Pros: Attractive animated weather videos; Layout easily customized
Cons: Hard to read when all info is on screen; Navigation could be better
Verdict: Beautiful weather videos are the highlight of the Weather+ iOS app.
Weather+ provides current weather data, hourly forecasts, and weekly forecasts against an animated, idealized version of the current conditions. While the app is nice to look at and includes a decent amount of information, it sometimes presents too much data at once to be useful.
When you first open Weather+, you're greeted with four sections of information: the current time, location, and temperature; the five-day forecast; the hourly forecast; and the current wind, humidity, and precipitation data. Behind these semi-transparent blocks is an animated image of the current weather conditions; these vivid changing background images are what set Weather+ apart from other weather apps. For instance, overcast conditions are depicted with clouds backlit by the sun behind them. Tap on a day or time in the daily or hourly forecast and the background image changes to reflect it.
To complement these images, the app lets users choose between several different layouts that include as much or as little information as desired. Users can view the time, location, current conditions, five-day forecast, and hourly forecast on the screen or opt for just the time, location, and current temperature or any combination of the widget blocks.
Weather+ determined our location in Chicago using the Wi-Fi connection on our iPod Touch. We were also able to add cities by clicking on the small "i" button in the bottom-right corner of the app. Although the app told us to type in the name of a city, we entered a zip code and the app still returned results.
Weather+ can get confusing when you have all available data presented at once. The time, location, and current temperature are easy to read, but the five-day, hourly, and wind/precipitation information all use the same small font size. To make matters worse, the layout is such that there's too much extra space above the clock widget--space that could have been used to make the interface more readable. Even with only one or two widgets on the screen, the text size didn't change.
Navigation could be better, too. Tapping on a time of day in the hourly forecast or a day of the week in the five-day forecast changes the current conditions, hourly forecast, and background image. However, to change back to the current day, users have to either tap on the day in the five-day forecast, or exit out of the app and go back into it. Both the WeatherBug and Weather Channel apps had menu buttons for easily navigating back to the current conditions home page. While Weather+ has much of the same basic information that the Weather Channel app has, we prefer the clean layout of the latter. Also, much like Weather Droid, Weather+ aims for a simpler, quick-glance weather experience, and it doesn't include radar maps or videos like WeatherBug and the Weather Channel.
Free vs. Paid Version
The free version of Weather+ is ad-supported, lacks hourly forecast data, and only lets you choose between the full layout and a minimal one. However, it does include numerous buttons to encourage you to upgrade to the full version. There are two on the main page of the app itself--one where the hourly forecast would be located and another at the bottom by the settings button. Two more "encouragements" to upgrade appear on the Locations and Layout settings menu. The $1.99 paid version dispenses with the ads and annoying calls to update and includes hourly forecasts and a full set of layout options.
We really enjoy the vivid images that liven up Weather+, but it's a little hard to read and navigate. We prefer WeatherBug's layout, which may not have as many bells and whistles at first but is easier to use. Still, if you're more interested in beautiful weather videos than in forecast minutiae and don't mind small print, Weather+ is worth a look.
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