Whatever smartphones lack, it is not weather apps. No matter which platform you pick – even the much-maligned BB10 and WP8 – you will see a few decent weather apps pop up. So you had to say that Yahoo! was taking a bit of a risk when it launched a weather app and that too for the iPhone. Given the company’s mobile app track record, we cannot say that we were breathless with anticipation while we downloaded the 8.8 MB free app to our iPhone.
But we sure were once it ran.
For, there’s no doubting that Yahoo! Weather is one of the most beautiful weather apps we have seen. It’ a piece of art. And that’s saying something when you consider the competition around. And it gains its beauty from one of Yahoo!’s strengths – Flickr. Start the app, and give it access to your location, and it not only pulls out the current temperature, forecast for the coming five days, as well as information about sunrise and sunset, the moon, wind and pressure, but also places it over a beautiful image of the place taken from Flickr’s rich image treasury.
What’s more, the image changes depending on the weather conditions and the time – so a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius at noon will be accompanied by a very different image as compared to one accompanying a similar temperature at say, five in the evening. These are not generic images, Photoshopped to look extra-pretty, but real images taken by real users, and this gives the app a touch of authenticity that other generic weather apps lack. The photographers get credit for their work – you can click on their names at the bottom of the image to see how the image appears on Flickr.
You can add locations of your choosing and flick between them – holding your phone in landscape mode shows a simplified version of the app with only the photograph and the temperature. You can also see the location of the cities you have chosen on a small map, which expands when tapped twice. Different weather conditions are shown through simple icons, and you can shuffle their order by long pressing the transparent tile that represents them. Pulling down the top of the app refreshes the data in it. And it all works with remarkable fluidity and elegance, across a number of cities (it served up data on India’s national capital, as well as the lesser-known, much smaller town on Dimapur).
All of which makes Yahoo! Weather so easy to use and easy on the eye that you tend to forget its sore points. And it does have them. There is no way to customize the information you want to see, apart from reordering it and picking a city. You cannot specify how many days’ forecast you want, cannot remove a parameter, cannot even share weather updates on social networks, which seems kind of unfair on such an uber-cool looking app. The Flickr formula also does not ALWAYS work – we got shocked when we were shown a picture of the Himalaya mountains accompanying weather conditions in Puri, which is more than a thousand miles away – we verified the fact by clicking on the Flickr link (check accompanying pictures). And we found the app confusing “haze” with “fog” too easily for comfort. Early app blues? Maybe. We just hope Yahoo! will sort them out.
If it does, it has a weather winner on its hands. Of course, those who demand an elegant interface will parrot the virtues of Haze, and there will be others who will point out that there are apps like Accuweather that serve up more information. But when it comes to delivering information about the weather, present and forthcoming, in a simple and beautiful manner, then we must confess that Yahoo! Weather is one of the best apps we have seen. We found ourselves returning to it again and again, just to see new pictures from Flickr from our city corresponding to the weather.
It has its limitations but heck, even Achilles had a dinky heel. Right now, we must confess we are more than just a little in love.
Available from: iTunes App Store