Friday, December 12, 2008 at 12:00PM by Johnny5
The iPhone has a built-in app that seemed cool when I first paid a ridiculous amount of money for the thing.With the click of a button, I could check the weather any time I wanted! But as the glistening gleam of the gadget faded fast, I was left with an app that did very little. I had to turn to others for help.
The iPhone Weather app is simple, and I understand why. It’s weather-at-a-glance. I can see current conditions (you know, so I don’t have to get up from the computer in my basement apartment to find out if there is a snowstorm raging outside), and I can see broad outlines of what the rest of the week will bring. I can add other cities and dream of the warm weather in Maui. The problem with the app is that it all ends there. There is no “more information” button or extended forecast or hour-by-hour forecast. You can hit the Yahoo! button and check Yahoo’s news and weather site, but that can be done through Safari. The app seems like it would be such a no-brainer, but it feels like Apple dropped the ball. Enter the third-party apps. There are too many to name, but I’ll focus on the two weather apps I use the most. WeatherBug and Pocket Express.
WeatherBug is a quality, comprehensive weather app, giving us temperature, wind speed (and direction), wind chill, humidity, dew point, highs, lows, gust information, and rain fall all on the main screen. Now I will always know exactly what it feels like outside and can choose to never leave my basement apartment again. Score one for misanthropy! Below this overview we have an overall weather projection for the next couple of days. When you click on these, they give you a “Weather-Channel”-ish prose description of what is going to happen weather-wise. It’s like reading a passage of very boring description from a Dickens novel. Also, on the main screen, you can look at radar and see video forecasts as well as pictures from different areas. Well done, WeatherBug. That is all I could ever need, right? WRONG!
While WeatherBug is a very well-made app, is has one large omission. So I turn to Pocket Express. Pocket Express is an app that deserves (and will receive) a review of its own. In one app we have numerous news, travel, and entertainment resources, but we’ll stick to weather for this article. Clicking weather on the main page brings you to the weather screen, and relief washes over us all. Staring back at us is the all-important hour-by-hour forecast. Now I can easily see an approximation of what time of day it will start to rain, snow, sleet, etc. I also get most of the information I got from WeatherBug (the most useful stuff, at least). There is a link to radar and even a 7-day forecast tab that gives you an overview as well as links to details about the upcoming week’s weather. So, while WeatherBug has a little more information, I find myself checking the Pocket Express weather app more than anything. What I most need to know is when the shit is going to hit the fan, not the current dew point. The golden star goes (surprisingly) to Pocket Express as far as weather goes. Until next time, HAL9000 continues to envy the value of your human interaction.