Today, the clouds have parted for Android fans. Dark Sky, the weather app with a cult-like following, is finally available in the Google Play Store.
Dark Sky (the app and company share the same name) prides itself on precise precipitation notifications for your time and location — like "Drizzle stopping!" — and iOS users have been enjoying its concerned-parent-like updates for four years. But a Dark Sky Android app has long been on the company’s to-do list, and last year when it partnered with Applied Invention, Dark Sky got more resources and the Android developer muscle to make this a reality.
If you’ve used Dark Sky on iOS, the Android app will be really familiar — almost too familiar; it would’ve been nice to see a little more variety here. A few differences of note:
It’s free, but you’ll want to pay for it
Unlike Dark Sky for iOS, which can’t be used unless you pay $3.99, Dark Sky for Android is available in a free version. But, as expected, the free Dark Sky works more like a conventional weather app and lacks the notifications and next-hour forecasts that Dark Sky users show off to friends. If you start with the free app, you can pay for an in-app upgrade to Dark Sky Premium; this is an annual subscription of $2.99 rather than a one-time payment. Premium gives you the stuff people like most about Dark Sky, including to-the-minute notifications, daily summaries, and Android-friendly widgets for your home screen (more on those below). If you’re not sure you want Premium, you can test it for free in a two-week trial — something Apple’s App Store won’t allow.
Widgets, of course
We’re on Android here, so Dark Sky had to build in some widgets for quick, at-a-glance views of the app from the home screen. There are three of these: one shows weather today, one shows the hourly forecast, and one shows a five-day forecast. My favorite widget is the hourly forecast, which shows a graph of how much rain I’d be getting (a lot) in the next hour.
Along with the Google font and the use of the back button, Dark Sky on Android puts its five sections in one bar at the bottom of the screen: Today, Week, Map, Alerts, and Report. On iOS, you swipe left or right from the Today home screen to see Map and Week. All of the notification options remain the same on Android and iOS, so you can still opt in to see a daily summary notification at 7AM. Also, you can still add custom alerts, like if humidity will be above 50 percent at any time during the day.
Dark Sky’s co-founder, Adam Grossman says that 80 percent of people using Dark Sky have notifications turned on, and I believe it. Knowing it’s about to start hailing a few minutes before the hail starts can be a really good thing.
Before the end of this year, Dark Sky plans to release new features it has been working on since it partnered with Applied Invention, Grossman says. Meanwhile, Dark Sky’s weather data is available for sale to other iOS and Android developers — like Weather Timeline, Arcus, Forecast, and Carrot — and this is an increasingly important revenue stream for the company. "Are we worried that we’re empowering competitors?" Grossman says. "Nope! If anything it keeps us on our toes."