Ever since smartphones have been around, there have been weather apps to go along with them. In fact, no matter how small of a platform or how few apps there available to it, there's a good chance that you can find a weather app for it. Though some may argue that you don't need anything beyond what's available on your phone out of the box, such as iOS's Weather and Android's Google Now (or the age old argument of "look out the window"), weather apps remain popular and there seems to be a new one popping up every other day. Haze, a fun and stylish new weather app hitting the iTunes App Store today, is the latest take on delivering your weather conditions to the palm of your hand.
Haze can be grouped into a new wave of apps that feature modern, simplistic designs and eschew chrome and on-screen buttons for gesture-based controls. Similar in appearance to Solar, another minimalistic, modern weather app we covered last year, Haze features a warm color palette and slick typography to tell you the current temperature and weather conditions. Where Haze goes beyond Solar and other, similar apps is in its use of animations and sounds to inform you, instead of the more traditional icons and text we see in most weather apps.
When you first open the app, and once you're past the usual prompts to provide Haze with access to your location data, you are presented with the current temperature in an orb that is more or less 'floating' on the screen. At the bottom are three icons for accessing the main panels of the app, which display temperature, amount of sunlight (measured in hours) during the day, and chance of precipitation (measured in percent). Swiping between the panels will alter what you see in and the position of the main orb in the middle of the screen, depending on which panel you land on. On top of that, you can tap the orb to bring up more info related to each view — tapping the current temperature will display five more bubbles with the predicted highs and lows, the "feel," and the wind speed and direction (Haze uses the iPhone's compass to display exactly which direction the wind is blowing). Pulling down on the panel itself brings up a five-day forecast, while dragging up displays how long ago the weather information was updated.
Animations and sounds replace traditional icons and text
The most unique aspect of Haze's presentation is found in the backgrounds of each panel. Instead of a static gradient, each panel is animated, with a current-like pulse that flows either up or down the screen. This is designed to indicate tomorrow's conditions: if the flow of the current is up the screen on the temperature panel, that means it will be warmer tomorrow. Likewise, if the precipitation panel is flowing down the screen, there is less of a chance that you will see rain or snow the next day. It's a novel concept that we haven't seen utilized before, but it's a bit too subtle and not the easiest thing to grasp when you are quickly looking at the app to see if you will need to bring a jacket and umbrella to work tomorrow.
Other niceties (or annoyances, depending on your opinion) sprinkled throughout Haze are the various animations you see and sounds you hear when changing modes within the app (clearly Robocat, the developer of Haze, took more than just a little inspiration from the Clear to-do app, the granddaddy of these minimalistic, zero-chrome apps). There is a settings menu accessible by dragging all the way down the screen, which gives you options for sounds, temperature units, social sharing features, enabling the accelerometer-based tilt controls (these are still called "experimental" by the developer for a reason and don't work all that well in their current state), and more. There's also a section where you can change the theme of the app, which switches the colors used in the various panels. By default, you have access to a couple of themes, but you can unlock up to eight total by doing various actions such as sharing your conditions with friends or using the app after midnight. Below the settings panel are display various weather-related facts — another feature reminiscent of Clear and the quotes it displays when you complete your to-do list.
Haze won't satisfy the weather nerds
But even though Haze haze lots of fun animations and pretty design, it lacks a number of features that many people have come to expect in weather apps these days. It doesn't have Dark Sky's scarily-accurate precipitation warnings, nor does it have a way to view Doppler radar. There is no option to view hourly forecasts, and you don't have anything more than the five-day forecast for longer term planning. You also can't view the weather conditions for somewhere other than your current location, which seems like an odd oversight. For its part, Robocat claims that during its research for developing the app, user studies determined that the level of information provided by the app was what most users were looking for. Needless to say, however, Haze won't satisfy the most data hungry weather nerds or the obsessive temperature watchers.
What Haze does do is present weather information — a mundane data point that affects us every day — in a pretty to look at and fun to use form. I found myself just opening the app and swiping through the screens repeatedly to just see the animations and hear the sounds — effectively making checking the weather a game I could play. Whether or not that's what you're looking for in your weather app is up to you, but I don't think I'll be deleting Haze from my home screen anytime soon. Haze is available in the iTunes App Store now for $0.99, though that price is expected to go up to $2.99 at some point in the future.