Weather apps are an essential part of my daily workflow: I check the weather on my phone every day to help determine what I’ll wear and where I’ll go. If you're like me and looking for more than just your basic temperature and upcoming forecast, there is a wealth of great weather apps out there. In addition to offering things like pinpoint location accuracy, animated radar maps, and detailed minute-by-minute forecasts, today's weather apps are the playground for cutting-edge app design. (Apple even awarded Yahoo Weather its prestigious design award in 2013.) Weather seems like a pretty mundane topic, so it may come as a surprise to some that the best weather apps are fun to play with and pretty to look at.
You can spend days — and a lot of money — looking for the best weather app for your iPhone. We’ve done the hard work, testing out dozens of weather apps, and have found the best weather apps that are both fun to use and functional. It’s okay to love a weather app, just make sure your heart is devoted to one of these.
On Android? Check out our picks for the best weather apps for Android!
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The best paid app
Dark Sky is the best paid weather app for iOS. It offers a scarily accurate minute-by-minute predictions for precipitation, and pushes alerts right to the front of your phone. A typical push notification from Dark Sky might say "Light Rain starting in 12 minutes," which means you have exactly 12 minutes to find cover or grab an umbrella if you want to stay dry.
With Dark Sky, you know exactly when it is going to rain, how hard that rain will be, and how long it will last. The app also has 24 hour and full-week forecasts, as well as animated maps for precipitation and temperature. The interface is simple and attractive, as cool a weather app as you’ll find anywhere.
Dark Sky costs a few dollars more than the average weather app, but it does work on both the iPhone and iPad. And its longer-term forecasts make Dark Sky a complete enough app that it easily functions as the only weather predictor you need. But it earns its price with those short-term predictions, which feel like magic the first time you get them. Once you get that first notification that it’s going to rain in 12 minutes and you get inside just before the downpour, you’ll be thankful you spent the money.
The best free option
For those looking for a free forecast, Yahoo Weather is the best free option on iOS. It’s one of the prettiest weather apps ever created — and it very clearly inspired Apple’s own default app for iOS 7. Where the built-in app will tell you the current temperature and a basic short term forecast, Yahoo Weather includes advanced data such as wind speed, barometric pressure, and sunrise and sunset times. And it does it all in an attractive, easy to read manner that doesn’t bombard you with confusing numbers and metrics.
Yahoo Weather presents the current weather conditions with images pulled from Flickr, and gives you everything you need in one, vertical scrolling column. It has hourly forecasts, five or ten-day forecasts, and detailed meteorological information for the current conditions. The iPhone version even has animated weather apps, but it lacks alerts for severe weather conditions. It’s not nearly as powerful as Dark Sky, but it’s a great way to quickly find the basic information you’ll need for the day.
The Weather Channel is the first source many people think of when looking for reliable weather information, and its iPhone app is unsurprisingly popular. It recently received a design overhaul and has a ton of features, such as live radar maps and the ability to report the weather conditions in your area. But it has ads you can’t even pay to remove, and its interface isn’t the easiest to navigate and it doesn’t have the scary-intelligent alerts of Dark Sky.
Today Weather is a premium app that puts your current conditions and a short-term forecast front and center when you open it. A swipe to the right shows hour-by-hour forecasts, while a swipe left displays weather for the coming week. Today Weather also uses Dark Sky’s database (via an in-app purchase) for more accurate short-term forecasts, but it doesn’t have the automatic alerts found in Dark Sky’s own app. It’s like a light version of Dark Sky, but you should just go for the real thing.
WeatherUnderground’s claim to fame is its 40,000 professional and amateur stations; no matter where you are, it should be able to give you an exact forecast for your precise location. It also has radar maps, crowd-sourced reports, and even air quality conditions. This wealth of information can be a bit more difficult to parse, however, and WeatherUnderground isn’t as easy to navigate as Dark Sky or Yahoo Weather. There are banner ads on almost every screen, too, but you can remove those with a yearly in-app purchase.
Perfect Weather puts a radar map front and center when you open the app, so it’s easy to see moving storms in your area. It also uses a stacked card design similar to Apple’s Passbook app to show conditions for various locations. It’s definitely one of the prettier apps out there, but it doesn’t have the super-smart predictive capabilities of Dark Sky.
WeatherBug has been around forever — it was one of the first desktop helper apps that put the current temperature in the system tray of your PC. Its iPhone app is fully-featured, but it doesn’t have as nice of a design as Dark Sky or Yahoo Weather. You can tune in to weather cams stationed around the country to get a real-world look at current weather conditions in a specific area, which is a neat trick. The basic app comes with banner ads, but you can remove them with a yearly in-app purchase.
WeatherLine is another well-designed app that does the basics really well and nothing more. Tracking the changing weather over the course of a day or week is really easy with WeatherLine, but it doesn’t have radar maps or push alerts for severe conditions. On the bright side, it uses the same data as Dark Sky for its short-term forecasts.
If you were to ask a meteorologist which weather app they preferred on their iPhone, chances are they’ll point you to RadarScope. RadarScope provides a wealth of radar and in-depth prediction information, but it can be overwhelming and hard to parse when you just want to know the current temperature outside. It’s also considerably more expensive than most of the other weather apps in the field. This one is definitely pros only.
Solar burst on to the weather app scene with a super simple, super clean and colorful design that shows you the current temperature and conditions. You can swipe up and hold your thumb on the screen to see what the temperature will be like later in the day. It’s a fun app to use, but it lacks a lot of advanced features, such as radar, long-term forecasts, or severe weather alerts.