Showing posts with label weather apps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weather apps. Show all posts

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

iPhone Killer Apps - Met Office Weather

Met Office

I am obsessed with the weather, I live in London, try to Boris bike or walk to most meetings and train for triathlons when I can, and have done some showcase apps for big product launches around weather apps, and so take my weather very seriously. I am not alone. I also take the met office very seriously, which more people should do, as there are even parts of the US military and other armies around the world who trust the Met office more than they do their own systems... it is now my favourite iPhone weather app.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

netatmo weather station app review

.iPhone and Android killer weather app and weather station - Netatmo

There is only one thing better than a great app (stop it!) and that's a great app with a great piece of hardware. Whether its just (£100) a Jawbone Up and its related app or a BMW i3 and remote control app the netatmo app and its associated hardware are up there with a great hardware/app UX.

For me especially so as I have worked on a lot of weather apps over time, and am a self confessed "weather head", add this to the fact that I am also British and therefore pre-programmed to like Benny Hill humour and talking about the weather, and so I am as much of the target audience for the Netatmo as you can get!

apart from making a living from apps, I am also a hardware freak and love great design and the usually great user experience that comes from this, I am saying all this as to explain what a great experience the Netatmo is from end to end.

This pretty much continues all the way to realising the possibilities of this device (remote wine cellar humidity, humidor monitoring, basement damp linked to remote controlled dehumidifier...) and the usefulness of accurate weather.

Firstly, the product arrives, no fuss, shipped direct from our froggy friends across the channel. And very well presented too.
All good user experiences begin with good packaging
It also comes preparred to be put in the right place, with a handy velcro strap... why on earth many of the others just come with screws is beyond me!
Physical installation is easy as well with a velcro strap using the same slot as the usual screw fixing
So, you've opened it up, could not wait to set-up and that was all very easy... the world is very happy for the control freak, but: Next up - back to the weather station... and a good few gadget freaks ask me, why? what's wrong with all the weather apps out there?

Well for me there are two gaps in the market that Netatmo fill:

Weather app accuracy

Your present weather comes from two places probably anything from a few km to 50km or further away and does not represent where you are if there are significant geographical, demographical or other 'phical disturbances in the way.... At best it represents somewhere near.
Where you live / work and where you get weather from may be very different
So when I get up on an average Saturday in the UK, look at one weather app and it says its going to rain at 10am, another at 2pm, its the difference between being able to do your planned event or not. Accurate weather is important to me as I do a lot of sport, and cycling in the rain is pretty miserable, I also try an plan things like picnics, barbecues and other events that rain puts a blanket over. It's safe to say for me its an important factor in quality of life, being able to plan your day and not have to worry about the impact of the weather. Even if its not raining, a run, walk or ride in the wrong clothes is a pain, especially exercise. In my case my weather is derived from a) Westminster, yes Big Ben Westminster, which is 2 miles of city away and on the river (usually up to 2'C out from my weather and a huge variation in humidity) and Heathrow Airport, south west of me, on this island that has a predominant south westerly wind and so its weather is that of a front or other weather "element" that has yet to hit one of the lowest and therefore most expansive dense urban areas there is (London is very low rise and therefore spreads across a huge patch of ground). This again is pre-pollution, pre city weather. usually lower in temperature and humidity is not consistent with where I am and any rain this weather carries usually get's dumped in suburbia before it reaches me.

This is not just a London thing, a place I have been often between Santander and Bilbao on the Spanish coast has no weather station of its own, but is very different from either, despite your weather app saying "Castro" its actually taking its reading from Santander. I also grew up in a micro-climate on the east cost of Spain that grows mangos and avocado pears due to its tropical micro-climate, and ... the list goes on...

Local weather variations

Weather varies even in the same place whether you are in the sun or the shade, and at different times of the day / year this makes a huge difference. In the summer in the UK, its important to know when its 30'C in the sun (it does happen) but only 20'C in the shade, or worse in winter when it says 15'C, the feels like gives you a clue with a 12'C, but there is nothing like checking the Netatmo in the shade at 9'C to know its colder than it seems... I have tried with Oregon scientific and other alarm clocks / weather stations and they have two problems: 1) they do not seem that accurate, and usually only have temperature with no context, and 2) they are not connected to the internet, and so are, well just dirty. 
zoom in to outdoor for full hourly precipitation of where you are
The Netatmo lets you get this right by placing the weather station, complete with barometer, humidity sensor as well as temperature right where you want to know the weather, not some random approximation between two places.

Quality of life

So why is all this important. Well, I try and swim, bike and run as well as having other commitments like work and a family and so knowing the exact weather where I live, work and train in real time and/or remotely allows me to do more with my time, which for me increases my quality of life. It also allows me to get the most out of my run or ride without sweating buckets in a top designed for a few degress of temperature and 10% less humidity, because I do not usually have time to change when I sneak a run at lunchtime or before work.

Being able to monitor the humidity of things like wine, cigars or other rooms (like a greenhouse, for example) would also increase quality of life for many people.

and obviously when I am there as well, and only something like Netatmo let's you do this without surprises of the weather variety and wearing the right amount of clothing so you do not drown in your own sweat or freeze to death... and the Netatmo let's me do this in just the right amount of control freak I need :)

Netatmo experience

Back to getting to grips with amazing app / hardware integration, the out of the box experience...
You could not open this box, and put it away for later...
To the app based set-up are a pleasure to go through and a masterclass in UX
This process triggers exactly zero calls / emails to customer service asking "exactly how/where do I..." 
To then swiping up and down between modules.... and the ipad app is even better...
Tablet experience is built around the tablet screen size and DPI
So any gripes? well, I have not yet tried to add other modules for my non existent wine collection or very small humidor, or other locations to see how they work with the app, and honestly cannot imagine how they will do it an keep the whole thing as slick as it is... But will experiment at some point soon...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

climate clock killer app weather apps

I have ended up doing a lot of work on weather apps over the years, and a lot of work on UE of apps to either make them better, unique, luxury, worthy of a product launch, etc.

So I was very excited to come across climate clock for a few reasons, firstly because it brings together two key recurring themes of mine;weather apps and app user design, but also as it marks the beginning of a new period on app design as far as I am concerned.
Climate Clock is a unnecessarily beautiful by design - finally we have apps like this! 
So why is this app so important? Well, I started life in consulting as an e-commerce consultant, and watched and analysed the web from dreadful days of active gif ridden sites to the responsive web we have today, and in between there were some design treats and progresses that made my life, and those who consume the web... well, better.

A quick example, to show you where i am going, was the Jackson Pollock page of a good few many years ago, but there gave been more from pixel mosaics, to pixel art and more.
Hours of fun can be had at which caused a stir in its day
Climate Clock is the first app I have come across that you will just open for the sake of it, with no need for the time nor the weather, just to see the background and its progress... which is a huge development in apps. yes, there are beautiful apps out there, from path to even functional apps like Relais & Châteaux, but this is different, this is design in technology because we can... and life is just not worth living if people do not sometimes do things great and do great things just because they can!

Back to the app as an app, its actually not that useful at telling the weather over time in the main screen, however, swipe from the bottom and the most useful omission from most weather apps appears: a ten day forecast.
10 day forecast within the context of the main screen make the app very useful as well
I know and appreciate the amount of thought that has gone into this app - I and a UE designer spent 200 hours getting the first, now omnipresent three day weather button for active views for the Accuweather app for a showcase handset launch, and that was just an active icon!
200 hours work!
From there there is not that much to write home about - there is the usual gesture to go from location to location, however then there are clever but not intuitive other gestures to edit locations, which had me screaming at the app at first. fortunately, the app is pretty enough to get away with it and reveals a pretty, dare I say, Metro-esque settings page.
did anyone see a Metro UX guideline document handing around anywhere??? :-D
... and yes, my life is so glamorous I need to know the weather in Reading... don't ask...

So there we have it, combine a clock and weather and you have a killer app, and well worth spending 69 finest British pence on. If only now we could edit the Apple home screen on iPhone and iPad to have the weather app we want, instead of the abomination that now is the native iPhone weather app (no, its not 2007 any more Apple...) or the lack of weather that iPad owners are deemed to have... you could even edit the homescreen apps on Symbian, let alone iPhone modern day competitors.. and yes, that does include Windows Phone!