The Dark Sky weather app at first sight isn’t any different from any of the other (free!) weather apps.
Dark Sky has quite a few features, that to me make it worth paying for it.
What’s the big whoop about a weather forecast, you might ask. There are a gazillion other apps or web-services that do the same, and you’re absolutely right about that too.
To me, it’s a question of comfort. I’d rather be paying a small amount of my hard-earned cash and save time over the long-run. So that I don’t have to set up Google alerts, or use 3-4 different websites to end up with the same result.
What makes Dark Sky so useful in my eyes, is that it comes equipped with a lot of features that other apps don’t have. Once I tell you more about these features, you’ll probably be like me: “Uhm, that makes so much sense, why don’t the other apps have that?”
Combine those features, with great prediction accuracy and you have a top-notch weather app that indeed, is worth paying for!
If you’re into things like that, you know, weather…
Let’s start by going over the functionality step-by-step, and finish it off by discussing those super-duper awesome features I just mentioned.
Weather Forecasts & Location Selection
Dark Sky has four main navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen.
The first one “Forecast”, is where you can see a nicely structured overview of any location you select.
At the top you’ll see the current temperature, optionally you can select the scales to be displayed in Celsius too.
If the location has radar coverage, it also displays the temperature and conditions for the next hour.
Scroll down to see a real-time forecast for the next 24 hours. There are filters available below the 24-hour forecast for: Temperature, Feels-Like, Precipitation (Likeliness of liquid or solid matter falling from the sky) & Wind.
You can select either of those by single tapping on the filter name, and it displays for each hour of the next 24 hours.
At the bottom you’ll find the 7-Day forecast. Each day is displayed with low-high temperatures.
Tap on a day, and it reveals the forecast by hour for that day. The same set of filters can be applied there, which makes this single menu screen already extremely handy in getting a quick overlook over the whole week.
Select Up To 6 Locations
At the top of the “Forecast” menu, you can tap the magnifying glass once to bring up the location menu.
Search for any location world-wide, and select from the suggestions that pop up.
You can save up to 6 locations, so you can easily access them any time from this menu. This is very handy if you commute to work in a different city, or have to fly to different company offices on a regular basis.
But even for irregular use, like for example when you go on holidays this is a very nice to have feature.
Once you’ve saved more than one location, you don’t need to go back to the location selection menu every time you want to check the forecast. You can simply use your thumb to gently swipe to the right or left, and each of your saved locations will be revealed.
The Globe Weather Overlay
This menu, in a Google Earth-like fashion, displays the globe with a weather overlay.
Your current location is highlighted by a small black pin.
You can then zoom in or zoom out, as close as a cities boundaries, to get a good look at the weather overlay.
Below the Globe, you’ll find a timeline with a small “Play” button. Press “Play” and you’ll see the an animation of the weather overlay according to the forecasted conditions.
This is a very useful feature, especially for those areas that are often plagued by huge storms.
Simply zoom in, as far as you can, and see the weather overlay over the location where you live, or where you know you’ll be over the week.
Customized Weather Notifications & Alerts
When opening Dark Sky for the first time, you’ll be seeing a few confirmation pop-ups, asking if it’s okay for the app to send you notifications and also do that while you’re not using the app.
I would answer “Yes” to all those, as you will need to give those permissions to receive customized weather notifications and alerts. If you don’t want that, just decline.
The Notifications menu, is also what I was talking about in the beginning of this review.
The way the developer implemented this, is just so extremely useful and made me realize what many Weather apps are really missing.
There are a couple of ready-made notifications that you can enable or disable. Depending on what you find useful for your daily life.
- Next Hour Precipitation:
- You’ll be alerted (down to the minute!), when precipitation starts at your exact location. (The location where you physically are at that moment).You can even select to only receive alerts for specific types of precipitation. So for example, no alerts for super light rain please…
- Daily Summary:
- Receive the daily forecast at a time of your choosing, for example 7:30am shortly before you leave the house.
- Severe Weather Alerts:
- This category is Government-Issued severe weather warnings and alerts. Receive alerts as they happen, absolutely necessary!
- Umbrella Reminder:
- Set up a custom alert if the likeliness of precipitation for the current day / night rises over XY%.
- Sunscreen Reminder:
- Receive alerts whenever the UV index at your current location rises above XY (by default 9).
And then there are “Custom Notifications”. You can set up completely custom notifications for things like temperature rise / fall, Wind, Humidity and much more. Very detailed scales and everything can selectively be send out only on certain times of day, or whenever it happens.
These Notifications are really ingenious, and also very, very accurate.
Those are not gimmicky in any way, but extremely accurate Notifications that can help keep your family safe (Severe Weather Alerts), remind you daily to not forget your umbrella (again) and so forth.
This feature alone, to me, justified paying for it.
Weather Forecast Accuracy
What good are notifications and all the features in the world, if the accuracy of the predictions is off?
But I can say after I downloaded Dark Sky, and used it for a while now that it really is extremely accurate.
I’m traveling between a couple locations in Europe on a very regular basis, and so far it has always been spot on. Friends who use this app across the ocean, in the US, are also very happy with it.
Not just the accuracy of Weather forecasts is commendable, but notifications as well. I’ve been reminded a couple of times now that it will start to rain soon, and literally a minute later the first few drops were falling.
I’ve read the term “creepy accurate” on a few other sites, and had the same thought. It’s like you have a little weather detecting rooster sitting on your shoulder.
I think you probably already know my answer…
Is Dark Sky worth the current price of $3.99 on iTunes?
Oh, you bet it is! It’s, in my humblest of opinions, the very best weather app out there. I wouldn’t touch WunderGround with a ten foot pole after downloading Dark Sky.
And right now, Dark Sky is even available for free on Google Play, so go ahead and download Dark Sky, I would be very surprised if you didn’t like it.