When Sophiestication invited me to try a beta of her upcoming weather app, I was curious to see how the typical style of Sophia’s apps (Coversutra, Articles) would fit with this kind of software — I’m no Ben Brooks, but I’ve tried several weather apps for iOS in the past year, and I know that putting too much focus on the presentation, rather than data, can be counterproductive for the developer and an app’s success. That’s one of the reasons why apps like Weather HD quickly sold thousands of copies on the App Store, but never really got the weather geeks’ attention and long-term usage.
Magical Weather by Sophiestication might just hit the right spot between available weather data and attention to beautiful pixels. When you start the app for the first time (Magical Weather is iPad-only for now), you’re presented with a grid of thumbnails for different cities, labelled with their names and current temperature. You may notice the thumbnails are actually generated in real-time based on weather conditions, but more on this in a bit. The first item in the grid is “local weather”, which is obtained by default. You can add new locations to the app’s main screen by searching (city, ZIP and Airport codes are supported) and, with the Edit button, you can remove locations at any time. From the Settings popover in the upper left corner, you can set the temperature to Celsius and Fahrenheit, and tweak Wind Speed to the unit you’re more comfortable with.
When you tap on a location, the app brings you to a full-screen view of the current weather conditions. This new screen is gorgeous: Sophiestication built in several different animations that look great, and provide an instant summary of what’s going on. If it’s raining, you’ll see dark clouds and rain; if there’s a thunderstorm, you’ll see thunders animated on screen. But the real treat isn’t the weather animation itself — it’s the combination of beautiful artwork and data in the right sidebar.
As you open a location, in fact, Magical Weather will launch a weather animation and a sidebar containing a forecast, current temperature, and the following data:
- Current temperature with today’s high and low
- Relative humidity
- Probability of rain
- Atmospheric pressure
- Wind speed (in Beaufort, knots, mph, kph, or mps)
- Change in temperature since yesterday
- Current UV index
If you don’t understand the icons displayed on screen, you can hit the “?” button to make a handy guide appear explaining all the data points offered by Magical Weather. This sidebar, however, offers two additional views: you can “hide it” by dragging it at the bottom of the screen — thus displaying only the current temperature in a corner — or expand it by revealing an additional section with a hourly forecast. Weather icons and typography are extremely clear and legible, and look elegant no matter the background they’re visualized against.
At $0.99 on the App Store (limited time offer), Magical Weather is a great piece of work with beautiful graphics and data that doesn’t confuse the user. The app isn’t complex and doesn’t require a learning curve, it’s fun and intuitive to use. Magical Weather may not be enough for the uber-geek, but it’s a fine weather app for everyone else. Get it here.