Android: Irritated as I am that Dark Sky will no longer have a home on Android as of August 1, the pain is slightly lessened by other big weather players — a phrase I don’t get to use nearly enough — stepping up to provide similar services. Or, at least, that’s what AccuWeather is attempting to do in its app’s latest redesign, which launched yesterday.
Before we get to meteorology, let me address the elephant in the room: AccuWeather is full of ads. It’s annoying, it makes the UI look bad — even post-redesign — and it’ll cost you no less than $13 every year to remove them. I know you need to make that money, AccuWeather, but surely there is a way to incorporate advertising that doesn’t make your app look like a ‘90s-era Geocities page.
Since you’re reading this the day after AccuWeather’s update hit Google Play, and about a week after it dropped on the App Store, odds are good that you’ve downloaded and installed the updated version. If you’re not sure, here’s a quick way to tell. The old version looked like this:
Yuck. The new version looks like this:
Better. (But, again, those ads.)
If you’re curious what that sun-like design is in the centre of the app if for, that’s AccuWeather’s new “at a glance” feature for notifying you about upcoming precipitation about to hit your area and/or umbrella-less head. Since I live in Silicon Valley and it’s summertime, it’s a very boring image to look at. However, if you live in a place that actually knows what rain is, here’s what that gigantic circle might look like from time to time:
While I don’t love the design, it’s at least easy to read if you think of it like a clock face. If there’s no rain expected in your area over the next hour, you won’t see anything. However, you can tap on the gigantic circle to pull up an easier to read forecast for the next two hours that, if AccuWeather is accurate (read: lucky), will tell you to the minute when you might see rain:
Dark Sky-ish? You betcha. I’d absolutely turn to AccuWeather to see if I should grab an umbrella or my jacket before heading out to lunch. However, the one fatal flaw in AccuWeather’s update is that the app doesn’t yet include those charming, ever-present Dark Sky notifications that warn you when rain is a’coming. AccuWeather knows this, though, so hopefully this feature will arrive in a near-future update.
We will pass that suggestion along!
— AccuWeather (@accuweather) June 22, 2020
Beyond that, you can turn the AccuWeather app darker as part of the new update. Simply pull up its settings and look for the new “Display Mode” option, which let you force a dark or black theme or allow the app to match whatever you’ve set for your system-wide Android theme.
And that’s basically it. Well, that and a new bottom navigation bar that makes it easier to switch between your daily summary, hourly weather and live radar.
While I’m still not thrilled with those ads (or the cost to remove them), at least AccuWeather provides a half-decent replacement for Dark Sky — assuming its forecasts are good and accurate for your location. Once those notifications hit, it’ll be even better. At least you’ll be able to know at a glance if you should bring your umbrella with you when you head outdoors.