Monday, 8 October 2012

Windows Phone Weather Apps

I used to have an HTC Hero Android phone, it had a great weather app built into it. You'd get rain drops on your screen, sunshine, all kinds of animation. In April 2012 change to the Nokia Lumia 800 with Windows Phone 7.5, there was no weather app included! Nothing! What to do? I know animations will be thin on the ground because Windows Phone is about simplicity and speed. However, I want a functional and practical weather app for my Lumia. Here I'll explain about my experiences with four weather apps. As always this is just my opinion but I hope it is of use.


Four Weather Apps
There are many weather apps available for Windows Phone, most of them are free but there are some with a price tag. I have chosen to look at four free weather apps:

Windows Phone with four weather apps
  1. Microsoft Weather
  2. AccuWeather
  3. Weather Duck
  4. Weather View
I had these four apps installed for a few weeks. At first I tried to give each a fair chance but eventually just let myself naturally decide which was best by which one I reached for.


Generally
Generally all four apps provide the same basic information, the weather now and a forecast for the week ahead. Also, all of these apps you can enter a number of locations and pin a shortcut tile to your start page. Some do have some more features and that might sway you in making your choice. For me I would like simplicity and clarity. Typically I look at the weather once in the morning and possibily later on, depending on how changeable the weather is. For me easy of use and speed are most important, I'll explain more as I go through each of the apps:


1.  Microsoft Weather
Everything about this app is simple. The graphics are very plain. This is a little disappointing at first but sometimes I was glad of this because it is quick to see what the weather will be. There's no fuss with this app. The live tile is sometimes a little slow to update but when it does you get the temperature and the weather now shown. Touch the tile and it opens very quickly to display the weather now and for the hours ahead. Humidity and UV index are also shown. If you swipe sideways you'll see the forecast. The forecast page only shows a list of the coming days of the week with high/low temperatures and a weather symbol.

It's free and does not have advertising. The interface is uncluttered.

Find out more and download it here:


2.  AccuWeather
This is a very popular app and for good reason. It has lots of information. The graphics are clear and easy to read, it's very nice. However, the live tile isn't so live. Touch the tile and it is slow to open. Then you have to swipe to and touch again to see the weather for today. Don't get me wrong, it's a great little app, it's free (there is an advertising banner) and the forecast is accurate. But, for me it is not fast and simple enough. During my test I used it less and less.

Find out more and download it here:


3.  Weather Duck
This app is a little like the Microsoft Weather app. Weather Duck is fast to open and the information you need is shown on the screen without any fuss. The live tile is also good, it shows the temperature and a weather symbol, it also flips over to show the rain fall and wind speed. The graphics are a little more sophisticated than the Microsoft Weather app. There is an advertising banner inside as with AccuWeather but Weather Duck's interface is cleaner. Swipe to the side and you can see the weather for the days to come. Similar to Microsoft Weather? Weather Duck shows a page for each day so you can see more details. I prefer this as it even shows the rainfall in millimeters for each hour of the day.

Find out more and download it here:


4.  Weather View
This app has more elaborate graphics. Each weather symbol is rendered with detail and you can see a lot of work has gone into this app. When you touch the tile it opens slowly. The first view is shows today and the following days down the screen. The screen looks a bit too cluttered for my taste. You have to swipe sideways to get more information. There is a lot of detail and you can see a lot of work has gone into this. If the graphics were not so much 'in your face' I think I would like it more. It doesn't have an advertising banner so it is completely free.

Find out more and download it here:


Conclusion
Out of the four I use Weather Duck (number 3) more than the others. I found the weather forecast was accurate and detailed. It's also quick to load and the graphics don't overwhelm you (like Weather View!). I also like Microsoft Weather for its true simplicity but it lacks details such as a per hourly forecast. Sometimes when I wanted even more detail I would look at AccuWeather but it just is a bit slow (or appears to be). Weather Duck gets my vote overall!

But don't forget there are more weather apps out there. Maybe there's something better? Feel free to add your favourite in the comments. Here's a link to the Windows Phone site showing the weather apps available:



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