Review: Contrast Perfect Weather
Living in central Indiana, we see crazy weather on a regular basis—a five day forecast can run the gamut of temperatures and conditions, feeling like you’ve experienced all four seasons. This had led to an obsession with finding the best weather app. Apple’s built-in weather app provides great information with a beautiful interface, but finding a good replacement is hard. Contrast hopes to fill this role with Perfect Weather, a $3 iPhone-only app that hopes to offer you everything you need.
Contrast’s David Barnard lives in Austin, Texas, which features slightly warmer, but just as crazy weather as my locale. Wanting more information, especially quick access to radar, his company set out to build a weather app that they’d want to use. Designed with a very flat, minimalist, but useful interface, the app was available the day before iOS 7. Others were struggling to catch up aesthetically, but Contrast seemed to have had perfect timing.
The app is designed around a layered approach—each favorite location (up to five) and the current location are on sliding cards, in the style of Passbook. When a particular card is selected, it takes over the whole screen. A bar across the top will show an icon for any active severe weather alerts, the location name, current conditions, and current temperature.
The section below the bar is also based around two layers: data and imagery. The back layer features either radar or satellite imagery, complete with the ability to show a time lapse. Other than that, it works much like any other Apple Maps-based interface would for zooming and panning.
The data layer works much like pleated blinds: more information can be revealed by unfolding this layer downward. The first state shows nothing. The second shows the current condition, high, low, and chance of precipitation. The next shows a six-day forecast with highs, lows, and chances of precipitation. The third expands between the prior two and shows a temperature graph for the next 24 hours. Dragging your finger along this graph will show you a prediction of conditions at that particular time for further detail. Finally swiping this panel to the left reveals more data, including the “Feels Like” temperature, humidity, pressure, visibility, wind, sunrise, sunset, and dew point.
It’s a nice mix of a clean interface and a lot of information. Furthermore, this design allows you to show a lot initially, or just a bit, but always keeps the radar at close glance. The only settings for the app are the ability to switch to Celsius and to show the temperature as a notification badge on the icon.
A hidden little gem in the app is the ability to generate an animated GIF of your radar, making it easy to email, text, or save the current weather conditions to your Camera Roll.
My all-time favorite weather app was My-Cast, although it feels like abandonware at this point—no updates in almost three years. Perfect Weather does a rather good job of covering all the features in a more modern design. I’d love to see the ability to get severe weather push notifications, and maybe severe weather watch box imagery, but that is nitpicking a bit. An iPad version would be nice, too. I’m told push notifications and iPad version are being mulled over.
When compared to competing weather apps, it fares rather well. My other favorite, Dark Sky, went almost too flat and web-app-like in its latest update (the map was arguably better in the prior version, especially with Perfect Weather’s use of Apple’s standard maps). There are plenty of others, such as Yahoo Weather or Check the Weather that are also nice, but if you want something that gives you quick access to everything, Perfect Weather is almost perfect.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
Perfect Weather displays enough data and detail to satisfy most users, especially those looking for a clean, convenient interface.
Pros:Good design, loads quickly, lots of features on only a few screens
Cons: None significant—a few wish list items (more for severe weather, iPad version)