I’ve been using Windows (phone) since the week it launched in the States and have employed (and purchased) many of the weather apps that are in the store. A few weeks ago I replaced my long-standing favorite weather app with the recently released Appy Weather. It is an impressive piece of work. So much so that I think it may well be the richest app currently available for Windows on your phone – in any category.
What makes Appy Weather different is that it delivers weather information, not weather data.
Most weather apps open with a blaze of glory, some even fly you through the clouds. But, for the most part, though, you land on a screen replete with icons and graphs describing the current conditions in the chosen location. The same for near and longer term forecasts are generally a swipe or two away and, under the ellipsis, several iterations of RADAR and satellite imagery. These are all bits of data that you, the user, must process into the information you need to make your weather-based decisions (what to wear, can I ride in to the office without being rained on…). Appy Weather takes what I think is a more advanced, information-rich approach.
The flash screen at start-up is a little, pulsating thermometer – a nice detail and a harbinger of the experience to come. The app opens to the “Today” screen which has a flat, “Modern” UI-style conditions icon, the temperature and information about the current conditions: “Overcast and a bit windy. Feels like 50?.”
Below that, another weather icon with temperature stamp and detailed information about what will happen in the next hour: “Heavy rain with sunrise in 40 minutes. Will feel like 50?. Should start raining in the next 30 minutes until 8 am.”
Scrolling down to the bottom “card” on the screen gives a general forecast for the rest of the day, again, with clear information: “Mostly cloudy and a bit windy after it stops raining at 8 am. Temperature rising to 57? by 2 pm.
The information presented directly informs weather-based decisions. Users don’t have to interpret a bunch of graphs, symbols and a RADAR image from somewhere in the recent past to decide what to do and what to wear whilst doing it.
Peeling Back the Layers
This is where Appy Weather gets really engaging and why I assert that it may be the most richly done app on Windows for your phone.
Scrolling back up and tapping on the “now” card will open more information about what’s happening right now: cloud cover, wind, humidity, visibility… If there is a storm heading towards the current location, its distance from that location will be noted. Tapping each of the cards below also expands them to reveal more detail. In the “next hour” card, prose meets info-graphic for a detailed look at your weather over the next 60 minutes. The bottom “rest of day” card also expands and provides temperature and precipitation maps along with the option of a columnar forecast by hour. Each hour’s forecast on the graphs or in the column is expandable by tapping for more detail. It is all very information rich and extremely engaging.
Today, Tomorrow & the Weekend Ahead
Swiping a finger across the screen, right to left, brings another, vertically arranged three card set: a summary of today, a summary of tomorrow and the forecast for the weekend, which can be Thursday + Friday, Friday + Saturday or Saturday + Sunday as chosen in the Settings (good thing I don’t have Mondays off). Each of the cards on those screens expands to tell you things like what the highs and lows will be and what it will feel like, when the sun will rise and set, the phase of the moon, the chance of rain, humidity, barometric pressure and UV light exposure number. Again, Appy Weather delivers information through words instead of just data with icons and numbers. As you see in the screenshots, both light and dark themes are available.
The Week Ahead
One more swipe right brings the week ahead in either a graphic format or a scrollable column that is explained in further detail with a tap. There are two levels of available detail here. In the graph, tapping on a day will show a brief forecast, high and low “Feels Like” temperature and probability of precipitation. In the columnar format, tapping on an individual day will significantly increase the amount of information presented to include things like sunrise and set, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and more…
I am continually amazed, as I scan the apps catalogue for Windows on phones, at the underutilization of the OS’s signature component, the Live Tile. Fortunately, Appy Weather uses the tile very well delivering all three size options. The small tile shows weather for the current location. Small Live Tiles don’t flip so there is no option for what to include on the back of the tile. The medium Live Tile gives a current conditions icon, current temperature and time stamp on the front and the next hour and rest of day on the back with two icons and temperatures. Selecting smaller icons for the back adds in the day’s high and low temps and general conditions icon. The Wide tile gives you multiple options of what to show on its front and rear. Again, choosing smaller icons on the wide tile allows more information to be added.
The Live Tiles can also be transparent:
Appy Weather provides you with optional Toast notifications to warn when rain or snow is imminent. For the last several weeks, as a rainy autumn has descended on Southern New England, they seem to be arriving between ten and fifteen minutes prior to the onset of rain.
On days when the rain is on-again, off-again, they show up every hour, which becomes a bit of a bother. It has been very accurate for me in the Northeast region of the United States. The developer says he is working on a control for the frequency of Toast Notifications. Weather information is provided by Forecast and it has been very accurate for my semi-rural location, even usually agreeing with the thermometer outside my back door.
The elegance of Appy Weather can show up on your lock screen as well. You can have that screen show information for the current conditions and the forecast for later in the day and, optionally, add tomorrow’s forecast as well. Lock screen background can be a picture of your choosing, the Bing pic of the day (both may be adjusted for opacity) or a minimalistic fade-up background named “Metro” in the option list. I am a big fan of the Bing Daily option.
As I have mentioned, I believe that Appy Weather may be the most richly done app for Windows on your phone. That said, there are a few features other apps have that Appy Weather does not.
There is no RADAR but, beyond the addiction to bright, moving colors which I share with nearly every other mobile device geek on the planet, I don’t miss it. To me, Appy Weather’s Toast Notifications of impending precipitation provide actionable information that is superior to my interpreting data from a low resolution RADAR animation whose time stamp must also be checked.
At $3.99 (less than a latte’ at Starbucks), Appy Weather is more expensive than most of the other weather apps currently in the Store. Is it that much better? Based on the level of detail the app delivers and the way it does so, I think it is. Again, relative to the price of a cup of coffee, I think Appy Weather is a great investment.
As I said up front, I believe Appy Weather provides the richest user experience available right now for phones running Windows. That’s a pretty amazing achievement for a lowly weather application, especially given the number of them available on the platform. But, it is a great indication of where Windows on your phone is heading and, if like me, you are anxious to have more people with phones running Windows, install Appy Weather and hand your phone to a pal. Be prepared: you might have to beg to get it back.
Appy Weather will run on phones with version 8 or 8.1 of the OS and with 512 Mb or more RAM. I am using Appy Weather 1.1.4 on a Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone 8.1 and the Preview for Developers.
I have no relationship with the developer beyond having contacted him to offer some suggestions and to let him check this review for accuracy.
Appy Weather can be found in the Windows Phone Store here.