CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During recent travels, I tried several free weather apps for the iPhone and Android phones. I evaluated each based on features and ease of use.
The ones I tested operate similarly on iPhones and Android phones, though there are some differences in how information gets presented or accessed. Here’s a look at three apps I recommend:
The Weather Channel
When you open this app, the home screen presents you with current conditions, including temperature, humidity, wind, visibility, UV index (a gauge of the strength of ultraviolet radiation) and dew point. You also get information on sunrise and sunset times.
Navigating the tabs, you get hourly forecasts for the next 24 hours on the iPhone and 15 on the Android. On both, you get daily forecasts for the next 10 days. The Android version doesn’t include dates. Click on “36 Hour” for brief written summaries for today, tonight and tomorrow.
The map shows you the radar for your region You can switch that to show cloud cover instead of radar, or show both. You can also add details such as rain or snow over the past 24 hours.
You can check weather anywhere in the U.S. by entering a city name or ZIP code.
The app also offers video of weather forecasts and news.
Conclusion: You get lots of information on current conditions and the most options of the three for viewing maps. Limiting hourly forecasts to 24 hours or less is stingy.
The home screen also offers temperature, humidity, wind, UV index and visibility conditions, plus sunrise and sunset. The Android version lists wind gusts, not just wind speeds. The iPhone version has information on dew point, while Android does not.
AccuWeather offers 15 days of forecasts. Its extended forecasts are more detailed than The Weather Channel’s. You can click on a day to get those details.
AccuWeather offers just 24 hours of hourly forecasts on its app.
AccuWeather has more details than The Weather Channel for each hour, though you’re left to figure out where to flick and touch to get those details.
AccuWeather’s map is adequate, but doesn’t offer as many options as The Weather Channel’s.
As for location, the Android version has a target icon on the home screen to quickly pull up information on where you are.
AccuWeather doesn’t offer suggestions as you start typing in the name of a city.
AccuWeather offers local, regional and national video.
Conclusion: The app could be better with its hourly forecasts. It also ought to be easier to change locations.
AccuWeather promises some of these desired features in a few months.
This app’s home screen crams a lot of useful information without clutter. That screen doesn’t give you as much detail as the others on current conditions.
Humidity, dew point and UV index are missing from the Android version, and neither version has information on visibility, sunset or sunrise. What you get instead is a graphical forecast for upcoming days – today plus five days for Android and two for the iPhone.
Touch on the forecast section for additional days and details – though you get only seven in all, the fewest of the three apps. Click on any day for written summaries of day and evening forecasts. Then click on that for hourly forecasts. Yes, nearly seven days of hourly forecasts.
WeatherBug’s radar map is OK, but not as versatile as The Weather Channel’s.
On both the iPhone and Android, weather automatically updates to your current location when you have GPS enabled.
Switching locations or adding one by city or ZIP code is relatively easy, but only the iPhone version offers suggestions as you type.
Video is limited to national forecasts.
Conclusion: I find WeatherBug to be the easiest to use of the three, and I love the extended hourly forecasts. It’s a good choice as long as you’re not looking for a lot of video and a forecast beyond seven days.