capsule review

Accuweather.com

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Accuweather.com

AccuWeather.com, the iPhone and iPod touch offering from the granddaddy of weather forecasters, is timely and appears as accurate as the other top weather apps for Apple's mobile devices. It also sports a clean, intuitive interface and an elegant design that's easy on the eyes. AccuWeather's home screen provides basic current information--but not a hint of what's to come. This clues us in to AccuWeather.com's one major flaw: In many aspects, it lacks depth.

AccuWeather provides just enough information on the home screen to let you know it's a weather app: current temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, and "RealFeel". The background image does change with time of day and conditions: light with clouds (or blue skies, or umbrellas) during the daytime, dark at night. This eye candy looks great the first few times, but soon it wears thin, and you wonder why the screen space isn't given over to, say, a brief forecast, or perhaps a larger font.

Hourly forecasts are lacking. If you check out the hourly forecast at 8 a.m., you'll get the predictions until noon. If you check out the hourly forecast before bedtime you'll know what it's like when you're in deep slumber, but not when you walk the dog at 6 tomorrow morning. The appl includes the same details for each hour as it does on the current conditions home screen, along with a graphic indicating a prediction of sun, clouds, rain, snow, and so forth.

AccuWeather.com's five-day forecast proves adequate, letting you switch between day and night forecasts by clicking on either the sun or moon icon. Throughout the app, the text forecasts are very readable despite the small fonts. Typically the font color is white on a black background--far superior to The Weather Channel's white-on-light-blue format.

AccuWeather's radar in motion feature works fine for some metropolitan areas, but not so well for others. For major North American cities like New York and Miami, radar seemed fine. Radar images covering London and New Delhi are so blotchy as to be useless. You can zoom in and out of radar in motion using the familiar finger motions, but the zooming capability is limited to a geographic area of a few hundred miles. If you're looking for weather patterns further downstream, look elsewhere.

AccuWeather's five-day forecast provides information for both day and night; switch between the two by clicking on the sun and moon icons. Other features provided by AccuWeather include bar charts indicating "severe weather potential" for next eight hours (such as thunderstorms, rain, snow, ice, wind, and fog); "risk" charts that let you know if it's a bad time for arthritis sufferers in the area, or if there's a flu epidemic; and severe weather alerts. Video choices for a given area can include local, regional, national, and "breaking" weather news. Some videos are outdated: when I checked my regional video on a Monday morning, the meteorologist began with his forecast for the previous weekend. However, the regional forecasts cover many cities, which pretty much ensures that it will provide some relevant information. The local forecast for my area, central North Carolina, correctly focused on Raleigh.

Overall, this is a stronger offering than the App from The Weather Channel, AccuWeather's main big-brand competitor. Information is easier to read, local and regional video forecasts are more detailed and cover more cities, and a greater portion of the world is covered--much of Asia appeared to be uncharted territory for The Weather Channel, but AccuWeather's video forecast for Asia even included remote outposts like Katmandu and Lhasa.

I prefer this app over The Weather Channel's, but my favorite is a standalone version of the Weather Underground's mobie site. It's packed with detail, easy to read, and provides radar in motion that works without a hitch.

--Jeff Merron

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Accuweather.com

Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.