The recent blizzard/snowstorm/apocalypse that hit the East Coast is a good reminder that one of the core smartphone features that makes life a little more cushy is the ability to pull up a weather forecast on a whim.
Android is flooded by good weather-app options. But it’s about more than just having the right icons on your screen: To get the full experience you want to explore options for putting a weather widget on your home screen and which apps connect with Android Wear smartwatches.
GOOGLE: MAYBE NO APP IS NECESSARY?
You may not even need a dedicated weather app, as Google handles this function particularly well. In fact the company recently rolled out a splashy redesign of its weather features that both looks very good and makes it easier to access key information.
Make sure you’re using the Google Now Launcher, and you can get to the weather by swiping right from the home screen to get to Google Now. Or just do a Google search (voice works, too) for “weather.”
Google offers several weather tools that are always at the ready.
You’ll then see the day’s forecast, with the ability to get an hourly breakdown of precipitation and the details for the next ten days. Just like with other weather apps you can add different cities to your list, so you’ll know just how much Uncle Jimmy is freezing while he’s snowed in during the storm.
HERE ARE THE BEST ALL-AROUND APPS
If it’s just a good, informative weather app you’re after then there are a couple of places you should start. My overall favorite is Weather Underground. It’s free ($2.99 per year kills the ads) and has a variety of informative maps, an easy-to-read forecast, and weather alerts so you’ll know the next time the heavens are going to open up. I feel it’s easy to navigate and takes Android design seriously, which isn’t always the case with apps for Google’s platform.
Mashup: Weather Underground, Weather Timeline, and AccuWeather will easily suit your needs.
The app that I like to show off the most to my iPhone-using friends is Weather Timeline. It has a minimalist design that is very similar to the much-loved Dark Sky on iOS. It does Material Design well and includes playful animations for a fun take on meteorological information.
When it comes to raw data, I’m partial to AccuWeather. The app recently got a pleasant redesign that puts it in line with Google’s guidelines. It’s a little difficult to navigate at times as where to swipe and tap isn’t always obvious, but it’s perfect for getting specific statistics about your current location or elsewhere.
BUT LET'S NOT DISCOUNT ANDROID FOR WEATHER WIZARDRY
Android is about more than just an app on your phone, however. I’ve sung the praises of widgets here before, and this concept definitely extends to the world of weather, as it’s often one of those things you want to be able to just glance at quickly while you're working or playing on your tablet.
Putting a weather widget on your home screen ensures the forecast is live on your home screen.
In this case, you’ll have good choices with the apps I’ve mentioned earlier: Weather Timeline, Weather Underground, and AccuWeather as they all have excellent widgets of various sizes so you’ll have live weather information anytime. They also extend to Android Wear - they each will place a card on your watch and ping you with alerts - AccuWeather is the most customizable in this respect, with option such as tide warnings for those who live on the coast.
Some honorable mentions merit a couple of lines of copy. The Weather Channel has a pretty neat push notification with its app that tells you when rain or other inclement weather is about to hit. And YoWeather is the most unique in the batch, with an illustrated background sporting a Parallax effect for each location you check the weather.
Since there’s always a need to know the weather, this area gets a lot of attention by app developers. Just as we saw with Google’s recent innovation, you never know when someone will ramp things up and deliver an experience that you suddenly can’t be without. The weather always changes, and so does the capabilities of apps designed to track it.