Jun
25
2012

Review of WTHR – A Simpler, More Beautiful Weather App

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I admit it, I have a bit of a fetish for weather apps. My taste in them is a bit different than all the other categories because I am a data geek when it comes to what’s happening outside. Apps like WeatherSnitch do a great job showing you a lot of info on a small screen but many don’t present them to the user very effectively. Until Dark Sky for iPhone came out, I didn’t think I could use a weather app that focused on the important details instead of all of them. Since then I have changed the way I use weather apps and rely on Dark Sky for short forecasts / radar and iOS’ built-in Weather app for extended forecasts until today.

WTHR is a brand new weather app from David Elgena. He wanted to build a weather app based on Dieter Rams’ 10 principles of design so the user could stop wasting time staring at weather radars and atmospheric pressure readings and spend more time enjoying what’s happening outside. WTHR started as a mockup on Dribbble about a month ago and received a lot of attention there. More mockups and a programmer later, WTHR was submitted to Apple and is available today.

WTHR is one of the best looking weather apps available — I love the style and simplicity of it. I appreciate that it hides the status bar to give your entire iPhone the look of being a handheld weather device with zero distraction. Launch the app, watch the animations, get your forecast and go. Some people may not like the color scheme but if you know Dieter Rams’ designs you understand where the colors come from. When you launch the app, it asks for your location then the UI presents the weather data in a retro-futuristic style. There’s only 2 buttons to interact with, one to refresh the forecast and the other to flip from Celcius to Fahrenheit. The refresh animation is great and the spinning notification in the 7-day forecast almost looks like a Rams dial. Underneath the current forecast is a 7 day extended forecast. All the weather icons are Adam Whitcroft’s wonderful Climacons which look perfect to the stylings of WTHR.

David Elgena told me that they are already working on future updates to include, but not complicate, more features and data like multiple locations and a dark mode. “My intentions with WTHR was really to create something as beautiful as the device that hosts them… and I do believe that even UI designers and app developers could gain inspiration from Dieter Ram’s product designs. Too often we load digital products with features and hidden or hard to use interfaces because we are suddenly given this almost infinitely layered product, the real discipline is control. There is no difference from when Dieter Rams was designing his first clock face…to an app on the iPhone. I look forward to creating more apps in the future…and continually improving upon WTHR.”

The lack of contrast in the 7-day forecast can make you squint a bit — an option to switch to a 5-day forecast could help. I’m glad the app icon wasn’t designed with the same skeuomorphism in mind, as I am not a fan of doing this in iOS because it clashes too much with most other icons. International iOS users – don’t worry, WTHR uses a global geo-location weather API so no one is exempt from using this great app. The weather data is a little different than what iOS uses but only a few degrees at times as Federico noticed in Italy. WTHR has gained a spot on my home screen with its beautiful, focused purpose. WTHR is available for 99¢ via the App Store.

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