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Do You Use It? Apple’s Weather Leads a Wide Array of Popular Alternatives

Tonya and I pay a lot of attention to the weather because of the time we spend running, biking, and participating in other outdoor activities that require planning ahead. I’ve always wondered if we are unusual and normal people aren’t nearly as involved. Who knows about “normal people,” but I do have the ability to ask TidBITS readers, so I prepared a pair of polls.

The first poll asked how people checked the weather on their iPhones, offering the choice of Apple’s default Weather app, a third-party app, or a non-iPhone approach. I was gratified to see that only 2% of respondents didn’t use their iPhones for weather info—at least Tonya and I aren’t outliers among TidBITS readers. The poll also asked respondents to share what third-party apps they used.

Do You Use It? poll results about how you check the weather on your iPhone

After I’d collected and tallied enough suggestions, I built the second poll, which let respondents vote for multiple apps. I kept Apple’s Weather app in the mix because quite a few people reported using it alongside other apps, but the first poll allowed only one answer. This time, Apple’s Weather garnered 75% of the votes, implying that lots of people use it to supplement whatever other app they use.

After that, the top apps were Weather Underground, with 25% of the votes, CARROT Weather with 19%, The Weather Channel with 18%, AccuWeather with 15%, WeatherBug with 13%, and Windy and MyRadar, both with 11%. No other apps drew more than 5% of the votes, which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with them, just that they’re less commonly used by TidBITS readers. Links to all the rest are in the poll itself.

Do You Use It? poll results about iPhone weather apps

The elephant in the room in any discussion of iPhone weather apps is Dark Sky. Over 10% of the comments lamented the loss of Dark Sky following Apple’s acquisition (see “Dark Sky Fading; iOS 16’s Weather Brightens,” 19 September 2022). TidBITS readers liked Dark Sky a lot, and many feel that Apple’s Weather still lacks the features and interface niceties they appreciated in Dark Sky. Sad, but apart from sending feedback to Apple, there’s nothing to be done about it.

I was astonished at the variety of ways people acquire weather information, and even my second poll fell short in documenting them because I focused on general-purpose weather apps that function anywhere. Once I started to drill into the hundreds of suggestions, I found they clumped into four categories:

  • Location-specific apps: Weather is local to each of us, and many people rely on country-specific apps, often those published by national weather offices.
  • Focused weather apps: What aspects of the weather you care about varies, and readers recommended apps for astronomers, sailors, and pilots. Plus, millions of people have become far more interested in air quality over the past few months of widespread wildfire smoke, and while most weather apps report on air quality, plenty of people prefer specific apps.
  • Weather station apps: A handful of respondents said the apps they preferred were those that reported on data gathered by their personal weather stations.
  • Websites: Although apps tailor their interfaces to the iPhone screen and interaction model, some respondents said they prefer particular websites for the quality of their data.

Let’s dive in.

Location-Specific Apps

TidBITS readers hail from around the world, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they recommended numerous apps primarily of interest to iPhone users in particular countries. Australians particularly liked their local apps, but the app I regret not including in the second poll is Yr, published by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. When I built the poll, I thought it was limited to Europe, but it also offers weather information and forecasts for other parts of the world. Many people spoke glowingly about it, with one person suggesting it was worthwhile partly because its European global weather model has a finer resolution and is better at large-scale weather patterns. Recommended apps by country are as follows, and note that many may work for nearby countries as well.

Focused Weather Apps

While everyone needs a general weather app, those with particular professions or hobbies often turn to focused weather apps.

Plus, there are weather apps that focus on just a specific aspect of the weather, such as air quality or lightning strikes. Some of these duplicate entries above.

Personal Weather Stations and Apps

Unsurprisingly, some TidBITS readers are so involved in the weather that they run their own personal weather stations.

A few people also mentioned that they prefer using weather apps that display data from a multitude of personal weather stations.

Websites

As good and convenient as iPhone apps are, many poll respondents still prefer to use websites on their Macs. Weather sites can often provide more expansive views of data and maps, and specialized sites offer information that no one has yet encapsulated in an app.

Phew! I hope all these suggestions give you ideas for enhancing your awareness of your local weather conditions.

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Comments About Do You Use It? Apple’s Weather Leads a Wide Array of Popular Alternatives

Notable Replies

  1. A little surprised that Radar Omega didn’t make the list of alternate (albeit somewhat specialized) forecast and weather apps. I was turned on to it by the Ryan Hall Y’All YouTube channel and I’ve been finding it most informative.

  2. Pretty interesting! (disclaimer; I work for Environment Canada’s weather data dissemination, thus my interest!)

    May I add a website that weather lovers may like? The open source MSC AniMet tool and website. It basically allows anyone to create their own customized weather animations out of 8,000 layers. (no ads, no nonsense, just freely available open data and open source code)

    For forest fire smoke and hotspots over North America? Here it is: msc-animet

    Just North American weather radar? msc-animet

    Easy to have a lot of fun… and fully customized weather layers! :-) Enjoy – Alex

  3. For current and past precipitation in the USA (and a few other places), CoCoRaHS.org (Community Cooperative Rain, Hail and Snow network) displays the collected daily reports of thousands of volunteers. It works best on a large screen, IMO.

  4. You missed one Focused Weather app that I use a lot: Drive Weather. I travel by RV in the summer, and this app gives me the weather along the route.

  5. Whoa, that’s seriously cool! Thanks for sharing.

    I’ll have to spend some time playing…

  6. Someone wrote in to mention Flowx, which is apparently a popular and highly customizable Android app now available for iOS.

    https://www.flowx.io/

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