Ever since purchasing my first iPhone, I’ve relentlessly searched for the best and brightest of third-party applications to supplement the utility and enjoyment an iPhone delivers out of the box. As much as I might love Apple and the products they create, I have to admit this exploration often includes looking for potentially superior replacements to the default apps that ship with iOS. Apple is known for making useful and well-designed software, but it’s not always the very best.
Cloudy with a Chance for Improvement
The Weather app that comes preinstalled on every iPhone is a prime example of this good-but-not-great level of quality unfortunately present in some of Apple’s apps. To be clear, the Weather app is actually very useful; it’s beautifully designed and unusually restrained in its presentation of data. But beneath the attractive surface, the app is really no more than a glorified Yahoo widget and has remained virtually unchanged since the original iPhone was announced over four years ago. Needless to say, there’s plenty of room for improvement here.
However, up until a few weeks ago, I had yet to find a suitable third-party replacement for the Weather app — one that struck the perfect balance between usability, presentation, and performance. I’ve tried more than a few alternatives, applications from AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, and others. Sadly, most failed miserably at any attempt to improve on Apple’s efforts, treating their users instead to a trifecta of fatal flaws: poorly designed interfaces, painfully slow load times, and an overabundance of information.
Sunny Skies Ahead
Thankfully, that all changed the moment I discovered Weather HD. Where others fell short in their quest to best Apple, Weather HD has succeeded, presenting the forecast with a perfect blend of gorgeous graphics, a thoughtful hierarchy of information, and surprisingly snappy performance. Even better, the app adeptly finds the ideal balance between Apple’s all too spartan presentation of data and the competitions’ almost laughable indulgence in every weather-related statistic known to man. Honestly, aside from those pursuing a career in meteorology, who really needs to know tomorrow’s dew point or yesterday’s average barometric pressure? Weather HD presents exactly the information you need and want, nothing more and nothing less.
The true killer feature of this application is not the data itself, but the beautiful backdrop upon which it’s presented. Each day’s forecast is faithfully rendered with stunning photo-realistic animations, creating a continuous visualization of what your day will look like once you step outside. In fact, each type of weather is actually represented by a variety of animations, creating a sense of time and depth that simply serves as icing on the cake. Weather HD’s gorgeous graphics distinguish it as one of the few iOS apps that truly have to be seen to be appreciated. I never expected to be wowed by something as mundane as a weather application, but clearly, I was mistaken.
The Wrap Up
Usually, even with apps that I genuinely love, I can find a few minor details that I would like to see changed or features I hope will be added; Weather HD is the rare exception. Here is an app that I honestly hope remains unchanged for the indefinite future. Maybe its developers can think up ways to prove me wrong and make the application even better. Until then, I’m content to have a weather app that’s as enjoyable to use as it is to look at, and maybe more importantly, I can finally banish Apple’s default app to a distant folder gathering dust on the third page of my home screen.