OutSider Review

When it comes to iOS weather apps, The Weather Channel app is certainly one of the most popular. What is interesting to note is that iOS weather apps are kind of a battleground for graphic designers and coders, who are giving their best to create the next great app that will capture everyone’s attention. In addition, in the past we have seen numerous examples of innovative approach in terms of UI design or gesture control that was first implemented in a weather app, but then became mainstream. However, The Weather Channel app is not one of those apps, but still stands the test of time because of its accuracy, usability, as well as interesting and useful data.

In somewhat surprising move, The Weather Channel published another iOS app, designed for anyone who likes to jog or run on a daily basis. This app is called OutSider, and it can be downloaded free of charge. As its iTunes Store description says, using this app you will be able to “track your runs and see weather’s impact on your time”. If this sounds interesting enough, continue reading this article since we took this app for a couple of runs and tested its abilities.

Outsider 1

Once I took a first look at OutSider it was clear that this app shares the same designed principles as The Weather Channel app. There are many similar UI elements, which are not sharing iOS’ flat design principles, but instead the app uses full-screen photos and different kinds of gradients. I did not particularly enjoy in this interface, but it cannot be said that it is badly designed since it successfully fulfills its main role. This means that the app is very user friendly and intuitive, and presents information in a very readable manner. The main screen will show you a “Run Weather Index” which uses a number from one to ten. The lowest number presents the worst possible weather condition. This number is a reflection of several weather elements like humidity, wind, temperature, and similar. You can adjust how these elements affect your desire to run, so OutSider can adapt to your habits.

While the main screen shows the current data, you can also find a menu that provides extended forecasts, so you can plan your runs accordingly. The app allows scheduling and adding runs to the calendar. This is a great way to plan your runs, since we all know how annoying it can be to skip a great workout because of rain and bad weather.

OutSider also tries to compete with other running apps, since you can route your runs, analyze them (view a chart of historical data), and create playlists. However, this side of the app performs very poorly. As many other reviewers and users already noticed, the app struggles to capture distances and times, which are the main features that every runner wants.

The newest effort by The Weather Channel is great for scheduling your runs since it provides reliable forecasts, but fails where every other running tracker succeeds. It certainly cannot be used as a reliable fitness tracker, and needs further development.

 

 

Dark Sky 4.0 Review

There’s no lack of weather apps in the iOS App Store, and it seems that with each new day a couple of new ones appear. This is one of the most active areas of the App Store, where functionalities are evolving at a rapid speed. Weather apps also serve as a testing ground for many software developers, since this type of application is perfect for introducing a new gesture control or some innovative UI tweak.

If you visited the App Store during the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed one particular weather app which Apple decided to showcase. This app is called Dark Sky, and it’s one of the most comprehensive weather forecast apps. Apple decided to showcase this app since it recently received its fourth major update, so there’s very large user base interested in development of this app. If you’re a new user, the price of download is $4.

Dark Sky 1

What’s interesting about Dark Sky is that it uses its own public weather API, created to power another weather forecast service named Forecast.io. With the latest update, Dark Sky received many new features, so it’s nice to see that this whole project is going further with its development.

Even though you won’t be able to see it by looking at its same old icon, Dark Sky went through massive interface redesign. This was expected, in order to bring up aesthetics up to iOS7-inspired look. The first screen you’ll see is an overview of your current location’s weather conditions, with a map blurred in the background. This kind of logic is present in all aspects of the app, where you’re supposed to swipe across the screen in order to reveal what’s behind it, which is always partly visible. It’s like looking though several layers of glass, with many information between these layers. Of course, the top layer is always the best visible one. Even though this sounds like a high-tech UI design idea, it doesn’t really feel well executed in practice. Dark Sky has become too much monochromatic, and completely flat as well. There are some amazing colorful UI designs in the App Store, and I hope that Dark Sky will take inspiration from those apps. Another thing that’s a direct consequence of this situation is noticeable lag. There’s a lot of information showed on every single layer of this app, and each piece of information is often updated, which sometimes creates annoying loading screens.

Even though there are some issues with the design of this app, I still need to praise its functionality. If you like very detailed forecasts, Dark Sky is the right choice. You’ll get to see hour-by-hour forecasts, and nicely animated radar maps. You’ll also get to use rain and snow notification service, which sends alerts directly to your phone.

The main selling point of Dark Sky is abundance of information it provides, and this is very detailed and accurate data. Performance could be better, but since this is something that can be optimized in the future, I hope that issues with lagging will be solved.

Beautiful Weather Review

Ever since developers got a chance to show their creations in the iOS App Store, certain trends started to be noticeable. For example, you can still find thousands of alternative iOS weather apps, where you can find free and premium applications, even though there is Apple’s Weather app integrated into any version of iOS. It seems that even though an iPhone users already got a perfectly usable app, they will choose to buy a new one if they like its interface or some other interesting or innovative feature.

Beautiful Weather 1

With this said, it’s no wonder that many new developers chose “weather app” category to enter the world of iOS and OSX software. What’s more interesting is that weather apps were sometimes the first to introduce some unusual interface element or innovative gesture control, which was later implemented into a much more complex app. This is why, for me, it’s always interesting to see brand new weather apps, no matter if they are created for iOS or OSX.

Today we are going to get a deeper look into an OSX application named Beautiful Weather. This app can be downloaded from the Mac App Store, and it’s currently priced at $2. According to its developer, the Beautiful Weather promises to bring very simplistic interface which accurately shows your local and worldwide temperatures, so let’s see if these goals are fulfilled.

Beautiful Weather 2

Once you open Beautiful Weather for the first time you’ll need to enter at least one new location and unfortunately this is where the first issue can be seen. While you’ll be able to add a new location, you’ll need to reopen this app in order for the background image to be loaded. Weather info and locations are pulled using Yahoo Weather API, while images are being pulled from Flickr which is trying to show an image of your location. This is not a complex task, and many similar apps are doing this without any problems, so this was a disappointment. Even though this is just a one-time issue, it leaves negative impression right from the start which is something a premium app should never allow.

Speaking of how functional this app is, I need to say that it showed very accurate temperatures and there are numerous locations to find and add. What I also liked is that Beautiful Weather showed only a few relevant numbers, while some other weather apps try to offer incredible amount of data which is simply unnecessary for an average user. This app shows the current temperatures as well as highs and lows for the current day, as well as wind speed and precipitation. There are also weekly temperatures as well, and this is all you’ll actually need.

Even though I really liked its interface, typography and graphic elements, some important issues and performance glitches are preventing me from recommending it. As I’ve said earlier, you’ll need to restart this app every time you add a new location in order for the background image to be pulled. It also sometimes needs a few minutes for temperatures to be pulled and presented, which is a major issue. So finally it could be said that Beautiful Weather does have some potential, but its problems are too big at the moment.

Foresee Review

Foresee 1From time to time an iOS weather app becomes a subject of an internet talk, which is actually a very interesting thing, since it seems that there’s not that much that a new weather app can bring. I am speaking in terms of functionality, since a weather app usually only shows a current temperature and a forecast for the next few days. Perhaps that’s exactly why many developers chose this app category to enter the world of iOS app development, since exactly those weather apps were pioneering grounds for new and exciting interfaces and innovative gestures.

In order to see how interesting a weather app can be, we are going to review an app called Foresee. This is a fairy new app in the iOS App Store, and many people already noticed it, so I only assume that it will become very popular.

Simply said, Foresee is a weather app, but in practice it is so much more. It brings innovative concept of tailored weather forecast, which is based on your favorite outdoor activities and your subjective ideal temperatures. This way Foresee will tell you if the weather is perfect for a morning run, or for an intensive baseball game, to name a few examples.

Now let’s see how this app actually works. First you’ll need to select you favorite outdoor activity, and Foresee comes with dozens of preloaded suggestions which range from jogging, up to yard sale exploring. After you’ve selected an activity, you’ll need to set the preferred time of day and ideal weather conditions which could range in temperature, humidity, cloud cover, wind condition, and much more. This way, Foresee will tell you that tomorrow morning will be ideal for an early morning run, since there’s going to be a bit windy and not that hot at all – to give you just one example.

Foresee 2

After you’ve set up your favorite outdoor activities, every time you open Foresee you’ll be able to get that personalized forecast. In fact, Foresee will tell you what activities you can expect doing according to weather conditions over the next 10 days. As you can see, this is a really fun application, and in general it can be very helpful.

Another amazing aspect of Foresee is its interface design. If you’ve seen how iOS7 is going to look like, than you’ll exactly know what kind of interface to expect from Foresee. Its flat design looks amazing, and vibrant colors are making it cheerful and fun to use. It also comes with some very nice graphics and smooth animations, so you’ll surely going to love this app. Speaking of those animations, I need to say that not all of them are completely smooth since you can see some hiccups when you use those large spinning animations. This means that there’s some small tweaking to be done in the future, but overall this is a very interesting iOS application which I warmly recommend trying out.

Foresee is currently priced at $2, and can be downloaded right from the iOS App Store.

Morning Review

Morning 1When multitasking became available on iOS, Apple said that it was “true multitasking”, which was a reflection of how Apple looked at this technology which is also available on any other mobile platform like Android OS and Windows Phone. It’s interesting to see how all of those three multitasking features work, since they’re all made with different ideas on mind.

You can currently catch a commercial made by Microsoft which is telling that its Windows (Phone) features “true multitasking”, meaning that you can actively use two applications at the same time – in contrast to iOS, where you can easily switch between apps, but you can’t use them simultaneously. This really made me wonder how Apple’s idea of multitasking is limited and that it perhaps needs a redesign.Then I’ve discovered an app which made me believe that developers can help us get the most out of iOS by providing us interesting and unique interfaces. This app is called Morning and it brings all necessities within one window. Now let’s see what this app is really about.

Morning 2

Morning (currently priced at $3) brings eight customizable panels, where you place six of those on your screen and see them at the same time (which is only one of many different layouts). These panels are: Weather, Reminders, Commute, News, Calendar, Stocks, Countdown, and Date/Time. Now you can see why I talked about Apple’s idea of multitasking, since Morning allows you to use Weather and Reminders (for example) at the same time and without switching between two or more apps.

As you can see from the screenshots, developers decided to bring us a very casual interface with bright colors and playful fonts. I believe most people will find this interface very interesting, but I would like to see some other themes which could make this app look a bit more serious. You can pick six tiles to show on your screen, where two of those are going to be large and shown in the upper part, and four small tiles will spread across the bottom half. Naturally, if you choose a tile to be bigger, you’ll get more information from it, which is not the case if you place it among those four small tiles.

Morning 3

It seems that this app is made to slightly resemble those active tiles in Windows 8, and to give iPad users ability to enjoy in that kind of interface. In reality, these aren’t “active titles” and there’s not much you can do with them. For example, the most interactive tile is RSS feed reader, where you can scroll and then open Safari to read an article. The rest of tiles are pretty much just sitting there.

This application can really offer a lot, and I like the general idea of it. I also believe that there are numerous changes to be made and new features to be built, and there’s also an issue with interactivity. With all this said, I would still recommend this app if it came free of charge, but since it’s priced at $3 (which is its introductory price, by the way) I would suggest a deeper look to see it if really fits your individual needs.