If you have had your Android phone for more than say…five minutes, chances are you have already been looking for an app that displays the current weather. All Android phones come pre-installed with some form of weather app, but almost all of those are very basic and limited in features.
Today, I am going to review one of my favorite Android weather apps, WeatherBug.
Look And Feel
When you first install WeatherBug, the first thing you may notice is that the free version is supported by ads. Using my “Sherlock Holmes” detective skills and a compass from a cereal box, I have deduced that there must be a paid verison of the app that removes these. Sure enough, after long nights and gathering statements from random passerby’s, I have confirmed (by looking at the Android Market for about 30 seconds) that there is indeed a paid, ad-free version. More on that later.
The app’s layout is quite simple, and it works well that way. When you open WeatherBug, you instantly get the current temperature, wind speed and direction, as well as a short term forecast. At the bottom of the page, you will see some icons. Each of these icons will give you some more detail as to what is going on around you; But we’re talking weather here, not which bars have the best happy hour.
The second icon from the left displays the 7-day forecast, which by swiping to the side of the screen, will break that forecast down into different parts of the day. By swiping again, the forecast is broken down even further into an hourly forecast.
The next icon to the right will display a map on which you can enable layers. This one is easily my favorite and most used screen. Here, you can display current radar, satellite, and temperatures. While being able to see these is nice, one major feature of the “Elite” version is the ability to watch “moving” radar. Simply put, you can view the radar in motion, which is quite handy if you have a storm nearby. The best part about this feature is that the map is provided by Google, meaning you are basically looking at Google Maps with weather radar. That’s awfully nice if you are on a road trip and need to see if you’re heading for a storm.
Moving again to the right, the next icon looks like a camera, and that’s because that is exactly what it is. By selecting it, you will be able to scroll through different live weather feeds in your area. This is really nice if you want to see what kind of weather is happening in the town next to you, or somewhere else nearby.
The next icon breaks down the temperature, precipitation, wind, sun, humidity, and pressure into specific details; And I do mean specific. The meteorologist in all of us can feel right at home with all of this data.
Do you have allergies? The next icon summarizes the pollen count and is accompanied by a national pollen map, showing where the highest pollen counts have been observed.
After that, there is a movie reel icon that displays a video on the national weather forecast. If you’ve been missing your local television news forecast, fret no more, because it’s built right in.
Next to that is the advisory panel. Any weather alerts or advisories for your area are displayed here. If you want, you can set Weatherbug to notify you if there are advisories in your area, that way you don’t have to check this screen too often.
Last but not least is the help section. Here you will find answers to common problems or questions within the app.
What I Like About This App
WeatherBug is chocked full of information. Being that there is so much of it, the interface is very organized. Lesser apps would make you feel overwhelmed by the amount of data at your fingertips, but WeatherBug makes you feel like you’ve been using it for years.
What Could Be Better
My least favorite feature with this app is the live cameras. While they may prove useful to some people, you cannot select cameras in a specific area, and the cameras themselves are not very clear.
Understandably, the clarity of individual cameras is not the responsibility of the makers of WeatherBug, but a little more customization to the selection of cameras would be nice.
As stated earlier, the free version of WeatherBug is ad-supported. Some of you may not be bothered by the ads, but personally, there is a lot of information to be seen, and I don’t want it ruined by ads. Also mentioned earlier, animated radar maps are a feature of the elite version. This was a must-have for me because there are very few weather apps out there that offer this feature while giving so much more information too. Also with the elite version are some pretty nice widgets. The elite widget (actually named that) is a radar map for your home-screen, so if you want to see the radar at a glance, you don’t even have to open the app. Besides, you’re getting all of this for a whole two dollars. If you can’t spare two dollars for an awesome weather app, then what are you doing with a smartphone?
WeatherBug is quite easily my weather app of choice. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I have tried almost every weather app out there; Even many paid ones. With great features like animated maps (Elite), temperature overlays, alerts, pollen count, detailed forecasts and more, this weather app sits atop the mountain while telling all the other apps what the weather is like.
WeatherBug is available on the Android Market for free. (Ad supported) You can also purchase the Elite version for $2.00 which will give you more features, and no ads.