If the name AccuWeather sounds familiar to you, it's likely that you heard it from your local TV weatherperson. The company calls itself "the World's Weather Authority," but does AccuWeather's forecasting prowess translate well to its mobile app(s)?
Which App Is It?
The first confusing thing about AccuWeather is that there are numerous apps that all appear to do the same thing. For iOS, there's a free forecast app called "AccuWeather Weather App" and a $0.99 one called "AccuWeather Quick." It's not immediately clear what the advantage of the paid app is over the free app--aside from no ads--just from reading the description. Likewise, the Android Market has three different variations: AccuWeather.com (free), a free version of AccuWeather Quick, and a $0.99 version of AccuWeather Quick . We wish the app developers would have spent a little less time designing multiple apps and a little more time writing descriptions.
Since AccuWeather Quick shares the most features between iOS and Android, we reviewed that version of the app.
When you open AccuWeather Quick in either Android or iOS, the current conditions are shown on the top half of the screen and a side-scrolling nine-day forecast is on the lower half. You can opt to have the hourly forecast appear instead of the nine-day one. Tapping on the current conditions or a specific daily or hourly forecast opens the phone's browser and takes you to a mobile version of AccuWeather.com, which provides a less attractive, primarily text-based forecast, as well as links to other information that is duplicated in the app. There's really no reason for this, as going to a mobile web page defeats the purpose of having an app in the first place.
Turn the phone to landscape mode and the app displays a map with the latest radar information. Unfortunately, the map tended to be very broad and put the city we were looking at into the bottom right corner. When we checked the radar in Queens, NY, on our Android phone, the map was centered all the way up in Canada. We tried this again in Chicago with GPS turned on and the map showed a wide swath of the upper Midwest; most of Wisconsin was visible, along with northern Illinois, Lake Michigan, and parts of Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. Much like our Queens experience, Chicago was near the bottom of the screen on the right. We had to scroll down on the map to see the radar weather in New York. Unlike the Weather Channel app, AccuWeather Quick doesn't include animated radar maps.
The iPhone version of AccuWeather Quick opens with New York City and London as pre-loaded cities. We were able to add Chicago by clicking on the settings. To change between each of these cities, we had to shake the phone--kind of hard. It's a cute idea, but in practice it's annoying to use. We would prefer a simple button in the menu to change locations, like there is in the Android version, or a button on the main page of the app.
Thankfully, the Android version does not have the shake-to-change-cities "feature." The main difference between the two versions is that the Android app includes a small widget that's roughly the width of an Android homescreen panel and one icon high. It displays the current conditions for one city and has an arrow on the right side to view the five-day forecast for that city. Tapping on the widget opens the app. If you want to view two cities, you'll have to add the widget a second time.
Overall, we were not impressed with AccuWeather Quick. Even though it was as accurate as other apps, it lacks the animated radar and video options that many of the other apps in this roundup include, and we didn't like that we had to open the browser for more info. Plus, the assortment of similar AccuWeather branded apps is confusing. Instead, we recommend WeatherBug because of its hyper-local weather focus or the Weather Channel app for its animated radar maps.