Review: AccuWeather (compared with The Weather Channel)
No sooner do I go review one of the free weather apps (Weather Channel) but then AccuWeather.com comes out with another one. So I decided to review that as well. Both apps are free, so it really comes down to the features that they both have. In this review, I will be referencing The Weather Channel review and feature set as well.
AccuWeather.com is another full featured weather application, similar to The Weather Channel. In fact, their layout is very similar, and their feature sets are almost identical. As such, I won't be going into a lot of detail about the feature sets that are the same - rather, I will be pointing out the features that AccuWeather has which The Weather Channel doesn't have.
But first, the similarities. AccuWeather.com is laid out with a tabbed design, with 6 different tabs at the bottom. The Tabs are weather, radar, video, risk, alarms, and alert (The Weather Channel has weather, explore map, video, severe, and "more"). Many of the tabs are the same - the weather tab brings you to a screen where you can look at "right now", hourly, 5-day forecast, or the various indices (The Weather Channel is missing the indices, but it has a 1.5 day and a 10 day forecast). The AccuWeather program makes good use of images, showing you a picture of the current weather (cloudy, sunny, rainy, etc), and gives you the pressure, humidity, temperature, winds, and "feels like" temperature. The Weather Channel app includes a little more data like the UV index and the visibility.
One feature the AccuWeather hourly and 5-day forecast includes is the ability to tap on a specific interval (either a specific hour, or a specific day/night within the 5 day forecast) to get a few more details about the weather then. The indices tab includes 4 indices of current conditions - UV, air quality, arthritis, and flu index. As an allergy sufferer, I wish they included pollen index.
The radar feature is supposed to be an animated radar of the area. However, when I tried it, the animation was very choppy, and in one case the animation consisted of clouds just appearing or disappearing. This may be due to the connection, and it could be the quality of video depends on if you are connected via wifi or 3G. When I tried via wifi, the video was much smoother. However, unlike the Weather Channel program, you can't choose other overlays to look at on the map - you can only see the radar loop - no clouds, temperature, rainfall, etc.
The video tab includes a local report, breaking weather news, regional report, and a national overview. This is particularly nice if you are travelling, you aren't limited to a report in your area. You can also specify if you want a low res or high res video. The Weather Channel app only includes the local (or regional) report.
The risk tab include the risk of various types of severe weather over the next 8 hours - thunderstorms, rain, ice, fog, etc. The risk is indicated as a sliding bar - blue means no/little risk, red means high risk. This can be useful for planning a day's event, and it isn't just limited to the probability of rainfall. The Weather Channel app doesn't include anything like that.
The alarms tab includes various potential weather alarms over the next 5 days - things like winds gusts, rainfall amount, ice, etc. I am not sure the utility of this type of information - I suppose it presents a "quick view" summary of the more important weather events over the next few days.
Then, just like the Weather Channel app, it includes an "alert" feature for severe weather alerts (the Weather Channel app has "severe weather").
Both of these apps offer similar information, and both have a few features the other is missing. Notably, the Weather Channel app includes different map overlays, and wider range of forecasts. The AccuWeather app includes animated radar, and more indices and risk type information (either short term or long term). They are both free, so my best advice is to look at them both.
However, looking at the AccuWeather app alone (and technically this is a review of the AccuWeather app) it provides a nice cross section of information, however, some of the information includes seems of questionable benefit (it seems like they included it just to include more data). I can't say it is of no benefit, since someone might find it useful, but I am not sure how much use I will get from knowing how much ice I can expect over the next three days, instead of just knowing that there will be ice storms.
The animated radar is nice, but it seems like it works best if you are on a wifi connection. I like the range of videos that are offered, but I wish it included phase of the moon and sunrise/sunset information.
Pros: Nice interface, plenty of data at your fingertips
Cons: Some data may not be essential, radar loop only seems to work well on wifi, limited to 5 day forecast
All in all, this app provides a lot of information that can be useful, and is easy to use. Plus it's free, so try it. In fact, download them both, and see which you like. I am going to keep them both for a while, and I am curious as to which one people seem to prefer. Five out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.