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The best weather apps for iPhone and iPad

Michael Simon | Jan. 28, 2015
Of all the different kinds of apps that I regularly use on my iPhone, I probably spend the least amount of time with weather ones. That's not to say I don't like them, quite the contrary: I've downloaded so many of them over the years, I could probably go a year without needing to open the same one twice. But no matter which one I'm using, my time with it is relatively brief--I check the temperature, maybe scan the forecast, and close.

As much of a live infographic as it is a forecasting app, Weathertron doesn't just tell you the conditions — you'll quickly see the temperature and a general overview of what's outside, but it takes a bit of a close study to understand how to read its hourly breakdown of the day's cloud cover and precipitation. Even after you grasp it, however, there's nothing casual about Weathertron, and that's what makes it so great. Sure, the fluid nature of its UI can get frustrating at times, but you're unlikely to find a more stimulating weather app out there. 

Best newcomer: Weather Cal

New and interesting weather apps are constantly popping up, and with such stiff and varied competition, it can be hard to get noticed. But Weather Cal ($3) is off to a great start — and I felt it deserved some recognition here. More than just another pretty face, the app is something of a personal meteorological assistant, incorporating your Calendar events into its forecast for a complete picture of the week ahead. 

Weather Cal's interface is as thoughtful as its concept, with a muted background color gradient that changes to reflect the current position of the sun. Dragging your finger along the curve at the bottom of the screen gives you a minute-by-minute forecast of the next seven days, and you'll get some detailed stats by tapping the precipitation circle at the top right. The Calendar integration isn't quite as smooth as it could be — accessible via a separate screen that doesn't have the same polish as the main interface — but it's an example of the attention to detail that helps make Weather Cal an especially strong candidate even in such a crowded field.

Others of note 

Actually, crowded field might be a bit of an understatement. Even if you're not interested in any of my selections, you won't have to look too long to find a capable and competent weather app that fits your budget. At the free end of the spectrum, there are numerous ad-supported apps out there, the most decent of which being The Weather Channel and Yahoo Weather. Both feature very nice interfaces and detailed stats that tastefully work ads into their designs without relying on unsightly banners.

Also free (with an annual $3 in-app subscription to remove ads) is the very popular (and very cluttered) WeatherBug, but if you're looking for something a whole lot more minimal, there's the exquisite Solar. You'll have to forego common data points like humidity, wind speed and precipitation, but what you get in return is a brilliant impersonation of the sky above you. As you slide your finger along the screen, the color gradually changes to reflect the position of the sun, turning your phone into a brilliant color-scape that's like looking through at a living abstract painting.


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