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With all the crazy weather we’ve been having lately all across the country, you might want to think about upgrading from Apple’s pretty bare bones weather app to something with a little more umph to it. But where to start? The App Store is choked with weather apps, but the basics are pretty much a given. You want to know the temperature, what the weather will be like today, and a forecast into the near future.
Is that too much to ask? Let’s find out.
Perhaps realizing that after you’ve covered the basics, there really isn’t much more to do, ITWC, the makers of Weather+ decided that pretty was the way to go. So they souped up their universal app with gorgeous weather-related backgrounds. Of course, there’s plenty besides pretty. Once you’ve inputted your location, Weather HD grabs the local time and breaks the data down into customizable widgets.
We Like the Pretty Blossoms
Top of the screen rides the old school flip-style clock, under that your location, date, very succinct weather description, and the current temperature. Below that is a five day spread showing you the general outlook for the week. For a bit more detail, under that is an hourly forecast for the day in 3 hour increments. Finally, at the very bottom, there’s a break down of the humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction, air pressure, and what the visibility is like.
This Picture is Missing a Margarita We Think
The nice part comes when you tap one of the forecasts. If it’s sunny, you get short video of a bright field or lovely blue sky or cherry blossoms falling toward the screen (our personal fave). But should the weather shift, you’re looking at dark clouds and active, brilliant lightning. It’s a nice conceit, even if not entirely necessary, but it does serve as a good visual reminder of what you can expect.
If you want more weathers in more cities, they’re easy to add, and you can tinker with these information widgets, swap Celsius for Farenheit, or get more or less frequent weather updates than the default three hour block.
Another “video based” weather app, vimov, LLC’s Weather HD also delivers a short, appropriate set of visual cues to inform you of the weather. Sunny scenes tell you a great day is ahead, while stormy clouds signal you might want to not go flying any kites any time soon. There’s far less widgeting going on in this app, with everything being discretely tucked in the corners. Location grabs the upper right corner, time the upper left, and the current weather summary down in the lower left hand side.
Hot, With Temperatures Falling and Isn't This Lovely?
The weather summary sticks to the basics, including the current conditions and temperature, the day’s highs and lows, the humidity, precipitation and wind speed and direction. Defaulted to off, you can also toggle on the air pressure and visibility.
Right below the weather summary is a button that lets you see the forecast, be it hourly or the next seven days worth. Each tap of a day or hour gives a new video, though Weather HD seems to be a little shy in the number of differing background scenes they provide.
We'd Recommend Staying Indoors for This One
Add more locations from the settings menu and you can flick across the screen to see all the weather you care about. It’s simple, it’s gorgeous, and it does the trick with flair.
ITWC has a second dog in this fight with their app, Fahrenheit (or Celsius if you live in a country rocking that style -- note, the apps can’t/won’t convert for your convenience).
Clean and Simple and to the Point
A simpler app than Weather+, Fahrenheit opens to the bare bonesiest set of data you’re likely to come across and that’s a good thing. Want to take in a snapshot of the next ten days and you’re not too fussy about all that visibility and air pressure business? Then this just might be the app for you. You get a column list with the day of the week to the far left, and under that a two word synopsis of the day’s weather. In a second column you get a high/low prediction. Third column gives you a sun with either clouds or no, or all clouds depending on the forecast. Lastly, the fourth column presents wind in as short a formula as possible (9 M/H N with a little compass icon next to it.)
Tap any of these days and a hidden panel slides out for a breakdown of the day in 3 hour increments plus the UV Index, the time of sunrise and sunset, and the chance of precipitation. Another tap and it’s all hidden again.
Where Fahrenheit’s real killer feature comes in is its icon badging. Want real time temperature on your home page? Right up in the right hand upper corner of the app, you’ve got a regularly updated number badge that keeps you in the loop. That’s a great feature that we just adore.
The Weather Underground (not the revolutionary group, we think), is responsible for the map based weather app, WunderMap. Fire it up, set your location, and WunderMap shows you your local area with push-pin style tags giving you the range of temperatures in your area. While we can see a good scientist putting this to use, for us regular folks it might seem like an over-glut of data.
That's a Lot of Data There
Drawing on the power of Google Maps, WunderMap will let you pinch and zoom or drag the map around and it’ll update with conditions wherever you want to see it, all over the world. Tap a push pin and, yes, Timra, Sweden’s current forecast is at your fingertips. Since they’re pulling from Google’s API, you can pick satellite view, street view, or a hybrid, but there’s more.
Tap the layers button and you can see what kind of cloud cover the world’s picking up, a radar overlay of precipitation, and severe weather bulletins. They’re not done yet, as the more button lets you see localized weather webcams so you know exactly what the conditions look like in the back gardens of Surrey, England.
Maybe It's a Little Too Much Data, Unless You're a Weather Junkie
Closer to home, your own local weather is in a small, three-paned box in the lower right hand side. First pane is current conditions including dew point, wind, visibility, humidity and so forth. Flick to the second pane to scroll up and down through 3 hour incremental forecasts, and the third pane gives you a seven day and night short prediction.
Chock full of data, WunderMap might just be too much information for the average person who just wants to know if she needs to take an umbrella to work, but if you’re a weather junkie we don’t see how you could go wrong.
Smart Solutions thinks they know what you want with Weather Forecast Pro. You want big, you want bold, you want chunky information fields that look like buttons but aren’t. Right there on the screen once you get your location set, you have a big top section with today’s temperature, time (including sunrise and sunset), a short weather explanation, plus the wind and humidity.
Below that, taking up the remaining 2/3rds of the screen, you have the a five day forecast with clearly understandable icons for the weather. Chunky button-looking fields sit next to those days which gives you the corresponding projected high and low.
Big Bold Buttons Bring Barometric Business
Across the bottom of your screen are five buttons. One toggles back and forth between Fahrenheit and Celsius. The globe button gives you a map that supposedly will let you pick weather for the location you tap on (it repeatedly crashed at this step). The satelite-y looking button gives you a “Satelit image” (sic) with South America most prominently displayed. A globe with magnifying glass lets you search for weather around the world, and the star displays your favorite weathers.
Ummm...Sorta Helpful to Someone, We're Sure
The UI isn’t the prettiest we’ve seen in these parts and the navigation through the app tended to make it crash more often than we’d think warranted by the small task it shouldered.
It’s clear that there are as many different weather apps as there are tastes in weather apps. For our own considerations, we want easy to read data, quickly available, with a simple to customize interface. While the temperature badge of Fahrenheit is dead useful (and something Apple could easily implement like the changing date on the Calendar app icon), by itself the app lacks something special. With the prettiest images and the most customizability and ease of use, we have to give the golden umbrella to the makers of Weather+. The stormy backgrounds, the falling cherry blossoms, all of that is just icing on the cake of a well-done data interface.