App of the Week: Dark Sky, the Most Beautiful Weather App You'll Ever Use
App: Dark Sky
Platform: iPhone, iPad
I am a huge weather nerd, so naturally I have a bunch of weather apps. I've reviewed quite a few and ranked them on occasion. Whenever I come across a new one that gets good reviews, I immediately take a look.
Unfortunately, most weather apps are pretty much the same old thing. They provide some forecast information, basic radar, current conditions and the like. The best of the bunch, like WeatherBug, are very helpful. Some choose to do only one thing extremely well, like Hi-Def Radar, Hurricane or WeatherGeek. Dark Sky falls under that second category and its advantage is less about what it does than how it does it.
First off, Dark Sky is simple. Really simple. Log in, allow it to find your location and look through the limited but interesting features. The main screen shows what is happening now (temperature and whether it is raining or not), what is to come one hour from now and a chart showing what is predicted to be heading your way from 10 to 50 minutes from now. Flip the bottom of the screen up and you get a rundown of the temperature and rainfall for the day.
Dark Sky is all about rain. If there is none in your area, it will give you some suggestions of where to look for rain so you can see how the interface works. Finally, there is a radar button that shows you radar for your immediate area. You can also add push notifications to let you know that rain is coming. From what I've read from reviewers, these notifications are extremely accurate. Dark Sky works off of local radar systems to pinpoint storm track and give you a warning.
But none of that is particularly standout when it comes to weather apps. What is standout, however, is how it looks. The graph of what is to come on the main screen is an elegant, undulating chart with spikes for severe weather that change as the storm changes.
The radar is a gorgeous, fluid map with a slider that lets you go back nearly five hours to see what has happened and forward up to an hour to see what is coming. Unlike most maps that live on the Google Map interface, Dark Sky's maps are black and simplistic, which makes them exceedingly easy to read.
The radar also responds extremely quickly, which is not the case for all weather apps.
While there have been some complaints from people who live in areas where radar is apparently spotty, the coverage is generally good. The problem is that the price is high for an app that does so little. The nearly four-dollar price tag is higher than almost any other weather app I've purchased and even though it looks amazing, paying $3.99 for a weather app with such limited functionality might be a stretch for the average user.
If you are really into weather, Dark Sky is an app you'll want. It's startlingly simple and beautifully designed. If you are just looking for an app to quickly give you weather information on the go, there are better and cheaper apps to accomplish what you need, so you can skip it.