Let’s not beat around the bush here: The default weather app on your iPhone is — in a word — crap. It gives you a pathetic hourly forecast for the next few hours (which I only discovered how to access recently) and a pretty vague forecast for the next few days, and that’s about it. As a Brit, I want to know exactly what the weather is doing as it dictates pretty much everything I do, what I wear, how I am going to live my life for the next couple of days and so on (OK, the last one was made up, but you get the picture).
You’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of alternatives to the default Weather app so I’ve gone to the trouble of trawling through the App Store and picked out the 10 best for you. Here they are.
Partly Cloudy is currently one of my favourite weather apps in the App Store at the moment, mostly due to its intuitive interface. Rather than present the weather data chronologically in a simple line or table, it uses a clock interface which shows the weather situation outside, temperature, highs and lows, wind force on the Beaufort Scale, and precipitation.
You can view the weather forecast either by the next 12 or 24 hours or next seven days, again in the same clock-style interface and the app supports location services, meaning that it will automatically update depending on whereabouts you are. Temperatures and rainfall can be viewed using the metric system (celsius and millimetres) or imperial/U.S. units (fahrenheit and inches) and the data is downloaded regularly from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute’s (Meteorologisk institutt) servers regularly, ensuring complete accuracy.
Before Partly Cloudy came along, Weather 2x was my app of choice for both my iPhone and iPad, until it was unfortunately usurped! The app displays the conditions outside in full screen with a simple temperature measurement and subtle animations which looks beautiful even on such a small screen. You can view a five-day forecast by simply swiping upwards and a detailed hourly breakdown by swiping to the side. Tapping on the screen brings up more detailed information, such as current visibility, wind speed, humidity and so on.
Weather 2x supports both metric and imperial measurements and you can add either your local weather (which updates depending on where you are) plus multiple cities. There’s also an native iPad version (with Retina display support) and iCloud sync built in to keep your cities and settings in check. You can also share the current weather conditions easily via e-mail or Twitter straight from the app without having to take a screenshot or write anything down.
Swackett X certainly provides a radical new approach to weather forecasting, and anyone who has tried out the Mac version will know exactly what I am talking about. Besides giving you the conditions outside, swackett suggests what exactly you should wear given the weather and displays it in a slick and trendy format.
The X version of swackett features a completely ad-free interface as well as animated “peeps” and high-resolution backgrounds for the current weather conditions. The app comes with two default “peep sets” installed, however, extra ones are available via in-app purchases.
Weather HD 2 is a huge overhaul to the already popular Weather HD app, and the latest version features brand-new weather animations, 3D world weather maps and the new QuickView, so you can see the weather in multiple locations at once. There are also push notifications for severe weather alerts in the US and Europe and plenty of social integration (e.g. you can see the weather in your friends’ cities and so on).
Weather HD 2 uses Weather Underground to get the data, however, you can change this to either AccuWeather or Meteogroup through an in-app purchase. Bear in mind though, the app is a space hogger (the download clocks in at nearly 300 MB) and due to those fancy animations can also eat away at your battery life quite severely, so be warned.
If you live in the UK, then the Met Office is pretty much the de-facto trusted weather service. Their app provides up-to-date weather forecasts and warnings for over 5,000 locations across the UK and gives detailed hourly forecasts and a 5-day overview, including the temperature, feels like temperature, wind speed and direction, UV index, and probability of rainfall.
You can also view weather maps of the UK straight from the app, and all the data is downloaded regularly from the Met Office servers. Although it may lack features seen in other programs, it will provide you with the most accurate weather data and is also completely free (although it’s supported by ads).
WeatherPro is Meteogroup‘s own weather application and markets itself as “Europe’s leading paid-for weather app.” In my experience, it is certainly the most advanced and feature-rich weather app out there in the App Store, with weather reports for over 2 million locations worldwide (not just in Europe), radar images for the USA and Europe, graph forecasts, and much more.
There is also the choice of subscribing via the app to the Premium service ($5.99 for 12 months) which gives hourly updates, ski weather for over 900 resorts, a precipitation-type radar, beach forecasts and more advanced weather reporting. Although the app is extremely feature-rich, it may overwhelm some users and some features, unless you are super-interested in the weather, are actually quite unnecessary.
WeatherLive appears to me to be Apalon’s (the developer) attempt at making a clock and weather widget for iOS, and it certainly looks like that when you open up the app for the first time. However, it is a weather app with dynamic animations that change according to the conditions, a choice between a basic and advanced view and the current temperature can be displayed as an icon badge right on your home screen (which is the closest we are going to get to a widget on iOS for the time being).
WeatherLive features the standard weather information, such as “feels like” temperature, wind direction and speed, humidity, and so on, as well as display the information either in full or in a custom format (e.g. short or long-term forecast, text only and so on). The app can even send you a push notification when the temperature goes negative too, though you’ll probably notice this when you step out of the door anyway.
AccuWeather, from what I’ve heard, is much more trusted in the United States than it is here in the UK (as we’ve got the Met Office to provide us with all our weather-related information) and its mobile app was recently voted the “Best iPhone App” in the 2012 Mobie awards. The app shows up in your Notification Centre, giving you quick and easy access to the daily forecast for that day and also integrates with your calendar, so you can view the 15-day forecast right from your calendar (and of course across all your devices if you sync your calendar with iCloud).
There are also plenty of other useful features, such as animated weather maps and alerts for severe storms such as thunderstorms or tornadoes and lifestyle forecasts, such as the UV index and pollen count. The only negative feature about this app is the intrusive adverts, and unfortunately there’s no way to get rid of them, even via in-app purchase.
The Brits seem to turn to the Met Office and the Americans seem to turn to the Weather Chaneel when it comes to the place to get all your weather-related information, and the iPhone version manages to be just that, but in a more compact version. You’ve got your own choice of backgrounds that reflect the local weather conditions, and in the new version of the app (version 5.0) there is improved location management using TruPoint, which allows for more accurate and precise local weather forecasting.
The app also features push notifications for severe weather and you can take pictures of the weather directly from the app and share them with your friends or publish them on weather.com to show off to everybody! The Weather Channel app is entirely free yet supported by ads and, like AccuWeather, there is unfortunately no way of removing them.
For our last app of this roundup, we’re going back to basics with Solar: Weather, and it seems like this tiny app really is the talking point when it comes to iPhone weather apps. The background of the app changes colour depending on the current weather conditions outside, and there’s no fancy features or settings to mess around with – Solar will simply detect where you are and display the forecast for your region. It’s not ideal for detailed weather forecasts, but for the simple-minded of us who just want to know whether we have to wear a coat or take an umbrella when we step outside, it’s absolutely ideal.
I hope that this roundup has saved you the trouble of sifting through all the weather apps out there in theApp Store and helped you pick one for yourself. Of course, each one has different features and you might have to work through several before you find one that suits you.
In the meanwhile, please feel free to share your favourite weather app in the Comments section below (or, more importantly, if I’ve missed out a really good one!).