Check The Weather is one of those rare apps that gets a lot of attention for outdoing Apple at their own game. These are apps like iA Writer — apps that are minimalist but focused, and excel at the things they do.
Check The Weather fits those criteria. Not only is it a great way to do what the app’s title suggests, but it’s also managed to replace the stock Weather app on my iPhone. For me, this is the first time one app has ever wholly replaced any of the stock Apple apps. Let’s find out why Check The Weather is the only weather app worth your hard-earned cash.
Design, Design, Design
Check The Weather is wonderfully simple. The app displays all the information you’re likely to need whenever you pop it open: the location, temperature (and occasionally what it “feels like,” depending on wind chill), an hourly forecast in a visual graph, the time of the sunrise and sunset, and the three-day forecast.
If you want to see additional information, swiping from the left reveals a more detailed hourly forecast and swiping from the right brings up the long-term forecast. Swiping from the bottom accesses Dark Sky in the United States, but I live in Canada and was unable to test that option. Reportedly, it works very well.
The important part of all of this information, despite the fact that the app is dealing with a lot of it, is that it never feels like there’s a lot of information being thrown at you. The app is beautiful. The typography is crisp and the chosen fonts are perfect (although you can choose from a small selection of other fonts). The weather icons and symbols are gorgeous, far nicer than anything Apple has ever created. This is a weather app for design snobs, evidenced by the fact that a list of the chosen fonts and symbols is available on app creator David Smith’s website.
One other thing worth mentioning: for the visually impaired, David Smith has his app ready to go and with complete voiceover access — so much so that he claims he’s turned the app into a “personal weatherman.” His commitment to accessibility should be applauded and gets him some massive bonus points.
But The Data is What Counts
I’m the perfect candidate to review this app because I live in a part of Ontario, Canada that is so completely unpredictable that weather analysts often don’t know what’s going on outside their windows. We can get snow in one half of the city and rain in another. Last summer, a huge storm a couple blocks away took out power for more than half the city. I never saw a drop.
With that out of the way, I have yet to see a weather app that gets it right more often than not (even for current weather conditions). Apple’s stock Weather app pulls its information from Yahoo. In my estimation, it predicts the weather about as accurately as I predict the NASDAQ (I don’t even bother trying anymore).
Check The Weather is, to me, significantly more accurate than the stock Weather app. I understand that, particularly in my area, no weather report will ever be perfect, but this gets it right more often than most. It updates every two minutes, and never stalls on me. It always works without a hitch. These things are rarities for me.
I always found Check The Weather’s forecast to be more accurate than the stock Weather app’s; even the temperature (despite only usually being a couple degrees different) felt more precise. I can only really go by feeling in this case; I don’t have a super-precise method to qualitatively measure the temperature, but it felt more accurate. I also really appreciated the wind chill reports; knowing what it “feels like” outside is very often way more important than any other data to me — particularly in the blustery autumn season. These things all outshone the stock app by a significant margin.
It’s worth mentioning that Check The Weather also contacts the servers and gets weather updates every two minutes. Some mainstream weather apps might only update four times an hour, so this is a significant improvement. These updates aren’t pushed to your phone unless you open up the app again, so Check The Weather doesn’t consume battery power while running in the background. It’s incredible how often the forecast can change in even fifteen minutes, especially my area, and I have a feeling I won’t be the only person who appreciates this frequent updating.
My one complaint is for international users. It’s a huge shame that people who live outside the United States (like myself) don’t get access to Dark Sky. It looks beautiful, functional, and like it adds one more layer to the app for serious weather geeks. I don’t think that’s the fault of David Smith, but it’s worth noting that I have Dark Sky Envy all the same.
My Personal Usage
It’s interesting to really compare the design of Check The Weather and Apple’s own Weather app. The overwhelmingly dark colours Apple uses for their app have given me pause on more than one occasion; Weather and Stocks were the two black sheep of the stock apps.
Check The Weather takes this in a refreshingly different direction: the off-white background, unique typography and simple symbols are a clear representation of what David Smith thinks Apple should have done to begin with. It’s hard to argue with him. Check The Weather seems like refreshingly the opposite of Apple’s app: instead of being gloomy and dark, it’s bright and colourful. It’s a psychologically different outlook on the weather.
When I reviewed this app, I got into the weather like I never had before. I obsessively checked every twenty minutes to compare the data presented by Check The Weather and the stock app. I got excited when an update was pushed out that displayed wind speeds (ironically during Sandy). I don’t normally customize my home screen too much, but I hid Apple’s app and put Check The Weather front and centre after less than an hour and I haven’t looked back since.
To me, Check The Weather is everything I wish Apple’s stock app is. It offers a simple and clean design with just enough depth to satisfy the majority of iPhone users. Dark Sky integration in the U.S. ought to be satisfy the most demanding of weather geeks, but international users like myself have a lot to get excited about, too. For many people, I think Check The Weather can be a more accurate, better designed, and ultimately, more useful weather app than Apple’s stock offering. I never used to love checking the weather, but now I’m a convert. I never thought I would say this about a $2 weather app, but Check The Weather comes highly recommended.