Keeping on top of the weather in Chicago has made me the unofficial AAII meteorologist. A look at my iPhone shows that I have a slight obsession with the weather, as I have five weather-related apps installed that I use regularly. These range from free to paid apps and offer everything from general forecasts to specialty radar maps. The reason I have so many weather apps installed is that each does one thing slightly better than the others and none offers everything I am looking for in a single app. Probably the closest I have come is the free Weather Channel app, sponsored by the cable channel of the same name. This app recently went through its first redesign since it was launched in 2008.
The app is divided into multiple tabs: Map, Video, Weather, Social and In Season. The Weather tab, which is the app’s home screen, holds the meat of the app, providing current weather conditions, such as actual and “feels like” temperatures. You can also toggle a drop-down box with additional information such as wind speed and direction, visibility, humidity, UV index and sunrise and sunset times. The wallpaper reflects the current conditions (blue skies, rain and snow, etc.), or you can upload your own image from your photo library. On this tab you will also find sub-tabs for hourly, 36-hour and 10-day forecasts. If there are weather alerts for the location you are viewing, there will be either a red or yellow exclamation point that you can tap. Currently, for Chicago, there is a yellow exclamation point that, when I tap on it, tells me there is a wind advisory, as well as a fire weather warning, for Cook County.
The Map tab will display a regional map for the location selected. The maps are dynamic, so you can move the location by sliding your finger over the map. You can also animate the maps so that they play a time-lapse radar loop to monitor weather patterns. You can also modify the look of the map to display radar-only, clouds-only, radar and clouds, “feels like” temperatures, 24-hour precipitation, and the UV index.
With the app, you can set your favorite locations by manually entering locations by name or ZIP code or by using your GPS-enabled device’s location.
With the latest version of this app, the Weather Channel has also added social media features. You can now share and view photos through iWitness, Twitter, Facebook and email as well as send tweets relevant to your current location or your favorites. Once you have granted the app access to your Twitter feed, you can also send tweets directly through the app.
On the Video tab, you will find “must see” videos, local and regional weather forecasts, and world weather forecasts from The Weather Channel.
Lastly, the In Season tab focuses on pollen levels and tropical conditions.
The pollen section provides individual maps displaying tree, weed and grass pollen levels throughout the country. The tropical section provides hurricane-related news items and lists of active storms in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Overall, The Weather Channel app is the best all-around weather app I have used thus far. While there are different apps I use specifically for radar images, the Weather Channel app’s combination of current conditions, weather alerts, extended forecasts and maps make it an ideal choice if you are looking for a single weather app for iOS.