Posts Tagged ‘Weather’

‘Perfect Weather’ Aims to be Your Favorite iPhone Weather App

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

perfect-weather-iconContrast, the maker of one of my all-time favorite and most-used apps, Launch Center Pro, has released Perfect Weather, a––you guessed it–– weather app for iPhone. Perfect Weather hit the App Store this morning and costs $2.99.

If you check out the App Store’s Weather category, you’ll find hundreds of iPhone and iPad apps with the goal of telling you what the weather’s like. Some give you painstaking detail while others give you a bare minimum of information but look really pretty while doing it and there’s bound to be one already available that tickles your fancy. So why do developers keep making new weather apps given the hundreds already available? Contrast’s founder, David Barnard, answered this very question in the press kit for Perfect Weather:

With hundreds of weather apps crowding the App Store, why build another? Because I live in Texas! Most weather apps cater to the idyllic climate in Silicon Valley. I needed something different, so I enlisted the help of a couple friends and built my perfect weather app.

In places like Texas, where big thunderstorms and surprise rain showers are common, the current temperature is often immaterial. We came up with a split view that makes it easy to check the forecast and weather map at a glance. And to get me through the hot Texas summers, we built an interactive temperature chart that gives the time of the high and low temperature as well as the hourly forecast.

Like Apple’s own Weather app, Perfect Weather can save multiple locations so you can easily access weather information for several US cities. On a city’s page, you can see a lot of information at a single glance, including the predicted high and low temperatures for today and the chance of precipitation, the weekly forecast, and even a radar view showing cloud cover or rain. Also shown is a graph that displays the temperature variations for the current day, which you can slide your finger along to see the predicted temperature for a specific time, much like Weathertron. Swiping to the left on this graph reveals even more information like humidity, pressure, and sunrise and sunset times.

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Swiping up on the information tab reveals more of the radar map, where you can choose to view rain or cloud cover and activate animation to show how each is moving across the area. Tapping on the lightning symbol in the top left corner reveals any NOAA weather alerts.

Here’s a promotional video showing Perfect Weather in action:

I’ve lost count of how many weather apps I’ve tried since the App Store opened in 2008, which means that my iPhone weather app needs are more complex than I ever expected. After trying out Perfect Weather for several days now, I find it to be only just shy of perfect for my needs. The two bits of weather information I want most often are the current temperature (to gauge immediate dog walking conditions and how to dress accordingly) and the forecast for the next week. Those are easy to see with Perfect Weather but I’ve gotten used to one feature it doesn’t offer but ITWC Association’s Fahrenheit does: a push notification badge that shows the current temperature on the iPhone’s home screen. Call me lazy, but it’s incredibly useful for me to be able to see this at a glance without even needing to open an app.

Your weather app needs are probably different than mine and if you’re looking for all of the basic weather information that’s easy to see at a quick glance and the ability to dive deeper to see radar information and NOAA weather alerts, I recommend Perfect Weather. If it doesn’t meet every single one of your needs, it will probably meet most.

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‘Weathertron’ for iPhone Gives Minute-by-Minute Weather Information

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

I feel like I’ve tried about a hundred different weather apps since the App Store opened in 2008. For whatever reason, I haven’t come across an app that meets all of my weather information needs. I don’t think my forecast needs are complex but always I keep an eye on the Weather app category, hoping to find The One.

Today a new app caught my eye. Weathertron by Keming Labs just debuted in the App Store and it lets you easily find out the predicted conditions for a specific time of the day using weather data from 16 different sources.

The main view in Weathertron is broken into three sections. The top section shows the current temperature, time, and a general weather description (tapping on this section toggles to display sunrise and sunset times). The next section shows you the predicted precipitation in the form of a bar graph. The bottom section shows the temperature in a line graph. Sliding your finger left and right will scroll through the time so you can peek ahead a few hours or all the way to tomorrow to see what the predicted precipitation and temperature will be at a specific time.

Say you’re planning to take the dog for a walk in the evening and want to know what the weather will be like around 6:30 when you’re planning on going. You can easily slide to that time and get an exact snapshot of the forecast to find out if you’ll need an umbrella or sunscreen.

A virtual button that looks like a bar chart in the bottom right corner reveals the forecast for the next week. Tapping on the virtual button in the left bottom corner takes you to the settings where you can change the temperature scale and clock format.

Here’s a demo video showing Weathertron in action:

Weathertron is all about local and immediate weather information so it doesn’t offer quick access to weather in multiple cities like with the built-in Weather app or Clear Day or Yahoo! Weather. Also, it doesn’t offer any radar views so if you like to see live views of cloud and storm coverage, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Weathertron is a universal app so it will work on both the iPhone and iPad if you like to keep track of the weather on multiple devices.

I’m going to give Weathertron a shot as my primary weather app for a little while, bumping Today Weather to another screen in the meantime. Right off the bat, I do wish Weathertron could show me the current local temperature via a push notification badge and alert me when it’s going to rain soon like Dark Sky (my review). But I think it will still serve me well to plan daily outings with the dog and find the best times to work on my tan in the temperamental New England summer weather.

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Keep Track of Hurricane Sandy with Your iPhone

Monday, October 29th, 2012

If you’re in the mid-Atlantic or northeastern US or have friends or family in these areas, you’re probably keeping tabs on the progress of Hurricane Sandy. As you’d expect, there are several apps to help you stay on top of the weather on your iPhone while you’re working on staying out of Sandy’s way or hunkering down to wait her out.

First up is a free offering from the Red Cross. Hurricane provides you with a plethora of information from steps to take to prepare for a hurricane and other useful tips to location-based alerts from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Red Cross shelter locations, and the ability to send out notifications via email, text message, and social networks to your friends and family to let them know you’re safe.

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If you want to actually watch the progress of Sandy or any other storm in excruciating detail, check out Base Velocity’s RadarScope. At $9.99, it’s a bit more expensive than other weather apps but it offers so much radar information it’ll make your head spin.

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If you’d rather listen to relevant weather updates, most internet radio apps should let you access the NOAA radio stations but you can find them all in a single app if you’d rather not mess around. Christopher Coudriet’s NOAA Weather Radio puts more than 200 NOAA stations and broadcasts at your fingertips and offers push notifications of weather alerts plus forecast information and links to other online weather news sources.

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If you just want a general all-around weather app that can also give you alerts for severe storms, Vimov’s Weather HD is a good choice. Weather HD gives you forecast current conditions and forecast information in a pretty, animated interface that’s worthy of constant display when you have your iPhone docked on your desk. You can also opt to receive push notification alerts from the NOAA for severe weather issues in your area.

Weather HD is also on sale in celebration of Halloween, so it’s a good time to snap it up.

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Sandy’s wind and rain have been rattling the windows for most of the day but the electricity is still going strong in the part of Boston where I live but I’m fully expecting it to bite the dust shortly. If you’re in the path of Sandy, stay safe!

Dark Sky for iPhone and iPad Gets Push Notifications to Alert You of Impending Rain

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Though our focus is on back-to-school apps this month, I wanted to post a quick bit of news on an app we featured in July, Dark Sky, since it received a couple of key new features this week in an update. Dark Sky, which aims to offer more precise weather predictions for your exact location, can now give push notification alerts to let you know when it’s going to rain 15 minutes in advance and provides a radar view for the entire continental US.

The full list of what’s new in version 2.0.0 is as follows:

  • Push Notifications. We’ll warn you before it rains! (still a bit experimental)
  • National radar view. See all the storms in the country at once (amazing on the iPad)
  • VoiceOver support for improved accessibility
  • Better icon!
  • Added the darksky://your%20location protocol for integration with third-party apps (e.g. Launch Center Pro), and link sharing
  • Touch-and-hold on the map to change your forecast location
  • A whole bucketful of bug fixes and performance improvements
  • Ability to turn off “Clear Skies Are Boring” message
  • Increased app version number by more than 51.5%!

A new toggle in the top right corner is where you can access the push notification settings to choose to turn on alerts, designate “do not disturb” hours so you can avoid interruptions during work or sleeping hours, and select the precipitation notification threshold.

In a blog post about the 2.0.0 update, Dark Sky’s developers describe that the alert feature is really still in beta and they’re asking for feedback if it doesn’t work the way you’d expect. A follow-up post today provides some answers to concerns they’ve heard from users about privacy and battery consumption. They’ve clarified that Dark Sky uses a less power-hungry mode, cell tower triangulation, to determine your location when the app is not active and that no information that can identify you to anyone other than Apple is transmitted with your location information.

The new alert feature was the main item on my wish list for a future update when I first looked at Dark Sky and it’s nice to see it implemented. Dark Sky still won’t replace Fahrenheit as my go-to weather app on my iPhone since it lacks more comprehensive forecast information but it’s getting there.

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Solar Weather App for the iPhone is Cool All the Time

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Even though I covered Dark Sky yesterday, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention a new entry in the Weather category in the iOS App Store, Solar by Hollr, Inc. Solar hit the App Store earlier this month and features a slick interface to fast-forward through the weather forecast for the current day and see forecast information and the current conditions for other saved locations.

In Solar, sliding your finger up the screen will fast-forward through the current day to show you the expected conditions for the next 24 hours, complete with an animated background to show any precipitation. Dragging downward will pull a 3-day forecast into view from the top of the screen. Pinching with two fingers will reduce the view to tiles for your current location and any other locations you save using the plus button in the top right corner. You can flick right and left to navigate through all of these tiles and tap on one to see its details.

Here’s a demo video showing Solar in action:

Solar is well-done and reminds me of Clear with its gesture-driven interface to carry out most actions. If you don’t need radar or more extensive and detailed forecast information, Solar is an excellent choice for a cool weather app that can showcase the iPhone and its capabilities. It’s on sale for a limited time at just $.99 to celebrate its release so get it now before the price goes up.

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Dark Sky Brings Personalized Weather Predictions to iPhone and iPad

Monday, July 30th, 2012

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the weather in the northeastern US after several years living in sunny California, it’s that weather conditions can change on a dime and ruin your plans with little notice, even in the summer. Fortunately, there are creative developers like Jackadam who are willing to help you maximize your time outdoors and avoid surprises from Mother Nature with Dark Sky for the iPhone and iPad.

Dark Sky promises more precise “minute-to-minute” predictions based on your location with a focus on the next hour to give meaningful short-term information to help you plan your outdoor activities. The app evaluates raw weather radar data and reprocesses it to remove the noise and give more accurate weather predictions. You can read more about how Dark Sky’s predicts weather in this blog post written by its developers.

I tested Dark Sky on a day when rain was expected to see how closely it would track the rain heading my way. Here’s the sequence of screen shots as I tracked the arrival of the brief storm.

At first, Dark Sky told me light rain would start in 25 minutes, then it revised prediction just five minutes later to say that is was now sprinkling and that rain would start in earnest in 20 minutes and last for 30 minutes. At that moment, I didn’t see any sprinkles but there were ominous clouds around and it was clear that it was going to rain.

It actually began to rain about 15 minutes later and this is what Dark Sky showed me then:

The rain did indeed continue for about 20 minutes and then stopped. A test on another day when rain was expected yielded a similar experience where Dark Sky predicted incoming weather within a 25-minute window with minor changes as time passed.

Predicting the exact start and stop times of any weather event is impossible to do perfectly but Dark Sky seems to be reasonably good in giving you a heads up about incoming inclement weather. However, it is missing a feature that would be key for me to keep Dark Sky on my iPhone: the ability to get push notifications to notify me of incoming rain.

For example, I like to walk my dog in the evening after work but sometimes other tasks get in the way and I don’t get to this until later than planned. Occasionally, rain cancels the walk entirely when I finally grab his leash and get ready to head out. (Before you suggest it, dragging a 125 lb Great Dane who hates water on a walk through the rain is incredibly difficult and entirely unpleasant for all involved.) If I’d known rain was coming in the next hour or so, chances are that I’d drop what I was doing and take the dog out right away to beat the rain.

Of course, some parameters around these alerts would be useful since I wouldn’t want or need to be notified every time it’s going to rain. A simple switch in the app to turn on a single notification to let me know of any upcoming rain one hour before it hits within the next four hours would be perfect for my use.

Dark Sky was borne out of Kickstarter, reaching its funding level in November 2011 and debuting in the App Store in April. It’s is a universal app for both the iPhone and iPad and costs $3.99. It works only in the US at this time since it uses information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an American federal agency that monitors the oceans and atmosphere. If you’re in the US, it’s worth a buy to keep closer tabs on the weather as the summer vacation season winds down.

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