Review: the weather channel’s slick new (and free) iphone app – Bonded NdFeB Magnets

Cracks about meteorological accuracy aside, I’ve morphed intomy family’s weatherman in recent years — partly becauseI’m the only one with a smartphone, partly because I’mobsessed with severe weather-watching. My wife has the requisiteweather Dashboard widgets on her MacBook Air and knows as well as Ido how to find weather forecasts from half-a-dozen online forecastsites, but for whatever reason, she likes to ask me what theday’s prospects are, weather-wise. For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve answered her using The Weather Channel’s iPhone app . I started with the basic freebie version, then opted for the$3.99 version to scrub the ads. I’ve been using that, alongwith Shuksan Software’s NOAA Radar US (it has a better high-res radar/map display) when I want to knowwhat to expect.

The forecasts are as accurate as you’ve cometo expect from weather stations that slap storm icons over 10-dayreadouts whether the chance of precipitation is 30% or 60%. Ican’t vouch for TWC’s accuracy over anyone else’s— the cable/satellite network predicted storms last weekendthrough today, and all I saw where I’m vacationing insoutheast Florida was sun until last night, but then I use the TWC app more forgeneral information, e.g. humidity, sunrise/sunset, the radar mapsand severe weather alerts. ( MORE: The Mobile Web: Dead or On Hiatus? ) The Weather Channel just overhauled its TWC app for the iPhone,describing it as “the first major redesign since [the TWCweather app’s] initial launch in 2008.” It basically wrapsthe same underlying information in a cleaned up interface.

Launchit and you’re greeted by a picturesque shot of a cloud-filledblue sky that yields to an interface tutorial. The new defaultlayout — the weather tab’s “now” view— positions the locales and temperatures center-screen inlarge font with a drop-down option to view details like wind speed,UV index, visibility, etc. You can now swipe instead of tappingbetween locations, and the new background wallpaper images shift toreflect the weather outside in realtime: The “mostlycloudy” image I’m looking at for Orlando, Florida thismorning is a snapshot of what looks like stratus and cumulus cloudshovering in a deep blue sky. It’s a dramatic improvement overthe previous version’s dismal solid black background. Neodymium Disk Magnet

If you want to add a locale, a “search” magnifyingglass icon replaces the prior version’s open search box,occupying the interface’s upper-right-hand corner alongside a”settings” icon — now accessible from all screens— that lets you tweak favorites, alert notifications, yourhome location and social networking login info. Social networking huh? Yep, the app now supports services like Facebook and iWitness (in addition to Twitter, which it already did) if youwant to snap images of weather or whatever else and share withfriends (they’ve added a built-in camera button on theapp’s homepage). TWC notes that it “may even share yourweather photos on The Weather Channel or weather.com,” thoughno, there’s no prize for stupidly chasing down a killer shotof a tornado. Also improved: Instead of swiping through eight bottom-menu tabs(four to a page), TWC’s managed to jam everything into justfive tabs, all of them visible at once. The idea was clearly to geta similar amount of information onto one page while improving theway it’s displayed. Bonded NdFeB Magnets

The only downside: The banner ads that occupy the top eighth orninth of the screen, and the lack, at least at launch, of anad-free alternative version. I’ve been checking all morning,and TWC’s ad-free version, dubbed TWCMax, is still showing asthe older 4.2 version, last updated on Jan. 24, 2012. ToTWC’s credit, the ads in the updated version don’tflash or scroll or otherwise draw your attention, though the brightred Lexus ones I’ve been seeing clash, color-scheme-wise,with the current powder-blue sky/clouds background. Sintered SmCo Magnets Manufacturer

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