WeatherPro for iPad review: Can an app really tell you what the weather will be like?
We've been talking a look at WeatherPro for iPad, the £2.99 app from MeteoGroup. There's also an iPhone version of the app, which is £2.49. For an additional £3.99 you can upgrade to a premium version for 12 months (or three months for £1.49). From the start we're a little put of by the idea of a subscription model although it gives you access to the premium version of MeteoGroup's other apps, namely MeteoEarth for iPad and the iPhone version of WeatherPro. You'll still have to pay the upfront cost for these apps though.
Setting up WeatherPro
We started off with the standard version of WeatherPro for iPad. The good news is that the app is centigrade by default. The bad news is that it starts off thinking we're in Berlin – how difficult would it be to make it default to your current location? Actually, it's pretty difficult as it need confirmation that you will allow it to use location services before it can do so.
We set about figuring out how to change the location to London. You click the search icon and enter a location. Find the location you want in the list that appears and tap the Star icon and add it to your default list
Click the edit button and you can delete locations you don't want – you'll have Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels by default.
We search for Croydon and Camden, in the case of Croydon, Croydon England was top of the list. In the case of Camden it was buried under a list of US towns. It's not possible to search for postcodes.
You can also tap the location finder to search your current location. You'll have to approve the app being able to get your location data.
When we searched via the location finder it gave us London as an option, we've seen other apps giving us a more precise location in London such as St Pancras. Unfortunately WeatherPro doesn't recognise St Pancras as a location in the UK.
From this screen you can share basic weather forecasts via text message, Mail, Twitter or Facebook. All you share is some basic text, this seems an unfortunate omission as you would expect to share a screen grab of the page, rather than bland text such as: "11/03/2013 16:00 Biggin Hill (Westerham): mostly cloudy, snow showers -2°C. Wind:NE/26 km/h. Rain:
What does the app tell you
You get an eight-day forecast that includes weather types: e.g. 'Cloudy, snow shower', 'Sunny Intervals', 'Sunny spells', 'Cloudy, heavy sleet'.
Temperature is shown on a graph, although it's not really clear what the four different lines represent. Is one the average temperature for the time of year?
Rainfall is also shown on a graph, with an indication of when the most rain is likely to fall. The app suggested that we'd see just over 1mm of rain after 4pm on Friday. Sunshine is represented in a similar fashion, and Friday looked like it wouldn't be a particularly sunny day. As for wind, Monday and Tuesday look to be the windiest days.
We weren't clear about what hPa represented and below that a confusing icon with a % sign and what looked like rainfall also had us baffled. However, when we tapped at the hPA dial shown at the top of the screen it revealed that it was Pressure and on that basis we presume that the other mysterious icon is Humidity. We later realised that by tapping the i icon we would see an overlay explaining what all the lines and icons represented. In the case of the four lines on the temperature chart these were Maximum, Minimum, Feels like, and Hourly temperatures.
You can also see alerts, in our case we had a High wind speed alert from Monday evening until midday Tuesday, and a Low temperature alert around the same time. You can also choose to sort the order of these features.
As well as Weather, there are tabs for Radar, Satellite, Maps, Settings and More.
Radar includes a video that covers two and a quarter hours and shows what we imagine to be cloud moving over the UK. You can choose to hide the few town names that are shown if you tap the diamond icon on the top right.
The Satellite also shows two and a quarter hours worth of video. The Maps tab displays a worldwide weather overview. You can tap a city name to activate a weather symbol and temperature, tap it again to hide the details. Unfortunately only major cities, London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow are shown by default. You can pinch-to-zoom in on the map to see other countries, but again, only major cities are covered.
Tapping the Setting tab reveals a run down of the release notes, then clicking the Setting tab at the top left of that page reveals Weather Help to give you some guidance as to what the symbols mean and information such as how the 'feels like' temperature is calculated.
Under More you'll find various news reports such as a round up of the worst March weather on record. There are also video forecasts here, but they are only for Pro subscribers.
The 'Regions' tab is greyed out in the standard version of the app and various additional tools are also only available to pro subscribers.
More information is available in WeatherPro Premium, which costs £3.99 for a 12-month subscription or £1.49 for three months. This includes Precipitation type radar, and high-resolution satellite images, along with worldwide clouds and rain forecasts, temperature and air pressure maps, and 14-day forecasts. WeatherPro Premium also includes more layers of information for Maps. For example, the Precipitation type radar can show you the type of precipitation, with rain in blue tones, sleet in yellow and snow in white.
How does WeatherPro compare to other weather apps?
The free version of AccuWeather (£1.49 for a 'Platinum' version) has the advantage of being able to tell us the weather forecast for Saint Pancras in London (our location during testing), which WeatherPro was unable to locate.
We compared the two. The free version of AccuWeather has forecasts up to fifteen days ahead, compared to the 8-day forecasts of WeatherPro or the 14-day forecasts of WeatherPro Premium both of which are paid for apps.
AccuWeather suggested a high of 1-degree and a low of -3 for Monday, compared to WeatherPro's low of -1 and high of 1. On a day when it snowed AccuWeather was able to tell us to expect 40.64mm snow in Camden, while WeatherPro had no snow knowledge.
AccuWeather has weather clearly broken down by hour, so it's easy to swipe to see whether it will be raining at home time. While WeatherPro also has this information, it's broken down into three-hour time frames, as opposed to AccuWeather that shows it by hour. The only way to get an hourly guide is to upgrade to the premium version. So where it looked like there might be a sprinkling of snow between 3 and 6pm according to WeatherPro, AccuWeather showed us that the snow would be coming at 6pm (6.35mm of the stuff). The premium version of WeatherPro showed snow at 4, 5, and 6pm.
It's tricky to judge accuracy as we don't have the necessary equipment. But in our basic testing WeatherPro did appear to be telling us that it was snowing when it wasn't.
One area where WeatherPro is better is the fact that it can give you a break down of weather in three-hour blocks for future days, where AccuWeather can only do this for a 24-hour period. This can make planning easier, but there is some doubt as to whether any weather app is really able to make such precise predictions so far ahead in the future.
We like the fact that WeatherPro made us feel like weather forecasters, we were handed all the information and from that we were able to draw our own forecast. Other apps tell you hour by hour what the weather is expected to be like, with WeatherPro this information is secondary to the charts and graphs which are less obvious, but make you feel like you are being given the raw data to analyse rather than have it conveyed in simple terms. This gives us the feeling that this will be a more accurate weather forecast. Whether it actually is remains to be seen.
Our main issue with the app is the fact that there is no free version. There are many good, free weather apps on the App Store so this app has a lot of competition.
We like the fact that WeatherPro made us feel like weather forecasters, we were handed all the information and from that we were able to draw our own forecast. Other apps tell you hour by hour what the weather is expected to be like, with WeatherPro this information is secondary to the charts and graphs which are less obvious, but make you feel like you are being given the raw data to analyse rather than have it conveyed in simple terms. This gives us the feeling that this will be a more accurate weather forecast. Whether it actually is remains to be seen. Our main issue with the app is the fact that there is no free version. There are many good, free weather apps on the App Store so this app has a lot of competition.