Weather is a very popular subject. I’m sure many of you have found yourself talking to someone you’ve just met, or aren’t very familiar with, and the subject of weather provided you a few moments of semi-awkward conversation. For most, weather is the first or second thing they check when they wake up in the morning (email being the other major priority).
With weather being such an important part of our lives, it’s equally as important to get your weather news as easily as possible, with the knowledge that the information you’re getting is accurate (or as accurate as you can be with weather). Since its launch in 1982, The Weather Channel has been one of the most trusted sources for weather news, so it comes as no surprise that The Weather Channel for iPad would be one of the best weather apps available in the App Store. Join us after the jump for an in depth look.
When you fire up The Weather Channel for the first time, you’ll need to grant the app permission to view your location (you can opt out this and simply search for your location if you prefer). The first page you’ll see after dealing with the initial notifications is the Weather page, which is where you’ll find most of the interesting information. By default, this page displays the location (i.e. city, state), temperature and weather conditions, and a 10-day forecast. If you’re holding the iPad in portrait mode, you can the high and low temperatures broken out in a line graph (which is pretty nifty).
If you tap the anywhere above the 10-day forecast section, you’ll transition to a current conditions screen, which provides more in-depth information about current weather conditions (e.g. wind, humidity, dew point, UV level, visibility, sunrise and sunset). I really enjoy the overall design of this page because it provides all the information you need in a very non-cluttered, minimal way. The animated background is also a really nice touch, but it’s not anything we haven’t seen from other weather apps.
The 10-day forecast section is also very well designed for the iPad, with each day divided up in its own panel. For each day, you’re provided the expected conditions (e.g. mostly cloudy, sunny, showers), high and low temperatures, and the chance of precipitation percentage. If you tap on either the current day or next day panel, a more detailed breakdown of the forecast is displayed, including an hour-by-hour listing of conditions, temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind. If that’s not enough for you, you can tap the 15 Minute button to see weather info at the 15, 30 and 45 minute marks.
Tapping on the panels for any of the remaining eight days will display a much less detailed list of information. Instead of an hourly breakdown of weather info, you’re offered up a 24-hour summary that provides a general overview of the day’s forecasted weather; the high and low temperatures; and expected winds, precipitation levels, humidity levels for the daytime and nighttime, as well as the projected times for sunrise and sunset.
To take full advantage of what The Weather Channel has to offer, you’ll need to utilize the Favorites feature, which is accessed by tapping the magnify glass icon in the bottom right corner. To add a location, begin typing the city name or zip code in the provided text field and tap on your desired option in the Results drop down. A prompt will appear on screen asking if you’d like to add the location to your Favorites (a tad annoying, but it’s better than just adding all of your searches to your Favorites automatically).
When you have more than one location saved to your Favorites, you can easily toggle between them by flicking left or right anywhere above the 10-day forecast section.
When you add a location to your favorites, you can activate notifications (accessed by tapping the detail disclosure button next to the location). The Weather Channel offers two types of notifications: pollen and severe weather, which are both activated (when needed) as a push alert. One drawback of notifications is that they can only be set for one location at a time. I haven’t experienced severe weather or severe pollen conditions in my neck of woods for awhile, so I can’t say speak to how well this feature actually works.
The feature I like the most in The Weather Channel is maps. Knowing the forecast is great, but that information can be found in every weather app. When it’s raining/snowing, or about to rain/snow, the first thing I want to see is the radar map. It’s worth noting that because of how iOS works, The Weather Channel uses Apple Maps, which I actually really love. Despite it’s current issues, Apple Maps is really gorgeous and provides a great contrast (unlike The Weather Channel website, which uses Bing maps) with the variety of map layers offered in the app.
Speaking of map layers, you can access a slew of them (e.g. clouds, radar & clouds, temperature, feels like, 24 hour rain, 24 hour snow) by tapping the Map Layers button in the top navigation bar. If you’re going on a trip or an outing, the Points of Interest menu might be somewhat helpful. When you tap one of the six options (e.g. airports, parks, golf courses), purple pins will display on the map to give you an idea of what the weather is going to be like in each point of interests’ area.
There are more features to enjoy in The Weather Channel, such as news, videos and pollen forecasts, but at its core, the app is about providing weather information and forecasts, and giving you a bird’s-eye view of current conditions via maps, both of which the app does very well. When you stack it up against some of the other well received weather apps for the iPad (e.g. Weather+, Weather Live, NOAA Hi-Def Radar, AccuWeather), The Weather Channel offers the same (if not more) information, but in an app that’s better designed and a friendlier user experience, all at the price of free.
With all of this praise, you may be under the impression that The Weather Channel is free of flaws. It isn’t. For one, I really wish an in-app purchase was available to remove the ads (I made a similar statement in my iPhone review, but I guess the developers didn’t read it). Second, the maps controls are really difficult use (the website controls are much better), and I really wish the timeline feature (allowing you to see current conditions, as well projected conditions for the next five hours) from The Weather Channel’s website was implemented in the app. But even with these hiccups, I fully recommend that you give The Weather Channel for iPad a go.