Feb 17 AT 6:40 PM Admin 64 Comments

Best Weather App for Android

There are many weather applications on the Android Market, but which is the best?  At this point you can’t pick a winner, but I believe that is actually a good thing.  There are several apps which will apply to different groups of people and they can all thrive side-by-side.  Each one can be very valuable in certain situations, but they all have room for improvement.  I encourage you to read my thoughts and I will share with you how you can help in making each app the best that it can be.
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Depending on your job and life style, the weather can have a big impact on your daily schedule.  I constantly travel for work and having real time access to forecast information is vital.  Every day I check the weather on my G1 and I have used almost every weather application in the Android Market.  There are so many weather apps available, but today I have chosen to highlight the top 3 and discuss the advantages and short comings of each.

The Weather Channel Home Screen

The Weather Channel Home Screen

The Weather Channel

This is the number one downloaded application in the Android Market and I use it almost every day.  Several updates have been released since the program launched and they continue to improve performance.  There is no website for the development of the app, but if you send an email to the developer you can get a response.

What they got right:

  • My Places - This allows me to see the current weather of all the cities I travel to on one screen.  I can easily click each one to get more details
  • 10 Day Forecast - This is the longest forecast I have seen.  Most of the others are up to 7 days.
  • Video - Each morning in bed I can watch a video forecast for my area.  In larger cities I visit like Austin, they have city level video that is constantly updated.
  • Map Layers -  There are 8 layers offered which is more than most apps.  I like checking the temperature maps whenever a cold front blows in.
  • 36 Hour Updates - Other apps have this but I like how it is presented here.  You can see the high, lows, and conditions for the next 3 half days.  Perfect abbreviated format.

Areas they are lacking:

  • No Radar Loops - There currently are no loops offered for the map layers.
  • Slow Map Loads -  The map layers work great on WiFi, but on Edge the performance is bad.  Either the map won't load or the application is sluggish and force closes.
  • Motion Gestures - When you are in a city page, any finger gesture to the right or left will change the city you are viewing.  I accidently change cities a lot when I am simply trying to scroll down the page to see more.  This is bad design and needs to be fixed.


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WeatherBug Home Screen

WeatherBug Home Screen

WeatherBug

Many years ago I was a PC technician, so when I see the name WeatherBug I think spyware.  To be fair though, they have a nice Android application.  The interface is designed well for the mobile platform and they include some features that no one else has.  For example, you can share your weather updates with friends using Twidroid.

What they got right:

  • Notifications - The latest version shows the current conditions directly in the notifications.  It is updated based on your location, so you can easily see the current temperature and conditions without any clicks.
  • Design - The UI has nice slide animations between the different screens.  You can quickly slide between day and hourly forecst.
  • Live Weather Cams - I don't really use this feature much, but it is unique to this app.  You can view weather cams and some have the ability to rotate.  They also offer video, but this feature fails to work for me on the current version.

Areas they are lacking:

  • Notification Settings - There is no option to control the frequency of the temperature notifications.  I constantly was looking at my phone and see it refreshing.  More control is needed to improve battery life.  I liked this feature but I had to turn it off.
  • Ads- Why include WeatherBug ads on the WeatherBug app?  I guess they are just holding space for ads.  Sometimes the app slows down while the ad tries to load.
  • No Radar Loops - Again, I like to see the current radar loop for my location when I am driving.  This lets me know if I am about to drive through a big storm.

iMap Weather Home Screen

iMap Weather Home Screen

iMap Weather

iMap Weather is the only Android application I have found that can provide radar loops on the go.  I have used this many times while I'm driving down the highway.  I hate driving in the rain and it has helped me avoid some big storm cells.  This client is one of the most basic, but it just works.

What they got right:

  • Radar Loops - Actual radar loops that load while I'm on the go.  I keep this app installed just for this feature alone.
  • Follow Me - This allows the application to show your location on the map and it scrolls as you move.  Very helpful for driving when I am about to head into a big storm.
  • Quick Zoom - I like their ability to zoom the map to continent, state, city, and street level with 1 click.
  • Performance - This is a very simple and clean app.  If you are not looking for all the extra features, I would suggest this app.  From my experience it has the best maps performance while I'm driving and using the Edge network.

Areas they are lacking:

  • Limited Map Layers - Currently you can only view radar and lightning strikes.  I would love to see loops of different overlays.
  • Home Screen - The way each city is displayed, you can only fit two cities at a time on the home screen.  With The Weather Channel, I can do 6.

So which weather application do you prefer?  It really depends on how you check the weather and which features you need.  Each app has its own unique features and I have to rely on multiple programs to meet my demands.  Currently, I use The Weather Channel for all my forecast information.  Nothing comes close to me for the 10 day forecast, video updates, and map layers available.  If they add loops in a future release and improve the performance, I might be able to use it exclusively.  As stated earlier, I keep iMap Weather just for the animated maps.

So while the perfect app does not exist yet, I am more than satisfied with what is available to me.  I never imagined any of these features on my old phone.  Now that I have the instant access to weather information, I don't think I'll ever be able to go without.  The increased competition can only help the future development of the weather apps and I look forward to see what new features are added.  I encourage you to try another weather app even if you have found one you like.  You might find a new feature you can't live without.
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If you experience any issues with an app or have feature suggestions, I encourage you to email the developer using the email link found in the Market.  I have been doing this not only for weather apps, but all apps I use.  I am pleasantly surprised with how often I get an actual response.  These guys like to hear from their customers, so take advantage of it.  Sadly, none of these three I covered today have a website for you to track their progress.  I have requested it to several devs and I'm hoping we see it one day.

If you would like to see more screen shots, please check back later.  My gallery is not quite working, but it will be fixed.  Same goes for a lot of other stories as well.

[p.s. accuweather, i love ur website and the firefox plugin and all but your android app sux...]

Author info coming soon...

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