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Dark Sky Fading; iOS 16’s Weather Brightens

A few years ago, Apple bought its way to better weather forecasts, as we covered in “Apple Acquires Dark Sky Weather Service and App” (31 March 2020). Apple removed Dark Sky’s Android and Wear OS apps shortly after on 1 August 2020. It took a little longer than anticipated for Dark Sky’s core features to migrate to Apple’s bundled Weather app, but at least some of them did last year (see “Weather in iOS 15 Gains Precipitation Notifications (But Do They Work Reliably?),” 17 November 2021).

Now Apple has announced that the Dark Sky iOS app will cease to be available and will no longer provide weather data as of 1 January 2023. The Dark Sky API and website will hold on a few more months, until 31 March 2023, possibly to allow all of Dark Sky’s contracts to sunset. Apple’s new WeatherKit API allows developers to integrate Apple Weather forecast data into their apps.

Dark Sky ending

This news should come as a shock to no one—Apple has been quite clear that Dark Sky was on borrowed time—but it does mean that Dark Sky fans will need to find an alternative by the end of the year. The obvious choice is Apple’s Weather app, which received several key new features in iOS 16.

For those like me who are interested in hyperlocal weather patterns to see if you’ll get wet on your run or ride, Weather has added to the existing 12-hour animated forecast map (below left). The new next-hour forecast animation (below right) is far more detailed and likely to help you plan your outing. Switch by tapping the forecast name at the bottom, just to the right of the pause button.

Weather's Next-Hour Radar

The other change is even more significant. When you tap the hourly forecast or a day in the 10-day forecast, Weather now displays a daily time-based graph of one of eight metrics: temperature, UV index, wind, precipitation, “feels like” temperature, humidity, visibility, and pressure. Switch by tapping the menu on the right side of the screen. You can also tap a day at the top or swipe left and right to navigate to other days in the 10-day forecast.

Weather's Daily Graphs

My gripe with the daily graph screen is that it defaults to temperature rather than remembering what you had previously viewed. I’m less interested in temperature than precipitation most of the time, so I’d have to switch to the precipitation forecast manually every time. The workaround is to scroll down to the display of a particular metric on the main screen and tap that to jump directly to that metric’s graph screen. Better, but still fussy.

Welcome as these features are, I don’t see myself using them. Apple’s Weather app may have integrated Dark Sky’s capabilities, but I don’t love its interface, particularly with the individual metric cards, which are difficult to parse quickly. Ever since it became clear that Dark Sky was living on borrowed time, I’ve become fond of CARROT Weather and its interface construction set approach, which lets you tweak all the possible display options to your preferences (see “CARROT Weather Predicts Cloudy with a Chance of Snark,” 22 January 2018). Since CARROT also lets you pick from numerous weather services, including Dark Sky until next year and Apple Weather now, there’s no liability when it comes to data quality. (I admit to sometimes switching between services to see if I can shake loose a better forecast.) But of course, Weather is free, whereas CARROT’s advanced features—which also include Home and Lock screen widgets—require a Premium membership. Well worth it for me since CARROT is among the apps Tonya and I use most frequently.

Weather vs CARROT Weather
Left: Apple’s Weather app; Right: CARROT Weather

Is Weather now your main weather app, and if not, what do you prefer?

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Comments About Dark Sky Fading; iOS 16’s Weather Brightens

Notable Replies

  1. I am back to using Apple weather again, I wasn’t sure what source to choose on Carrot weather, most seemed to be inaccurate for me in N.Ireland.

    Dark Sky was accurate’ish.

    Not one of them was any good for Hungary when I travelled to Budapest for F1, we resorted to looking at the Sky and feeling the wind direction to see how wet we might get.

  2. What has me a bit concerned is that for the same location, macOS weather widget, iOS Weather, and the DarkSky website do not agree on forecast.

    Not just a degree here or there, but sunshine vs. overcast skies or rain vs. dry.

    Since all three belong to Apple, I would have hoped that they can determine which one of their data sources is most accurate and then stick to that across the board.

    It appears that has not (yet) happened. So I know at least one of my 3 sources of weather information is not as good as it could be. But unfortunately, without knowing conclusively which one of the three it is, I don’t know which one to drop in favor of another.

  3. I’ve been using Forecastbar and Hello Weather on iPhone, and Forecastbar on the Mac. I’ve switched to Apple’s Weather app on the iPhone, and may do the same in the Mac, depending on its implementation. I hope it has a menu bar drop-down for a quick glance at weather conditions.

  4. You can check ForecastAdvisor to see which services are best for your area.

  5. There has been much discussion on this topic in meteorological forums in the past few years and the consensus is that the methodology used by ForecastAdvisor is suspect. For example, in my city they compare the forecast and verification at different locations that are about 20 miles apart and at different elevations. Some locations are worse; most are probably better.

  6. I notice this site is only US

  7. Drat, that’s a bummer, @david_blanchard, and yes, sorry @heronlen, I do now see it’s US only.

    I was going to add that Forecast Advisor has a Further Analysis button at the bottom of the screen that breaks out high and low temperature, icon precipitation and text precipitation. Dark Sky was weak on temperature but the best on precipitation for Ithaca; I care more about precipitation than temperature, and this somewhat confirms my belief that Dark Sky is better than others in this area. I never know what to make of temperature anyway, since it can vary so much by location around here.

  8. I am sold on Dark Sky the way it is. I have used the paid edition for years and run it alongside the Apple Weather app. With both set to use current location, Dark Sky is often more accurate in terms of humidity, dew point, and temperature when compared to Weather Underground at the same location. So I do not understand how Apple is getting their information from Dark Sky; they vary as much as 5% often.

    My favorite feature in Dark Sky is simply to touch the daily temperature at the top the screen. Every reading for current conditions appear on one screen – no scrolling required: Temp, Feels like, Wind, Cloud Cover, Visibility, Humidity, Dew Point, Pressure, Precipitation Probability, UV index, Sunset, Moon.

    I am anxious to see iOS 16. I’ve been trying to get it on my Xs since September 12, but can only receive version 15.7. The press release said it was available for iPhone 8 and newer. So, I’ won’t make too much noise until I see what they truly use from Dark Sky. Believing for the best!

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