is extreme.
The Scanner is relatively easy to use. Making things even better the game starts with a brief tutorial on using the scanner. At start up it will display your current location. You will see a GPS type view of your area you can only expand your view out to approximately one mile out. Your location is the triangle in the center of the thicker blue ring.
You will notice that periodically you will emit a thinner blue ring that goes out and ultimately fades away and another will be emitted. Think of this as your radar. This radar will find the portals for you. Some higher level portals will be on your map before the radar hits it. But lower level ones will need to get a hit before they display.
Hint. It is very tempting to try playing Ingress while driving. Not only is this not safe, often times it is not practical. At highway speeds, you will not be able to locate the portal, target, and hack before you are out of range. So please do not try while you drive.
Once you see a portal appear on your screen, touch and hold it for a second. It will give you a few options: Target, Fire XMP, Deploy & Recharge.
If you select target when the portal is out of range it will keep track of the distance and open to the portal’s screen when you are in range. I think this is a really cool screen. From here you can Hack the portal, Link to another Portal (More to come on that later), Recharge the resonators, Upgrade the portal, or cancel back out to the map view.
You can also see how many resonators the portal has, their level, how well charged they are. Sometimes there will be a photo of where the portal is in the top left, but not always. You can also see how powerful the portal is, who is the current owner, and even more information on the portal. You can see what mods if any the portal has too. By touching the picture you may be taken to some really informative info about the site especially if you are at a historical location, artwork or something else that may have a story behind it.
Your scanner can also act as a communication device. At the bottom you will see the COMM button. This will allow you to chat with other players. You can set the chat up to only get messages from members of your faction, only ones in your area and more. You will also be informed here and by email if an opponent destroys your resonators. This is a useful tool if you are going out in a group (I’ll cover group play soon).
You also have the OPS button at the top. This will take you to the game menu. From here you can see the items you have under Items. This is useful because by default if you want to fire an XMP Burster or deploy a resonator it will deploy/fire your lowest level one and many time s you may not want to do that. It is also useful because you can see what Portal Keys you have and more. Another thing you will find on the Items page is where you can enter passcodes (more about these later).
The Intel tab will basically give you the worldwide game score.
The mission tab will go over the training demos with you that you went through when you first got your invitation.
Recruit allows you to send invites to others to play. You need to earn the ability to do this first.
The device tab basically lets you set your scanners settings.
That’s your Ingress scanner in a nutshell.