Best Weather app(s). Part 1. / by Natashia Tjandra

I thought I’ll try a new format. Each week I’ll review apps according to a theme. This week and next, I’ll be touching on weather – very essential, even more so now that we are in the cusp of spring. The weather app genre is surprisingly intriguing with so much innovative design to present the same relative information.

Before we start the review, let’s set the parameters.
Here’s what I look for in a weather app:

  1. Immediately show the current conditions, with current temperature and whether it is raining or snowing or etc.
  2. Display information (forecast) such that I could get an idea of the weather for the day at one glance.
  3. Launch and pull data quickly
  4. I don’t want to click through many panels to get basic information that could be shown on one screen.
  5. There’s no need for detailed hour-by-hour forecasts and a Doppler radar.
  6. Is there a unique feature?
  7. Interactivity or entertainment will be a bonus
  8. Will it hold my interest? Would I want to keep the app? Will I keep using it?

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BEST WEATHER APP contenders for this week.
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1. GOOD WEATHER

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Unique Feature Games. This app is designed so that each particular condition unlocks a special mini-game where you get to play with the components of the conditions.

Features Celcius or Fahrenheit • 5-day forecast • Current conditions along with temperature, precipitation chance, cloud coverage percentage, and wind speed • Cities/Location

Pros

  • Simple, clean, iconic and aesthetically pleasing representation of the current weather conditions along with temperature, precipitation chance, cloud coverage percentage, and wind speed.
  • You can also tap the temperature to bring up the five-day forecast, but the pictorial conditions (icons) are the definite highlight of the app. The designers used information hierarchy wisely.
  • Each condition has a different background color. I find this helps with differentiation, and I could almost tell which color denotes which condition.
  • Each particular condition unlocks a special mini-game where you get to play with the  components of the conditions. For example, when it’s sunny, you can play a Doodle Jump style endless jumping game with the sun. There are different games for snowing, raining and cloud shooting game. I’m not spoiling the surprise, you should download the app and discover what games there are.
  • The app keeps track of your high scores for each mini-game and levels you’ve unlocked so far. Each one features an exquisite visuals and soundtrack, making it a joy to play.
  • The app supports multiple cities with accurate and updated statistics.
  • Games can be played even if there’s no Internet connection
  • 3 preloaded weather conditions from 3 different cities (Oz, Winterfell and Neverland), which mean you have 3 unlocked games from the get go.
  • Succinct instructions for games, they are simple enough to figure out what to do.
  • For kicks, you can type in any imaginary cities in popular books/movies. I did that. I typed in Narnia and it gives me perpetually sunny. Free cities - overcast. Westeros - didn’t work.

Cons

  • There’s no predictions on hourly weather for the day. I was wondering if it’s going to stay, for example Sunny the whole day, or just at that particular moment of the day.

Smile factor
Good Weather makes me want to check the weather every day to find a new form of conditions, and unlock a new mini-game. Because of that, I don’t really mind that I’m unclear or unsure if it’s going to stay sunny, overcast, etc for the whole day or just at that particular moment.

The Verdict
The app displays really simple weather info, it gives what you need for a quick glance, and draws you in with the allure of the games. Each one isn’t much by itself, but together the collection provides plenty of enjoyment. The only extra to add now would be Game Center leaderboards and achievements to tie to the mini-games, and daily conditions. Thank you Gabriela for introducing me to this app.

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2. HAZE

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Unique Feature An animated and gesture driven interface that shares some similarities to Clear and Solar.

Features
Celcius or Fahrenheit • 5-day forecast • Current conditions along with thigh, low, wind direction, wind speed, and feels like temperature • Hours of sunlight with sunrise, sunset, current condition, cloud percentage, and UV index • Precipitation with percentage chance of rain, barometric pressure, humidity, and umbrella indicator • Unlockable themes

Pros

  • Simple weather report in a clean and attractive interface that relies on gestures to control — something we don’t see too often in weather apps.
  • There are three different pages in the app. The first page provides the temperature, and the background continuously slides up or down depending on if tomorrow’s temperature will be higher or lower. You can tap on the temperature orb. It’ll display five other information - high, low, wind direction, wind speed, and feels like temperature. You can also swipe down to bring up the five day forecast. The other two pages offer the same functionality, but with different weather info.
  • Swipe left or right to move to the other pages, and to the right is the precipitation page with percentage chance, barometric pressure, humidity, and umbrella indicator. Also, to access the five day forecast, swipe down. An animated background will indicate if tomorrow will be more or less than today.
  • Swipe left to bring up the sunshine tab. The app provides how many hours of sunlight on the main orb, and then you can view sunrise, sunset, current condition, cloud percentage, and UV index. A five day forecast will be displayed with a swipe down as well as an animated background to indicate if tomorrow will be more or less than today.
  • You can unlock themes to change the color scheme, like Clear.

Cons

  • Its use of animated backgrounds to tell you the forecast may not be the most efficient method of reporting the weather.
  • You can only access one location.
  • Unlocked themes only apply to the temperature page.

Smile factor
The app displays dry information with nice gestures and animations to enhance the numbers.

The Verdict
It’s a fun-to-use app that’s easy on the eyes and ears, and offers a fresh take on your daily weather.

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3. SWACKETT

imageUnique Feature Swackett doesn’t give a compilation of numbers, tastefully rendered clouds and sun, or animated weather effects. Instead you’re simply shown human figures that are dressed appropriately for the current weather conditions. 

Features Celcius or Fahrenheit • 5-day forecast • Current conditions along with thigh, low, wind direction, wind speed, and feels like temperature • Hours of sunlight with sunrise, sunset, current condition, cloud percentage, and UV index • Precipitation with percentage chance of rain, barometric pressure, humidity, and umbrella indicator • Unlockable themes

Pros

  • Simple and complex weather forecasts in one
  • Minimalist 2D human icons are shown clothes for the appropriate weather conditions. When it’s warm out, the characters wears shorts, short sleeve shirt, and hat or sunblock. On the other hand, when it’s on the mild side you see a light jacket, and when it’s downright cold it’s time for a full on coat.
  • High or low temperature are shown at the same panel, and most importantly, what it feels like out.
  • At the bottom you can choose which options you’d to see: current conditions, today’s high, today’s low and tomorrow’s forecast.
  • When you turn your iPhone horizontally, you’re given the hourly forecast for today, and the five day forecast.
  • You can tap on any square in the forecast to see temperature real feel, humidity, dew point and wind speed and direction.
  • In the horizontal mode you also have access to animated Doppler radars from accuweather.com
  • There are also severe weather warnings, and this is one of the few apps that provides simple forecasts and complex weather features in one.
  • You also have the ability to adjust the settings what temperatures define warm, cold, etc. to give you the appropriate attires.
  • There’s also a fifties mode for $0.99 with fifties attire for each weather condition, when you get bored.
  • The app also includes tidbits about what you can do with the weather
  • There are multiple outfits to swipe through for male and female.

Cons

  • Would be nice to see even more clothing style
  • Alerts are included, but not push notifications
  • Ads are integrated in the design, on top the generic bar ads at the top. For instance, the human figures were wearing clothing by American Eagle Outfitters, so there’s an AE logo and the figures are rendered in a perspective, instead of the 2D simple icons.
  • Simple games like guessing who is illustrated in the panel, and weather fun facts, complicate the interface instead of engaging us . 

Smile factor
Knowing the weather is about knowing what to wear, and Swackett completely understands that.

The Verdict
Swackett is the only weather app that provides easy to understand conditions and complex weather features in one app, with plenty of personality. It’s quick to check what the temperature means to prepare for the day, and you can go more in-depth with detailed stats, forecasts, and radars should you chose to do so.

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WANT MORE? Read my reviews on Weather Dial and Instaweather

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THE FINAL VERDICT. Which apps am I ditching this week?
Although beautiful and informative at one glance, Weather Dial and Haze are worth skipping because they don’t provide any incentive to use them over other weather apps. Swackett, though it’s innovative in terms of informing me on what to wear and current weather conditions, it provides beyond what I want in a weather app.

The winner this week is (….drumroll please….) Good weather. It’s functional (conveys information at a glance) and fun (mini games) at the same time. I love the entertainment, anticipation and discovery aspects of the app. It makes me want to launch the app everyday, just to find out the different games that goes with the current conditions.

Stay tuned for next week’s Best Weather App(s) Contenders.