Knowing what the local weather is like not only helps you plan your day better, but also makes for great small talk! If the weather in your area is unpredictable, a good app can give you the low-down on temperature, precipitation and snow conditions around you, so you can dress appropriately, plan your commutes and travel, and schedule your appointments to avoid getting caught in the rain.
There are tons of weather apps to choose from in the App Store, and a lot of them look good and offer a range of features. But which ones will actually save you time, keep you informed and prepare you for your day? We took a look at some of the frontrunners in this category to find the best of the lot, with our criteria for selection including:
- Types of weather information available — humidity, wind speed, pressure, and so on
- Layout and design – Is the info easy to comprehend with just a quick glance? Do you need to learn a new interface to use the app? Is everything easily readable both indoors and outdoors?
- Ease of use – one-handed operation to check the day’s weather, forecasts and maps is ideal; overcomplicated UIs lose this battle.
It was interesting such a diverse range of approaches to the same problem. A good weather app is one that you don’t have to launch several times a day – an update or two should get you through 24 hours safe and sound. Our favorites from the App Store helped us do just that, and of course, intelligent design played a huge role in determining which ones came out on top. So without further ado, here are the best weather apps for iPhone.
It might look a bit busy at first glance, but give it a second and you’ll find that Weather Line gives you a very clear picture of the temperature and precipitation for the day, week and month. By tracking the line, you’ll be able to instantly see if there are any major deviations in conditions, aka nasty surprises. Using text labels for pertinent info like humidity and wind speed and average dry/fog/snow days, the app is easy to read on every screen.
What’s really clever about Weather Line is that it uses the same ‘line’ element for hourly, daily and monthly forecasts, and the same layout for additional info for these three forecast types too. This consistency makes the app easy to get used to, while readability is aided by simple, elegant typography. The interface could use a bit more contrast for increased readability in sunlight, but other than that, but other than that we have no complaints.
Weather Line costs $3, and you for that price get an excellent UI and detailed weather info by the hour. Users in areas with heavy rain might miss a map display for precipitation, but there’s a nifty graph you can pull up from the bottom to find out when it’s going to pour, and how much. For simple weather info you can wrap your head around, we recommend Weather Line.
➤ $3 – Buy now
Want more than just high/low temperature? Perfect weather has you covered. Developed by Contrast (the folks behind Launch Center Pro), the app looks great and works really well, pulling data from NOAA. Fire up the app and you’ll get a forecast for the day and week, plus a map to visualize clouds and rain coming down in the area in a split view layout. Tapping the high-low temperature readout for the day expands the info pane to display a temperature graph, that can also show rainfall info down to the minute. You can also view alerts for severe weather in your location.
Clear typography and simple icons allow for high readability wherever you are, and combined with the animated map, should help ready you for whatever Mother Nature has in mind. It’s a lot to take in at once, but for those who need comprehensive data for conditions around them, you can’t do much better than Perfect Weather — but only if you’re in the US.
➤ $3 – Buy now
Striking a great balance between information density and readability, Dark Sky puts current temperature and precipitation readouts front and center, and reveals additional data when you tap or swipe. Everything from rain forecasts to humidity and wind speed to updates for the coming week are easy to digest, and never feel overwhelming thanks to clever layouts. With a focus on rain alerts, the app can also send you notifications before it starts to pour.
Dark Sky also has maps for temperature and precipitation, and weather geeks will love the detailed animated globe you can pan and zoom around. but is only available in the US, UK and Ireland for now. We like how the app is great for daily use as well as for harsh conditions when you need more info. However, it’s also expensive at $4, so unless you’re in the market for a quality weather + radar app, you can check out our other picks.
➤ $3.99 – Buy now
This is hands-down the best-looking weather app out there, thanks to gorgeous current-location-based image backgrounds pulled from Flickr and minimalist typography. But Yahoo! Weather is more than just a pretty face: the app displays a wide range of info as you pull up cards, so you’re never overwhelmed by stats you don’t want to see. It’s hard to get lost in the app, and you can even rearrange the info cards to quickly see what you need to with a single tap. It even includes a map view, so power users can behind this without spending a dime.
What I really liked about Yahoo! Weather is how it makes itself useful even when you don’t open the app — in a snap, you can set up twice-daily notifications to update you about the weather in various locations. This works great when you want to know what to wear before you leave for work, and what conditions to expect on your way home after. For the great price of free, Yahoo! Weather can’t be beat.
➤ Free – Buy now
What about the rest?
We tried scores of apps for this roundup, and our takeaway is that people around the world engage with weather info very differently. As such, the App Store has a wide range of apps to cater to every need. If you’re looking for a really stripped-down single-screen app to just tell you what the current weather is where you’re standing, Conditions ($1) keeps things simple enough to glance at and get back to work.
We heard good things about Check The Weather ($5) and found it to be very readable at all times, but certainly didn’t do anything to make us recommend it at its asking price.
Forecast.io offers a great web app (besides powering apps like Weather Line) that you can install on your home screen, and works very well indeed. The UI is intuitive and features great icons and type, along with detailed info for the next 7 days as well as regional and global weather conditions on a map. Plus it’s free! Forecast easily gives both Check The Weather and Dark Sky a run for their money, and only loses out on the notifications front.
What about the built-in Weather app on iOS, you ask? It’s great for casual users who don’t need detailed information, because the UI is geared towards getting you in and out of the app as quickly as possible — and looking great while doing so, with richly animated backgrounds that show you what the weather is like. However, it’s not always readable in bright sunlight and doesn’t offer detailed information, and so didn’t really make the cut. That being said, it does a fine job covering the basics.
What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods? And what apps are you using to keep an eye on it? Let us know in the comments!