It's summer, which means if you're anything like me, you spend more time than you'd like your boss to know furiously checking the weekend forecast during the workday.
Sure, you might visit the always-distracting and cluttered weather.com on your computer or tap on Apple's 73 and Sunny icon on your iPhone, but a range of other apps for the iPhone and Android phones combines detailed weather information with beautiful design.
In my journey to find the perfect weather app -- and by perfect, I mean the one that tells me it will be 85 and sunny this weekend -- I've come up with the following list of best weather apps. I've also learned that no app will ever be as good as a real-life meteorologist.
There are lots of weather apps that provide detailed forecasts, including the Weather Channel app and WeatherBug, but Accuweather has the cleanest design of the traditional weather apps while still providing radar maps, daily forecasts and metrological data.
The background of the app changes according to the forecast outside, and it also translates the weather into dummy terms. For instance, 95 and 55 percent humidity is translated into: "today is a poor day for outdoor fitness." It also has a neat rating system, informing you if the weather is low, fair or excellent for dog walking, hair frizz risk and barbecuing.
The Android version is particularly good; it provides a nice selection of resizable homescreen widgets.
But sometimes you just want to do away with all the clutter of forecast grids, radars and the abundance of numbers for a really clean and simple design that just tells you the temperature and 24-hour forecast.
Solar is mostly eye-candy with the 24-hour weather information you need. The brightly colored iPhone app shows just the current temperature and weather at launch, but hold down and drag up on the screen and it will cycle through what it will look like minute-by-minute for the next 24 hours. Pinch in on the screen and you can add multiple locations. No, it's not the most informative app out there, but sometimes all you want is some simplicity.
Yahoo, on the other hand, gives you the eye-candy and the information. Available for the iPhone and Android, the newly redesigned app pulls in Flickr images to match the weather and time of day at your location. Swipe up and you'll get more detailed information, including a five-day forecast, a radar map (only available for iPhone), and sun and moon information. Of all the apps featured in this article and the video above, Yahoo's app has become the app I check most often.
That is if it isn't supposed to rain out. Then I find myself frantically looking at Dark Sky on my iPhone. No, this isn't a 3-D game, but instead an app dedicated to providing you information about precipitation. Launch the app and it will tell you whether it is raining now and whether it will rain in the next hour. If it is going to rain, along the top of the app it shows the level of rain expected in an animated graph.
If you are looking for more detailed information, you can tap the radar to see the radar progression. You can also form your own weather report; shake the phone and you can submit a report of the precipitation near you. It's a great option in the mornings to find out whether it's going to rain on your commute. Unfortunately, it's not available for Android.
|Eye in Sky|
But Android phone owners have Eye in the Sky, a notably clean and simple weather app to fall back on. While there are the usual weather choices for Android phones -- Accuweather, Weather Channel, WeatherBug, etc. -- this app is perfect for the person who wants the details in an organized and minimalist design. You can even customize the weather icons you like within the app.
Like Accuweather, it also has a good selection of widgets. There is a free version but it's worth the $2 to keep the tidy app free of messy ads.
For some people, howver, all these apps are just like a light drizzle. For the hardcore weather nerds and meteorologists, there are a slew of advanced radar apps. And, according to ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee, Radar Scope is the one to get. The app displays NEXRAD Level 3 radar data (told you it was for real weather experts!) and ,you can select one of the 156 different radar sites and pan around your location. There's no forecast information because this is meant for people like Zee, who are creating their own forecasts and watching up-to-the-minute storm patterns.
Zee was actually able to tell me that it would rain in the next 20 minutes using the app; something only the Dark Sky app was able to do. "That's the thing with all these apps, they are hedging their bets. They are just saying some time during the day it is going to rain," Zee told me. "If you want exact, you have to know me."