Exit? Check out the new features in the Weather Channel app first
The Weather Channel on Monday unveiled a redesigned and rebuilt app aimed at helping people be more prepared for disruptive weather. The app now provides more in-depth information about the weather, as well as new features to help you better understand how you’ll be affected.
“Our mission has always been to keep people safe and help them live their best lives,” Sherri Bachstein, CEO of The Weather Company, said in a press release. “Whether it’s ahead of a storm, planning a social event or trip, understanding how air quality can affect your health, or simply deciding when to go for a walk.”
The Weather Channel app still shows you the basics, like your daily and weekly forecasts, but I found that the new features give users a better understanding of how good or bad the weather is in their area.
Here are the new features and changes in the Weather Channel app.
The current weather and future forecast are prominently displayed
Once you open the redesigned app, you’ll see a banner right at the top of the home screen showing the current temperature and conditions where you are. If it’s cloudy, you’ll see clouds rolling across the sky, and if it’s sunny, you’ll see a clear blue sky. However, sometimes, there will be an ad in this banner, like a McDonald’s ad, which I found annoying when I saw a Big Mac at the bottom of the weather report.
Below this banner, you’ll see a menu with two options: Today and This Week. The Today option displays hour-by-hour details of your day. This list can show you fluctuations in things like humidity, wind speed, and what the temperature “feels like” throughout the day. It can also show you a one- or two-sentence description of what to expect that day, such as “Cold temperatures will pose a risk of freezing pipes tonight.”
This week shows you weather details for the coming week. This list also contains a brief description of the week, which may read, “The most beautiful day of the next seven days will be Saturday.”
The Weather Channel also said that when your area is forecasting severe weather, like a winter storm or tornado, another menu option will appear to give you details about the forecast to help you prepare.
The short descriptions provided in both sections seem particularly useful, especially when warning of inclement weather. When I look at a forecast, I can guess how good or bad the weather is based on the temperature and the sun or cloud icon, but having these descriptions around the forecast takes the guesswork out of it.
More health and wellness tools
If you’re concerned about disease outbreaks in your area, the Weather Channel app can now warn you before you head out the door. The Weather Channel said its app can now give you tools and tips related to several health conditions, such as colds and flu, that can be affected by the weather. There’s also a skin health section detailing your risk of dry skin throughout the day or how likely you are to get sunburned outside at a given time.
The Weather Channel has also added a new air quality prediction feature. This feature takes into account factors such as air pollution, smoke from wildfires, humidity, and more to create a new respiratory index. This indicator is intended to give you a better idea of the steps you may need to take to protect yourself from air quality issues throughout the day.
These features are easy to read at a glance, thanks to color-coded bubbles and one- or two-word descriptions. So, if your breathing index is good today, this feature will display a green bubble that says “Very Good.” You can also take advantage of these features to see more detailed breakdowns of your day and week.
The Weather Channel said it plans to add more sections, such as heat illness, headaches and even pet health.
Be prepared for some confusion from advertising and sponsorships. Some of these features are sponsored by companies like CVS, and these features will display that sponsorship. So, while you might be tempted to skip something that says “Sponsored by CVS” because it looks like an ad, these are functional features. You will see other ads in the app, and there will usually be a banner above it that says “Ad.” I’m used to these types of in-app ads, but one time a full-page ad popped up when I tried to open Radar. I didn’t see an X in the corner to close the ad, and I wasn’t sure how to bypass the ad, so I ended up closing and reopening the app.
Features that help you better plan outdoor activities
The Weather Channel app introduces a new Activities tab to help you plan outdoor activities like walking your pet. This tab is intended to give you a better idea of when the weather is perfect to do things like hike or go for a run. There are also new sun and moon features aimed at helping you plan high and low tides, teaching you about celestial events, and more.
I try to take my dog for a walk around my neighborhood every day. Before, I would try to walk before it started raining, based on the pre-loaded weather app on my iPhone, only for it to start raining midway through the walk. Or I’ll try waiting until the rain stops, because the app said it would stop in 10 minutes, only for the app to delay that time by half an hour. While the Activities tab may not be able to predict with certainty the best times to take my pup for a walk, it doesn’t tell me with certainty that the rain will stop in five minutes, no wait, 15 minutes.
The app shows what is important to you
According to the Weather Channel, you can answer some questions in the app to provide you with more personalized content related to weather conditions and topics that interest you most, like gardening and pets. This content is presented in the app in the form of articles, videos, and more, at the bottom of the app’s home screen and in the app’s News tab. The Weather Channel also mentioned that the more you use the app, the more the app learns what to show you.
Although I appreciate some of the food-related content presented to me in this section, what I really like is that this content does not interrupt the forecast information. When I open a weather app, I want to see the weather in my area first and foremost, not how some zoo animals in Australia are coping with the heat — although I will Check it out, because the animals are cute. I didn’t feel like these articles or videos hindered my introduction to weather.
An extended reality experience is coming soon for some
If you have a premium subscription to the Weather Channel app ($5 per month or $30 per year) You’ll soon be able to access an extended reality, or XR, experience within the app. The Weather Channel said this XR experience will show you virtual environments meant to help you better understand how certain weather conditions, like heavy pollen or storms, will affect your area.
I like the intent of the XR experience, but the ads here are a bit surprising. In one video sent to me by the Weather Channel, the XR trial showed a sunny day outside, before a bottle of CVS sunscreen even appeared from the ground. In a rainy day clip, the film puts puddles of rain on the ground — which is great and exactly what I want from it — but then a can of Campbell’s tomato soup appears on the table. Both of these ads appear to be activated when you point the camera at the bottom right corner of the XR field, so you may be able to avoid them as long as you don’t point the camera in that direction.
Overall, I like the changes made to the Weather Channel app. I find it mostly useful, and useful for better planning my day – even if a wayward McDonald’s ad rears its head from time to time.
If you have an iPhone, you can experience these changes and new features now by downloading the Weather Channel app from the Apple App Store for free. However, if you have an Android device, you’ll have to wait until later this year to make these changes, but you can still download the app for free now from the Google Play Store.
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