APP OF THE DAY: UK Snow Map (#uksnow) review (iPhone/iPod touch)
The UK is obsessed with snow. It's something we rarely have, but when it arrives, it certainly stirs things up. It only seems to take a flutter for schools to close, trains to stop running and people to start panic buying tins of corned beef.
Since 2009, #UKSnow has been keeping track of the snowfall in the UK. It's the brainchild of Ben Marsh, a web developer from Leicester, which essentially crowdsources information from Twitter to collate into an interactive map. Well, this is 2013, and now there's an app for that. And yes, that's a Photoshopped image above, because we're still awaiting the snow...
UK Snow Map
As soon as there is a suggestion of snow, #UKSnow will roll out across Twitter, an easy way to keep track of where it's actually snowing in the United Kingdom, rather than having to rely on general regional weather reports.
This crowdsourcing approach means you can actively play your part, reporting snowfall in your area, which feeds through to the bigger picture. The Met Office might have radar maps with bands of sweeping clouds, but Twitter, through #UKSnow, has thousands of eyewitnesses reporting the snow as it falls.
The app is a simple affair, but that's entirely fitting as this is a simple concept. It's divided into two main sections: the map and the tweets that have contributed to the information on the map.
The map itself can have a couple of different styles, but importantly, you can zoom in and out - or pinpoint your location - to see what's going on around you. As you zoom in, you can see where the #uksnow tweets have come from, as well as view the extent of the snow from the density of the displayed icon.
You can also click on the snow icons to see who reported the snow conditions. It will pop open the tweet, with a link to view in Twitter, as well as the ability of view attached photos, so you can see for yourself.
Moving over to the Tweets tab, you can view a straight list of tweets as they come in, using the #uksnow hashtag. Basically it combines the elements you'll find on the website at uksnowmap.com into a simple app.
Of course, a #UKSnow app is useless without the ability to report the snow yourself. There's a top bar throughout the app that lets you do this, with a button on the right-hand side. Press this and a tweet will pop-up with the #uksnow already in place, so all you have to do is add the intensity (out of 10, with being 0/10 no snow, 10/10 a blizzard) and the location, either by giving the town, first part of the postcode (eg, SW15) or geotagging the tweet.
As we said, it's a simple app, but if you want to keep up with the UK snow map that #UKSnow creates then it's a great way to do it. It does cost 69p, but then #uksnow has become something of a Twitter institution in the UK so we're happy to pay.
It would be nice if you could submit photos through the app too, but then you could just use your Twitter app.