The Windows Phone Store shelves are lined with a vast assortment of weather apps - some good, some bad. They come in an equally vast assortment of styles from the feature rich to those that deliver just the basics on the weather.
Spring is around the corner and in many parts of the U.S. that means it is time for severe weather. Many of these weather apps will help you keep in tune with the conditions in your area and help you prepare for what Mother Nature has in store. Severe weather aside, these apps can also help you year round with trip planning to finding a rain free day to mow the yard.
The Windows Phone Store has a Weather Collection that has a nice selection of weather apps and while we plucked a few from this Collection for this week's roundup, we are also highlighting a few weather apps outside the Collection that we have found to be useful.
The AccuWeather app is one of the handful of official apps we have from major weather sources. The Weather Channel app, Bing Weather and WeatherBug would also fall into this category and it is a close call as to which of these four are the better (even though the re-design of the Weather Channel app may help make the choice easier). Nonetheless, for this roundup, we tossed a coin and AccuWeather won out.
Key features include:
- MinuteCast - A minute by minute forecast for rain over the next two hours. In a nutshell if rain is in the forecast, the AccuWeather app will predict how long it will be before rain reaches your location along with its intensity and duration.
- Severe weather notification - These notifications are for all your locations and are visible throughout the app and through push notifications.
- Animated radar.
- Lifestyle forecasts - Curious how the weather will be for a day on the golf course, tennis court, stargazing or kite flying.? AccuWeather will give you a rating on how well the weather is expected for a large range of lifestyle activities.
- Forecasts - AccuWeather provides your current conditions, a 14 day forecast and an hourly forecast.
- Lockscreen and Live Tile support - Delivers the basic weather data to both your Windows Phone Start Screen and Lockscreen.
I like AccuWeather for the notifications it offers on severe weather warnings, for not only your location but also any other location you follow. This allows you to monitor not only your weather but also the conditions at your parent's, children's or friend's location (should it be in a different Zip Code).
Along with the Windows Phone version, there is also a Windows 8 version of AccuWeather. My only nit with the app is that I would like to see an option to remove ad-support. That ad banner at the top of the screen can be a little on the annoying side.
2. Amazing Weather HD
Amazing Weather HD may very well be the most popular Windows Phone weather app in the Store. It has a very clean appearance, covers the basic forecast information nicely and has a ton of options (well maybe not a ton) for Lockscreen and Live Tile support.
Amazing Weather HD's presentation is rather brief with a single page that offers your current conditions and a ten day extended forecast. This provides a quick snapshot of your weather picture without the need to move around the app.
However, when you do move around the app, Amazing Weather HD will provide you with plenty of weather information. Tap the brief, extended forecast displayed on the main page and a more detailed information will pull up on the days ahead.
Three buttons rest at the bottom of the screen to view an hourly breakdown of the forecast, view radar and satellite images and to pin the location to your Start Screen. Radar and satellite images are not animated.
Other key features of Amazing Weather include:
- Support for five Live Tiles with several layout styles to choose from for each size tile
- Auto location using your Windows Phone GPS
- Weather alerts via toast notifications and on the Live Tile
- Lockscreen support with seven layout options and four sources for your background image (Bing – Daily, Amazing Weather, Custom Image and Local Album)
What I like about Amazing Weather HD is that it can provide the basic weather information on the fly through Live Tile and Lockscreen support but you also have the ability to customize what information is displayed. I would like to see animated radar come into play with Amazing Weather HD but with other options available when the need for radar arises, it's not a deal breaker.
3. Weather Hound
Weather Hound is another simple, clean looking weather app option worth considering. While Weather Hound lacks a weather radar feature, it does include a host of features to keep you up to date on the weather forecast.
The main pages for Weather Hound include:
- A summary of the current conditions which includes a day and weekly weather summary
- An hourly breakdown of the expected weather
- A seven day forecast
- A listing of any weather alerts for your forecast area
Settings cover lockscreen, Live Tile and general options. Lockscreen support will display your current conditions with the option to include a three-day forecast along with Bing wallpapers, custom images or a solid color as the background. Weather Hound has Live Tile support with a transparency option and two layout styles for the medium and wide tile size.
For the most part, Weather Hound is a very simple weather app that makes it easy to get the basic forecast information on the run. The weather alerts features keeps you apprised of any severe weather issues and there is International location support.
Combine Weather Hound with a weather radar app and you have a decent one-two punch with regards to weather coverage. Weather Hound is rated at 4.5 stars in the Windows Phone Store, which is spot on for this weather app. The one downside that may turn a lot of Windows Phone users away from this app, no trial.
Oh and as an added bonus, you have the option to pick up New York City Subway information to the weather forecasts through a $.99 in-app purchase. If you frequent the NYC subways, this add-on will keep you up to date on any service issues that might impact your commute.
4. Appy Weather
Appy Weather is one of the cleanest looking weather apps available in the Windows Phone Store. Navigating around the app is fast and fluid, taking full advantage of the panoramic design the Modern design affords. Forecast information is presented in a more personal nature, not only offering the nuts and bolts of the forecast but also how it feels. For example, if it is brutally cold out today tomorrow's forecast might add that it will not feel as cold as it does today.
Appy Weather provides:
- Your current conditions along with what is expected in the next hour and later in the day.
- Forecasts for today, tomorrow and the upcoming weekend.
- Seven day extended forecast.
The Windows Phone weather app also includes Live Tile and Lockscreen support. For the most part Appy Weather is a very basic weather forecast app and while it lacks weather radar, it does have one feature that will help greatly during severe weather events.
When a weather advisory, watch or warning is issued for your location, Appy Weather's Live Tile will turn red. Not just a small corner of the tile but the entire tile will turn red. It is a great visual alert that is hard to miss.
I wouldn't mind seeing an animated radar feature land with Appy Weather eventually, but I like the clean appearance and when I see the red Live Tile I can always jump to a weather radar Windows Phone app.
The trial version of Appy Weather gives you full access to the app for seven days, after which it will cost you $2.99 to continue using Appy Weather.
5. NOAA Hi-Def Radar – Weather Forecast and Maps
While some of these Windows Phone weather apps are very capable of delivering forecast information to your Windows Phone and alert you of severe weather potential, some lack a weather radar feature. In those cases, there are some quality weather radar apps in the Windows Phone Store and NOAA Hi-Def Radar – Weather Forecast and Maps ranks amongst the best options.
The app delivers real-time, hi-definition, animated radar imagery to your Windows Phone. Radar images are provided from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) satellites. Along with weather radar, NOAA Hi-Def Radar also provides a weather forecast that details the current conditions and a five day extended forecast.
The NOAA app will allow you to control the loop speed of the radar and intervals between individual frames. You also have layers that include cloud coverage, active warning and terrain/map views. You can quickly center the radar based on your location, navigate around the map by touch or have pre-set locations to switch between.
Because of the satellite coverage, the NOAA Hi-Def Radar app only provides coverage for the U.S., Puerto Rico and Guam. Coverage for Alaska includes only the southern coastal areas and does not include the Aleutian chain. For those outside of these areas, I'm thinking AccuWeather may be the best option for global radar sites.
I would like to see storm track information added as a radar layer but as is, NOAA Hi-Def Radar – Weather Forecast and Maps is a quality option to consider. While there is no trial version available for NOAA, the app is also available for Windows 8 devices as a universal title.
6. What Say You?
While this week's roundup touches on several of the weather app options available in the Windows Phone Store. We have likely skipped over some of your favorites that might include Forecast, Bing Weather, 4Castr or Weather Flow. There's no conspiracy afoot but we had to limit the number or this would roundup would be more of a novel than a post.
Personally, I have several weather apps installed on my Windows Phone and while I am currently using Appy Weather for its Live Tile alerts, NOAA Hi-Def Radar for radar imagery and AccuWeather and Weather for weather narratives.
Which one is the best? There is now easy answer and I firmly believe that with weather apps, one size does not fit all. It may sound like an easy answer but the best weather app is the one that meets your needs the best. If you are new to Windows Phone or simply tired of the weather app you are currently using, take a few out for a test drive and see which one suits your needs best.
So now it is your turn. What is your favorite Windows Phone weather app? Let us know in the comments below your recommendation on a Windows Phone weather app. And here's hoping that after such a harsh winter we all have a very calm Spring.