WTHR and Nubilous: Simple, Beautiful Weather Apps

When it comes to checking the weather on your iPhone, there are way too many solutions. You can use something like Wunderground to get the most accurate reports, or Weather 2x, a less precise and more beautiful alternative. Then there’s the boring old app that comes with your iPhone. It has a rather stale design and doesn’t offer many details, but that’s mainly because it’s taking a minimal approach to things.

Nubilous and WTHR are two minimal, but beautiful weather apps. Is one better than the other, though? Let’s find out.

WTHR

The first pick is “weather,” just shortened and stylized with capitals. Its name suggests simplicity, and that’s just what the app itself exhibits throughout. I did say that both apps are simple, and while that’s true, this happens to be the most minimal of the two.

Information Offered is Adequate, But Could Be Better

I said that both apps are minimal, but WTHR is actually more so than Nubilous. In fact, it doesn’t even support multiple cities. The developer wants to make sure that you get a nice experience that’s very, very simple and nothing more. I suppose this is a good thing for users who just want to take a quick look at what the weather currently is. WTHR offers little icons for sun, wind, clouds and other common conditions.

One of the major issues with WTHR is that the only source you can use for weather is your current location. It’s limiting, and doesn’t let you check the weather where you’ll be traveling soon, which is something every weather app should be able to do.

A little lighthearted for my taste.

A little lighthearted for my taste.

I couldn’t get a lot of diversity in conditions during my use of WTHR because where I live it’s been sunny for the past week. And in the next week, it will be the same with highs of 83º Fahrenheit, according to the app’s sources. Strangely, it displayed high temperatures as being 83º five out of seven days in the forecast with the other two being 82º. This, combined with the fact that every icon in the next seven days was sunny, seemed a bit suspicious.

I didn’t want to simply assume that the app was giving me the wrong information, so I headed over to Wunderground since it’s the most reliable provider I’ve used. Unfortunately, it showed that the last two days of the 7-day forecast would have thunderstorms, unlike WTHR’s report. The daily high temperatures were only a few degrees off, but the lows were as much as eight degrees different than that of Wunderground’s. Predicting the weather can be a bit tricky, but a source that differs this much from another seems a little questionable in my opinion.

Other than [possibly inaccurate] high and low temperatures, icons that show you what it’s like outside, text that reiterates what the icons told you, and a pleasant user interface, WTHR doesn’t have much to offer. The only toggle in the app is one to alternate between Fahrenheit and celsius. There is a little reload button if you need to fetch the latest data, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find something different from what’s currently on the screen. Nubilous, on the other hand, brings some extra features to the table and still manages to keep the minimal design.

The User Interface Lacks Contrast

“Simple” doesn’t quite describe WTHR. In fact, the only word that does is “minimal.” This app is a shade of white with little contrast. There’s no room for such things as a hint of dark grey remember, because the app is trying to be simple and too much contrast just doesn’t make it seem that way. I, for one, am not a fan of WTHR’s brutal simplicity. I’m one for contrast; not heavy, just more than what’s found in this app.

The problem with having such a lack of contrast is that you’re going to be squinting to see some of the information. This all depends on your surroundings of course, yet I found that even indoors, WTHR’s extremely minimal user interface was irritating. I wish it were more viewable without needing to adjust the brightness on my iPhone. I think the simple approach would be fine if the designer gave it some darker shades on the temperatures and clouds in the 7-day view.

Nubilous

When I first heard of this app, I wondered about the name. What is “nubilous,” after all? Since my Mac’s dictionary was reluctant to find its definition, I headed to the Web to discover that it means “cloudy or foggy.” That seems appropriate and it fits the app’s icon perfectly; the interface is a bit on the grim side as well, so one could infer fog.

There’s More Info to Glean

Unlike WTHR, Nubilous has a six-day forecast and offers more information than the average temperatures. Tapping a day will display the conditions for its morning, noon, evening and night. It’s nice to have this extra information, even if it’s just a little bit. I think that it’s the perfect amount of information to provide in a “simple” weather app.

A bit more customization.

A bit more customization.

As for accuracy, Nubilous reported no thunderstorms for the days that Wunderground did. It’s sad to see that both these apps aren’t even showing that there will be clouds in the sky on those days. I don’t know what service they use, but we have clouds in our skies a good two or three days a week in the summer.

Again, this app’s weather reports weren’t the most accurate. I found it to be two degrees off every day of the week. For most people, this isn’t a big deal and it probably doesn’t sway you away from the app, but I just wanted to point it out anyway. I’m not sure what Nubilous uses to collect weather data so I can’t really say how reliable things are, but a two-degree deficiency doesn’t seem to be too bad when compared to WTHR’s eight-degree problem.

User Interface

One of the things I really like about Nubilous is that it completely contrasts WTHR’s design. I wish the developer of WTHR would have realized that a dark theme could be nice for those who don’t like the light one. It’s nice to have options you know, but Nubilous doesn’t offer that either. I think it does fine without them anyway, though.

Humor and beauty: a great combination.

Humor and beauty: a great combination.

The smooth, modern blue and dark gray theme that Nubilous has adopted fits it well. I can see everything clearly without squinting and it doesn’t hurt my eyes as much. I also like the blue icon that shows the condition of current weather, in case you were too indolent to look out the window. The layout of the whole app is more like the iPhone’s stock Weather app and has a beautiful simplicity to it. I have nothing to complain about here.

Conclusion

Honestly, neither one of these simple clients is my dream app. Both of them have questionable weather reports and Nubilous is the only one with a fair taste in design. If I had to choose, WTHR would be out right away. It’s a great app and all, but I think it’s just too simple and needs some tweaks in its design. I’d like to see a dark theme in addition to the light one and vice versa in regards to Nubilous. With some little modifications here and there, they could both be capable apps.


  • http://www.jessevirgil.com Jesse Virgil

    There seems to be a flood of minimal weather apps lately (WTHR, Nubilous, Solar, Weather Neue, Clear Weather, etc.) and most of them are nice to look at but don’t offer a lot in the way of substance (Solar’s animated weather effect is rather cool though). Personally, I’m happy using the weather widget in Notification Center to get a quick glance at current weather conditions. If I want to find out more info I turn to The Weather Channel app for alerts and radar.

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      Yeah, it is good but Yahoo! has mediocre forecasts.

  • Jonathan Garro

    I’ve tried tons of weather apps and its amazing how no one has found a great solution to such a simple concept.

    Though it’s focused on rain forecasts, I have taken to using Dark Sky as my go-to forecast app. It is very accurate because it only looks at the next 24 hours (with the best forecasts one hour in advance). If I need a guess about the weather three days from now the stock weather app does a serviceable job.

    I think many people (myself included) need to accept that having hyper-accurate forecasts doesn’t actually affect your behavior. I like knowing before I leave the house if I need an umbrella or a coat that day. That’s it.

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