It is not very often, if at all, that I let you know about a new weather website that is so different to the rest that it is worth a review of its own.
A couple of days ago, forecast.io launched and with it, comes a completely new way of interacting with the weather. This website is global, universally accessible, and has a unique “time machine” feature that can show the weather for any date and time, through the use of historical weather station archives.
On the desktop we are presented with a radar type display with local, regional and global options along with a summary of the current, the next hour, the next day and the next week’s forecast. A small grey “+” sign indicates more detail where you can see the current wind, humidity, pressure and visibility.
The radar display is not a simple video, this is an interactive sliding display that changes whether you are viewing the global, regional or local forecasts.
All in the Details
Scrolling down the page we have the next 7 days forecast in summary form, but each day can be expanded to reveal a 24 hourly forecast and further to that, if you click on the details, you go to a separate page of detail that gives wind speed and direction with a great sticky slider that moves with the mouse to show the forecast throughout the day.
The Time Machine feature gives the same single day view as the details page and gives the same hourly view of the weather on any date going back 100 years, depending on the availability of historical data and weather stations at the time.
What makes this weather website unique is in the way they not only present the data, all using advanced html5 code, but that this also makes the website accessible to all users, regardless of their operating system. You don’t need Adobe Flash, and the website looks great for Android, Blackberry and iOS users.
For mobile users, Dark Sky (the developers of Forecast.io), have developed a touch compatible website that runs just the same as a native app. You can save your preferences, including the temperature scale and multiple locations so you can get forecasts for wherever you’re going.
Actually the website is a better experience on a mobile than it is on the desktop due to the slider on the radar display and hourly/daily forecasts. When the radar image is displayed, sliding your finger left and right anywhere over the image moves the animation forward and back in time so you can get forecasts for any hour up to 7 days ahead. It is very intuitive and beautifully presented.
Currently the mobile website works in portrait only, and this is deliberate, as the layout is optimized for portrait display. If you happen to turn the phone to landscape mode, this reveals a beta landing page for the Time Machine feature yet to be rolled out – a completely new way of accessing different parts of a website.
UPDATE: Some users are reporting that Chrome for Android is not loading the website correctly. You can fix this by installing Chrome Beta instead.
UPDATE2: Chrome for Android was updated promptly and all is now working.
UPDATE3: A new Android app utilizing the power of forecast.io has been developed.
The advantages of using this app is the integration with the DashClock Widget, the option of having the forecast in your notification bar and the speed of access.
The only disadvantage I currently see is that it only displays a forecast for your current location and the GPS loads on app startup and continues to run when you are using the app, which could effect battery life.
You can check out the Android app below.
Why not check it out for yourself? Forecast.io will appear in the “General” weather page of this website.
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