Do you use it? Apple Weather leads a wide range of popular alternatives

Tonya and I pay close attention to the weather because of the time we spend running, biking, and participating in other outdoor activities that require advance planning. I’ve always wondered if we’re unusual and that ordinary people don’t participate as much. Who knows about “ordinary people”, but I have the ability to ask TidBITS readers, so I set up a couple of polls.

The first survey asked how people check the weather on their iPhones, offering the option of Apple’s default weather app, a third-party app, or a non-iPhone approach. I was pleased to see that only 2% of participants did not use their iPhones for weather information – at least Tonya and I are not outliers among TidBITS readers. The survey also asked participants to share third-party apps they used.

Do you use it?  Survey results on how to check the weather on your iPhone

After I collected and recorded enough suggestions, I created the second poll, which allows respondents to vote for multiple apps. I kept Apple Weather in the mix because a fair number of people reported using it alongside other apps, but the first survey only allowed for one answer. This time, Apple’s Weather app received 75% of the votes, which means a lot of people are using it to complement whatever other app they’re using.

Next up 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 received more than 5% of votes, which doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, just that they’re less used by TidBITS readers. Links to all the rest are in the survey itself.

Do you use it?  Survey results about weather apps for iPhone

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

I was amazed at the variety of ways people get weather information, and even my second survey failed to document it because I focused on general-purpose weather apps that work anywhere. Once I started looking through the hundreds of suggestions, I found that they were grouped into four categories:

  • Site-specific applications: Weather is local to each of us, and many people rely on country-specific apps, often published by national weather offices.
  • Focused weather applications: The aspects of weather you care about vary, and readers recommend apps for astronomers, sailors, and pilots. Additionally, millions of people have become more concerned about air quality over the past few months of widespread wildfire smoke, and while most weather apps provide reports on air quality, many people prefer specific apps.
  • Weather station applications: A few participants said that the apps they preferred were those that reported on data collected by their personal weather stations.
  • websites: Although the apps customize their interfaces to fit the iPhone’s screen and interaction model, some participants said they preferred certain websites for the quality of their data.

Let’s dig deeper.

Site-specific applications

TidBITS readers come from all over the world, so it should come as no surprise that they have recommended many apps of interest to iPhone users in specific countries. Australians have particularly loved their local apps, but the one I regret not being included in the second survey is Yr, published by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. When I created the survey, I thought it would be limited to Europe, but it also provides information and weather forecasts for other parts of the world. Many people spoke enthusiastically about it, with one person noting that it was worthwhile in part because the European Global Weather Model has better and better resolution on large-scale weather patterns. Recommended apps by country are as follows, and note that many of them may work in neighboring countries as well.

Focused weather applications

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

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

  • Air quality: EPA AIRNow, IQAir AirVisual, Local Haze, Paku for PurpleAir
  • Lightning: Blixtvakt (Sweden), My Lightning Tracker Pro, WeatherBug
  • Storms and hurricanes: Hurricane Tracker, RadarScope, Storm Radar, Year
  • Tides: NVS Explorer (iPad), tide chart
  • winds: Wind Forecast, Sail Flow, WindAlert, Windy

Personal weather stations and applications

It’s no surprise that 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 multiple personal weather stations.

websites

Although iPhone apps are good and convenient, many survey respondents still prefer to use websites on their Macs. Weather sites can often provide more comprehensive views of data and maps, and specialized sites offer information that no one has packaged into an app yet.

Oof! I hope all of these suggestions give you ideas to enhance your awareness of local weather conditions.

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