App review : UK Weather

by +Robert Caldecott

I came across this app via a fellow Google+ user (+Mark Stronge IIRC) and it’s very impressive. The app uses data from the UK Met Office, same as the BBC and other large media organisations. This means it is likely to be accurate seeing as the Met Office have a supercomputer or two at their disposal.

The app is available free with ads or you can pay £2.50 for an ad-free version which also adds map/radar support. £2.50 is too expensive for many in my opinion and by all accounts the ads are quite annoying, but at least you have the choice. It’s feature rich and, for UK users at least, it might tick all the boxes.

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“…It’s feature rich and, for UK users at least, it might tick all the boxes…”

Accuracy is superb, thanks to the provider. One nice touch is that it will tell you which weather station it used for the observations. In my case it’s Lyneham (until recently the site of a large RAF base) which is about 3 miles away. I’ve had this app installed for 2 or 3 months now and it’s nearly always spot-on.

The main app opens with a “Current” screen which displays your location, current conditions, temperature (current, min/max and “feels like”), rain probability, wind speed, humidity, sunrise/sunset times and moon phase. At the bottom of the screen it shows conditions for the rest of the day in 3 hour intervals and a “Next 48 Hours” tab.

The Current page background changes depending on current conditions, so you’ll get a nice sky-blue background if it’s clear, a rainfall image if it’s raining. etc. These images also change at night. Another nice touch.

You can also add locations using a search button at the top or refresh the weather forecast. Both of these use Windows Phone-style buttons which look a little out of place in an Android app but generally speaking this is a very polished UI with the sort of attention to detail that fellow developers like myself have come to admire.

At the bottom of the screen are some additional tabs that will display a 5 day forecast, a textual forecast for the next 30 days and an Observations page which shows actual readings in 3 hour intervals for the last 48 hours. The former is a very nice touch – how cold did it get last night? This will tell you.

At the top is a drop-down that lets you access Settings, the About page, etc. There is also a Maps option in the paid version which displays cloud cover/rain radar. I’m not sure why this isn’t an extra tab on the bottom though as it could easily be missed.

You also get support for official Met Office weather warnings which can be displayed both on the main page and in the Android status bar. Very, very useful. We’ve had some weather extremes of late – snow, heavy rain, high winds – so being notified of this in advance is a genuinely useful feature. You can keep your golfing and beach forecasts quite frankly as weather warnings are much more useful. What’s more you get to choose which alerts you want to see – Red, Orange, Yellow, or none.

The Settings page is very comprehensive. Along with the usual things like update frequency, you can also choose which columns to display for the 5-day forecast, which page to open by default, whether to wake the device for updates, etc. Good job.

Finally, you get a set of widgets. This is the only part of the app which is a bit of a let down to be honest as the widgets aren’t particularly special from a UI standpoint. You get a 4×2 HTC Sense style combined weather/clock – which, like Sense itself, is looking very 2010, a 4×1 5 day forecast (which is a bit cluttered) and a 2×1 widget. If only the same level of care was taken when designing these as for the main app, it could of been full marks! Hopefully this will improve.

So, a most impressive weather app. The price is high if you don’t want ads which I think would put people off, but as weather apps go, it’s top-class. Personally I cannot stand ads so am happy to cough up.

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Pros: Accurate, packed with useful information, nice UI
Cons: Pro version is expensive, dated looking widgets

Overall 9 out of 10

Download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cat.joanpujol.eltemps.android.uk

 

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