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Forecast.io is a fantastic service and a fantastic Web app

Serenity Caldwell | April 23, 2013
Like the quest for perfect weather itself, looking for the perfect weather app can sometimes feel neverending. There are apps that don't give you enough data. There are apps that give you too much. There are apps that use great data for seven-day forecasts, but terrible data for realtime information. And there are apps that simply look terrible when presenting their information. And then, there's Forecast.io--which technically isn't an app at all.

Like the quest for perfect weather itself, looking for the perfect weather app can sometimes feel neverending. There are apps that don't give you enough data. There are apps that give you too much. There are apps that use great data for seven-day forecasts, but terrible data for realtime information. And there are apps that simply look terrible when presenting their information. And then, there's Forecast.io--which technically isn't an app at all.

The skinny

Last year, a few developers got together and put together a project called Dark Sky--a $4 realtime weather app that told you exactly when to expect rain or snow. And not only did it provide this information, it was accurate; more often than not, it was right, too. Dark Sky became the app many of us popped open to see if we could flee a restaurant in-between showers or if we had time to make a grocery run before the snowstorm hit.

But try as I might, it was hard to justify having Dark Sky replace my default weather app. Knowing the current weather was great, but sometimes you need more comprehensive data: I can't accurately pack for a week-long trip to California if I only know how warm it's going to be for the first day.

Enter Forecast.io: all the realtime action of Dark Sky mixed with 17 additional weather service forecasts. The developers of Dark Sky put their heads together and came up with a system that allowed them put many of the most prominent weather forecasting systems to work alongside their own product--and they did it entirely on the Web.

The many faces of Forecast.io

Visit Forecast.io on your PC, Mac, or iPad, and you'll see a beautifully-designed HTML5 website with a local, regional, and global radar map, offering precipitation and temperature averages along with a full seven-day forecast.

You can even enable a beta feature called Time Machine, which allows you to see forecasts from the distant past into the far-distant future. (I was able to travel as far back as February 5, 1943, all the way to December 31, 9999--though I suspect meteorologist data for 9999 isn't as exact as the day claims.)

Visit the website on an iPhone or iPod touch, however, and the fun begins. Forecast.io first prompts you to add a website bookmark to your home screen; once you do so and tap it to open, you're brought to what, by all appearances, should be an app. And it is, sort-of: It's a Web-based iOS app, built entirely in HTML5, Javascript, and CSS.

 

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