App of the day: BBC Weather review (iPhone)
You fall into one of two camps when it comes to weather. Either you hang on to the weatherman's every word, or you think he's making it up as he goes along. We fall into the latter camp, weather forecasting feels like a dark art to us, and we're sure that somewhere in the Met Office there's a group of people stand around a cauldron shouting incantations to a broth that contains John Kettley's tears and a fish called Michael.
But however the Met Office generates its forecasts, there's a big audience to hear about the resulting prophecy, and so the BBC has developed a weather app to send information on if it will be raining cats and dogs or snowing frogs. It's free, and you can get it now for the iPhone, or any other iDevice like the iPod Touch.
- iTunes Store
Of course, this being a weather app for the iPhone, it's got the style of the BBC's best thought-out apps, along with the solid foundation of iOS. From an aesthetic point of view, we really like how it looks. We've used a lot of weather apps and widgets in our time - HTC use makes that a given - and this is easily one of the nicest. It's not the most dynamic though, there's no lightning bolts like you'll see in the new iOS built-in weather app, due when iOS 7 launches in the summer.
The app is able to locate you either via Wi-Fi or 3G if you're on the iPhone. We're using an iPod Touch here, and had no problems getting it to find roughly where we are, although we'd rather it showed us in the next postcode over, because we're snobby about that sort of thing.
Of course, you're free to select pretty much any city on earth to get weather from. There's a simple search tool that lives on the main menu. Once in there, you start typing and the app will whittle down the list until you're looking at the place you want to see weather for.
On the initial screen, you can see a weather icon that represents current conditions, and there's an image in the background that mirrors that with a photograph. Swipe left, and you'll get a breakdown of temperatures and other conditions for the hours remaining in the day. There's an hourly breakdown of temperature, and anything falling from the sky.
At the bottom of the screen, you can advance through the days of the week. It's a total of five days, which should mean it's a bit more accurate than those forecasts for 12 years ahead. Or perhaps it's no more accurate, who knows.
You also get two very useful pieces of information that we don't often see in weather apps. There's information about UV strength and the pollen count. Today, both of those are "medium", and while we're not hayfever sufferers, we all need to watch out for those skin-damaging UV rays.
Dark art or not, the BBC Weather app is certainly one of the best to go for. It might not have the flashiness of some other apps, but it will tell you what you need to know very quickly and with the minimal fuss.