App Review: Forecast Weather Widget v2 (it’s the best)

If your goal is quick, accurate weather information on your Android phone, stop hunting through Market.  Weather Forecast Widget v2 is the most solidly developed, reliable, complete, and most customizable weather widget available.  Its reliability and customizability are well worth the €.99 to unlock all the features in the donate version.

I’m a bit a of a weather fiend.  Living in Minnesota… well, let’s just say the jokes aren’t funny any more, especially if the forecast information I got was not quite right.  I also have to dress two people (1 regular, 1 mini, in layers), both of whom believe efficiency involves squeezing three more minutes of sleep into the schedule (repeat until crisis mode).  It has been well worth my time to cull through the available venues to get fast, accurate weather, and apps that won’t slow down my phone, since by this time I have created a situation in which I need to check traffic and call three people, likely from the car.

Weather Forecast Widget is based on open source Forecast Widget (Jeff Sharkey), which takes forecast information from the US National Weather Service, and has added a Google Weather feed for current weather conditions and international use.  I have found these two services, along with iMap Weather to be the most accurate.  Since I tend to cross-check forecasts between services, I like that the link in the forecast window, when clicking on the widget, points to Wunderground (as accurate as Google) customized to your location. It’s a quirky little feature to point to a site that isn’t the feed source, and the site is slow, but the site provides an hourly breakdown of the entire week, and provides everything from tide cycles to wind speeds from thousands of weather stations.

The customization options rival those of long-established apps from other platforms.  There are several skins available, and submitting a skin is fairly easy for skinners or developers, so there are lots of graphics available.  Here are just a couple of examples of how it can look:

Wx_3screen

Another unique feature I adore is multiple instances, each with custom locations and skins, and a choice of the two services for each instance. (Around here it could be snowing like like a skier’s dream at home, and clear as freshly cleaned glass 20 miles away at school.)

Wx1x1

The forecast view is visible when the widget is tapped. Tap a day to get crazy-detail at Wunderground.com, with your day and location specified. It also has buttons to edit the widget setup and a manual refresh.

WxForecast

Setup is very straightforward, and all on one scrollable screen.

setup

You’ll need to set up each instance of the widget every time you place it.  With the ability to run simultaneous instances, the saving of widget data is fairly complex, and retrieving it for a new instance is probably pretty unreliable.  I’m willing to put up with this since I know this developer won’t implement anything he believes to be remotely unreliable.

Skinning sits on a silver spoon, and there are lots of fun combinations to try to see what works best for you, or with which to play when your fav game is too loud for the line in which you’re waiting.

skinning

It does add quite a list to your widgets; one for each widget size.  You can reduce this list and shut down sizes you won’t use (or any widget addition that you won’t use but comes in an otherwise great package) with Autostarts (for rooted phones).  It has an allowance for update issues, but I’ve found uninstalling and reinstalling addresses that as well.  I haven’t had any update problems with a reliable, up-to-date ROM.  No app is perfect, but I chose this one for my first review because it’s as close as I’ve found, in or out Market, so far.

(Yes, this is my first review.  Please feel free to regale me with kudos, applause, x’s and o’s (I hear 22% of men use them in sms to each other, so why not me?), or, if you must, gently let me know if there’s a bit of info you wanted that I missed.)

Summary:

Relaibilty: 5 stars

Useability: 4.5 stars (-.5 for having to reset each implementation of each instance)

Customization: 4 stars (I’m extra fussy on this, most apps don’t get any stars at all from me)

Feature/simplicity balance: 5 stars

Ongoing memory use: <15 KB to 1mb for 4×4 plus calendar.  Depends on skins and number of instances.

Size on disk: 397KB

Good compliment apps: iMap weather (free); Autostarts

Other apps by Francois Deslandes

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  • http://phandroid.com Talton "Phases" Pettigrew

    Great writeup, Janiskfp – and also exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks!!

  • Drew

    Love that you are from MN! I am too, and weather is an ALWAYS important part of our lives here, ya, ya betcha! :P

    I’m ditching my Tour this week and getting the DROID so I’m happy to see a review of a good weather app!

  • Kappy79

    Nice review, good details and nice screens. I will probably check that out.

  • Pablo

    I am impressed! VERY customizable, very good even in its free version!!

    The only thing I am missing which is present in weather channel, is the by-hour forecast for the day

    thanks for the news

  • Maj

    This is definitely the best weather widget out there but the main drawback is the lack of skins (yes lack of skins again), most skins are ugly or very low resolution, im using widget 2×2 and for example the “foggy” icon is pixelated in some of the skins (can’t remember it’s name) but still it’s more accurate than any other weather widget (by the way, this is an international user)

  • David

    How do i unlock the widgets?

  • Droid Ninja

    Very good writeup. I ditched Weather Channel App for this one.

    Queston – Anyone know how Francois Deslandes’s Calendar Widget is? The weather one is so good I am thinking about the calendar one.

  • Janiskfp

    @Droid Ninja: The calendar widget is equally good and customizable (most of the same backgrounds). I use it, too.

    @ David: Hm… I haven’t used the free version for some time, but I think the rest of the widget sizes are in the “donate” version. (Just install, long-press on your Home screen, select widgets and scroll pretty much to the bottom; they’re listed under “weather.”)

    @Pablo: I like this widget in particular because it does what it does very well, and doesn’t try to do more. I like more detail, too, but I use links and my browser to really dig in. I think the developer built in a link to Wunderground, for the hour-by-hour on that site. The detail is fanatical, but the (lack of mobile) layout for hour-by-hour, well, frankly, sucks.

    And thanks for the compliments!

  • Brett

    it actually freezes my phone constantly. and gives errors

  • mikeeeee

    looks really cool.

    i’m curious though, does it put up radar in conjunction with google maps and GPS showing precip like weather.com does?

    does it have a screen that shows the freeze line?

    i drove up and down tornado alley 3 times a week for 8 years between st. louis and st. paul and really could have used this technology then.

    my g-1 did really well in the summer (google maps plus GPS and weather.com) showing where the thunderboomers were and really good for snow last winter using it in conjunction with ‘tell me’ weather over the phone.

    i would dump all of that stuff out and drop it like 3rd period french if WUNDERGROUND came out with an android app like they have for the i-phone.

  • Janiskfp

    @Brett: the developer has been incredibly responsive. I’m sure if you sent him a log (try Log Collector) he’d either have a solution or a good reason he can’t solve it quickly within an hour or three.

    @mikeeeee: Nope. It’s not a weather-junky app. It’s just the front end of a forecast, plus links of you want more info. Nothing to gunk up the works. It’s not a feature-driven app, it does what it does very well (I think the best of it’s purpose), but nothing more. It’s solid. It’ll update your position as you specify in the setup. It’s a fast, accurate widget for getting you out the door quickly, appropriately dressed, and won’t contrbute to the morning crankies by not working. And you can make it easy to see with groggy eyes.

  • Janiskfp

    @mikeeeee: iMap weather app does the mapping thing, and it’s clean and fast, too. It also does real-time location updating. I prefer its source accuracy to Weather.com as well, but I do realize people can come to different conclusions on that one depending on the weather they have (different services seem to track different kinds of weather differently.)

  • john

    Are ALL apps, such as this one, compatible with HTC Sense?

  • http://twitter.com/amaroth Bret

    I bought this widget and I cant get it to NOT SAY “LATROBE”

  • Ryan

    I prefer Weather Widgets, its got a much better looking interface (similar to HTC Sense UI).

  • Ray

    So how do I unlock this thing?

  • http://www.af2.com/ Charissa Altidor

    This weblog appears to recieve a good ammount of visitors. How do you get traffic to it? It gives a nice individual spin on things. I guess having something real or substantial to give info on is the most important thing.