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Mobile App Review: Weather Apps, Part 1
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Mobile App Review: Weather Apps, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Weather Apps, Part 1

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Weather Apps, Part 1

How’s the Weather Up There?

In one of his segments on 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney once said about weather forecasts that most of us just want to know whether or not we need to bring a coat. Those of us falling into this group can easily get by with the pre-bundled weather apps that come with our smartphones, or we can skip the apps altogether and simply ask Siri, “Is it going to rain today?”

Still, even the most casual of weather forecast observers might find something to love in these third-party apps, which offer a range of lovely-to-look-at graphics and animation, massively crowd-sourced data, and super-specific weather conditions for exactly where they are and exactly where they’re going. For those who need a deeper dive, some apps come with satellite imagery and the sort of data that allow do-it-yourself interpretation of unfolding conditions. Wherever we fall on the do-I-need-a-coat vs. barometer-watcher spectrum, the weather affects us all in daily, immediate ways, and there are mobile apps to make that reality more interesting to think about.

Do I Have Time for a Quick Walk to the Mall?

A weather forecast on the local TV news is kind of local, but it still tries to cover a region made up of several regions where differences in terrain can mean widely varied conditions. Even in less variable locales, it is the nature of conditions to be fluid, moving from northwest to southeast, for example, which means that it starts and stops raining at different times in different parts of town. To address this reality, many of the good third-party apps offer hyper-local weather conditions with hour-by-hour and sometimes minute-by-minute forecasts. Among these, Dark Sky (Android and iOS) is the standard, the model imitated by many of the others.

Dark Sky identifies your exact location—even identifying your street address, or an address very, very close to you—and gives you the rundown of current conditions and expected conditions in the very near future, or across several days if you prefer. You can check the expected weather at the mall, and determine whether you have time to make it there without getting caught in the rain, or you can enter the address of your friend’s backyard barbecue this weekend and offer a heads-up that an indoor game night might work out better. Dark Sky’s best feature is the push notification informing you ahead of time that it’s about to rain where you are. Those wishing to get more involved will find lovely radar animations so they can see for themselves how the weather is changing where they are.

The app is free for Android, but premium features, including the minute-by-minute forecasts, cost $2.99 per year. Apple users pay a one-time price of $3.99 for all features.

Similar apps worth a look are Yahoo Weather, which offers real photos of the area you’re in, thanks to Yahoo’s owning the Flickr photo service; 1Weather, by the 1Louder company, which always does nice work and interacts well with its customers; and Weather Live, which gives you current data overlaid upon animated backgrounds reflecting the immediate weather. Each has its own look and feel while offering similar information. Each is worth at least a one-week try-out, especially since these last three are free.

In a future review, we’ll look at weather apps designed for lifestyle integration and cuteness, plus a few apps for the serious, do-it-yourself-forecasters.

 

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Mobile App Review: Weather Apps, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

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