forecast.io is one of the most intriguing weather forecasting services. It takes a hyper-local approach, promising to be able to predict rain or snow in your precise location down to the minute.
The makers of Forecast built Dark Sky for iPhone, and in the process created one of the most beautiful weather apps for any smartphone platform. However the developers have said they have no plans to bring Dark Sky to Android, thus opening the door to third party developers.
Arcus Weather is not a clone of Dark Sky—although its package name does contain the word darksky, ensuring it will show up in seaches for that app—but it does use the forecast.io API for its weather service. It’s the closest thing Android has to Dark Sky, and one of the few hyper-local forecasting apps on Android. But is it any good?
Arcus design and useability
Arcus has a minimalist, monchrome style that conforms with the Holo design guidelines. It’s a very basic, information-led design, and while not unattractive falls well below the level set by many other Android weather apps.
It requires little setup. The app will detect your location automatically and will show you, by default, the current conditions. This includes the temperature, how far away the nearest rain is, and the prospects of rain in the next hour, displayed on a graph.
A swipe to the right shows the forecast fro the next two days, split by hour, in both graph and list form. A further swipe shows the next week as a list with a brief summary of what can be expected.
Pretty simple stuff, then. You can add extra locations in the sidebar to the left, and also upgrade the app through in-app purchases. You can rid the app of ads for 60p, upgrade the widget for £1.19, and unlock everything for ever for £1.62.
How good is forecast.io?
We never felt totally confident using Arcus as our only weather app; it was more of a complement to a more traditional one (our choice for the UK is Met Office Weather).
It’s focus on rain is great for that purpose, but there’s a lack of information about wind or UV index, which are all standard in other weather apps.
Arcus also doesn’t make use of the full forecast.io service. A quick visit to the website in your phone’s browser shows a web app that includes a full map view so you can see the incoming rain clouds. Adding this would provide a major upgrade to Arcus.
The other reason for our doubts about Arcus relate to the Forecast serve itself. It currently works in the US and UK, and we found that the conditions change so quickly in the UK that the ultra-precise predictions were frequently of questionable value. The app is great for telling you if you need to take an umbrella if you’re going out right now, but for predictions more than a couple of hours ahead would be no more accurate than other services can provide.
Still, if you like weather apps Arcus is worth trying. It has good widgets, works with Dashclock, and is inexpensive to upgrade. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. With a bit more polish and a few extra features it could turn into something great—but don’t uninstall your main weather app just yet.
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