Review: 3 weather phone apps help you on the go

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm •  Published: December 5, 2012
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As for location, the Android version has a target icon on the home screen (it's buried in the other apps) to quickly pull up information on where you are. That button is not coming to the iPhone for another few months, so for now, the location is harder to change. Unlike the other apps I tried, AccuWeather doesn't offer suggestions as you start typing in the name of a city to switch locations. With big fingers on a small touch keyboard, I had to type "Sault Ste. Marie" in its entirety for the sister cities in Michigan and Ontario.

Like The Weather Channel, AccuWeather offers local, regional and national video. AccuWeather has special forecasts for certain types of activities — such as golfing, bicycling and lawn mowing — as well as risks for asthma, flu and migraines. However, you're just given a one-word assessment, such as "poor" or "excellent," with no clues as to why it might be a horrible day to run or ski.

Conclusion: The app could be better with its hourly forecasts. It also ought to be easier to change locations. The activities forecasts show promise, though I long for more details. AccuWeather promises some of these desired features in a few months. AccuWeather has typically been my first stop for weather information on a regular computer, but the app leaves me wanting for now — unless I'm looking for extended forecasts.

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WeatherBug

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, that means nearly seven days of hourly forecasts, not the stingy 24 hours (or less) offered by the other two.

WeatherBug's radar map is OK, but not as versatile as The Weather Channel's.

WeatherBug doesn't have a target icon on the Android version to help you quickly get weather for where you are, but it's not really needed. 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. Once you enter a city, you can narrow your choice to a specific school, airport or other weather monitoring station. WeatherBug has placed more than 10,000 of these across the country. The others offer localized weather by analyzing available data from government and private sources. From my office in New York, I can get current conditions at a nearby school rather than a Central Park station 1.6 miles farther away.

Video is limited to national forecasts, but still images from several nearby locations let you see for yourself whether it's raining. A recent update to the WeatherBug app adds such specialty forecasts as golfing, pollen and dry skin. There aren't as many choices as AccuWeather's app, but you get more details for the ones that are available.

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.

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Anick Jesdanun, deputy technology editor for The Associated Press, can be reached at njesdanun(at)ap.org.