RadarScope: The best iOS radar app for weather geeks

RadarScope: The best iOS radar app for weather geeks

Summary: RadarScope is also the only iOS app backed by a complementary commercial data feed, and the only iOS app to display super resolution data. Other iPhone apps use the public NOAA servers, which aren't always the most reliable or timely.

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TOPICS: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Reviews
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RadarScope: The best iOS radar app for weather geeks

I check the weather on my iPhone several times per day and suspect that you might too. It's a necessity for anyone who goes outside to know if precipitation is coming in order to dress appropriately and avoid getting drenched.

For forecasts I still enjoy the clean UI of My-Cast ($3.99, App Store) but for radar, there's a new sheriff in town. 

Enter Base Velocity's RadarScope ($9.99, App Store), the radar app of choice for any self-respecting weather geek. (Bear in mind that it's only a radar app, so you'll also need an app for the extended forecast.)

RadarScope is designed for weather enthusiasts (and meteorologists) that want to view NEXRAD Level 3 radar data and severe weather warnings.

It displays the latest reflectivity, velocity, and other radar products from any NEXRAD radar site in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico. Most radar apps on iOS simply display smoothed PNG or GIF images but RadarScope displays real Level 3 radar data in its original radial format which produces a high level of detail.

If you're a weather enthusiast but not a meteorologist, I highly recommend that you first read the introductory guide to how NEXRAD radars work the help section of the Base Velocity's web site.

RadarScope is different than most other apps in a number of ways:

  • It downloads and decodes NEXRAD data in its native binary format. The files tend to be smaller than pre-processed images and the data are rendered on-the-fly in OpenGL so you can always see the full resolution.
  • It displays a full suite of radar products from NEXRAD and TDWR radars, including doppler velocity, estimated rainfall, and some of the newer dual-polarization products that are part of the NWS's upgrade of the NEXRAD system. It also displays higher "tilts" of standard products, which meteorologists use to see higher level storm structure.
  • It's the only app on iOS, Mac, or Android that displays the highest native resolution available from NEXRAD radars (called super resolution, or level 2 data).
  • It integrates with the Spotter Network, a non-profit web site that aggregates reports from storm spotters. It displays spotters locations on the map and reports their location to the Spotter Network server, allowing forecasters, emergency managers, and others to see where spotters are deployed relative to the storms.
  • It integrates with AllisonHouse, a subscription data service that provides an alternative feed for radar data as well as storm reports, Storm Prediction Center outlooks, and lightning data.
  • It integrates simple, custom maps into the app so it doesn't use bandwidth downloading map tiles. The result is less geographic information on the map, but a much more usable app for storm spotters in rural areas with low bandwidth (i.e. EDGE) connections.

RadarScope was the first mobile app (on any platform) to browse NEXRAD Level 3 data when it was released in August 2008 and has become the best-selling app of its kind on iOS, Mac, and Android. 

The desktop version of RadarScope ($29.99, Mac App Store) is the first commercial application for Mac OS to support NEXRAD Level 3. Although it has essentially the same feature set, it looks amazing in full-screen mode on the retina MacBook and the 27-inch iMac/Thunderbolt display.

RadarScope: The best Mac OS radar app for weather geeks - Jason O'Grady

Topics: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Reviews

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15 comments
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  • RadarScope is the Best

    While I do agree that RadarScope is the best app for viewing the radar, it's far from being new. I've had this app for a couple years now. Worth every penny.
    iskor12
  • But not the only ...

    And it's far from being the best if you're on Android. Have a look at PYKL3 Radar before you buy anything. Technical point - there is a significant difference between Level 2 radar and super resolution. RadarScope does NOT display Level 2 radar.
    JimDantin
    • You're mistaken on the Level 2 radar

      RadarScope DOES indeed use Level 2 radar... their SuperRes products are pulled from Level 2 data and optimized for mobile use. Plus, the main developer at PYKL3 proved to be a jerk when asked simple questions about their product. Being a former PYKL3 user, I find RadarScope on Android to be far better at what I need when I'm out in the field, even on 2/2.5G networks. Even better yet, it actually keeps my settings, where PYKL3 couldn't even save them.
      heichers@...
  • PYKL3 Radar Gets The Gold For Android

    RadarScope originally was designed for the Apple iPhone. Only a couple years after this did they dive into the Android market, however they were late to the scene. PYKL3 Radar is far superior for the Android user, utilizing Level II doppler radar, dual-polarization products and so much more. I have no doubt RadarScope is a decent product, but for the same price PYKL3 Radar is the way to go for Android users.
    James Hanks
    • Another vote for PYKL3

      PYKL3 has way more than even RadarScope
      ChrisDTC
  • Pykl3 Gets my vote.

    I've used both RadarScope and Pykl3. RadarScope is my goto app on iOS but on Android, Pykl3 gets my vote. There is no comparison to Pykl3 in terms of customization, functionality and top-notch user-developer interaction. If you have an Android device, compare the two and Pykl3 will win hands-down.
    Bronson Gibbs
  • I'll Stay With PKYL3..

    I am sure Radar Scope is the best option for iOS users and a good product...being an android user I prefer the openness of the OS and also the multitude of options that PKYL3 provides that Radar Scope just doesn't in its current version not to mention the Programmer of PKYL3 incorporates many of the suggestions from users to make the next version just that much more better. I haven't got an Iphone just for this main reason..along with a multitude of others..
    Tony Castillo
  • PYKL3 hands down

    After having used PYKL3 since its release I have to say that the designer is absolutely spot on.
    Takari55
  • As a broadcast weather forecaster/analyst...

    I would like to express my opinion as i beg to differ in opinion with the writer. I think your evaluation fell short. I use Pykl3 in the field, I do intercept storms as a hobby, and as part of my employment, and I have compared many Android apps out there and "Hands Down" Pykl3 far away exceeds the features, capabilities, and user friendliness compared to Radar Scope. I have actually used it in the studio and the office and it compares to the products we utilize in our studio and on the air. (WSI, Gibson Ridge, and Allison House) I beg the writer to re-evaluate his article and go back and look at the "Gold Standard" of radar applications for DROID Then re-write your story.

    Thank You.
    Brian Spieker
  • As a broadcast weather forecaster/analyst...

    I would like to express my opinion as i beg to differ in opinion with the writer. I think your evaluation fell short. I use Pykl3 in the field, I do intercept storms as a hobby, and as part of my employment, and I have compared many Android apps out there and "Hands Down" Pykl3 far away exceeds the features, capabilities, and user friendliness compared to Radar Scope. I have actually used it in the studio and the office and it compares to the products we utilize in our studio and on the air. (WSI, Gibson Ridge, and Allison House) I beg the writer to re-evaluate his article and go back and look at the "Gold Standard" of radar applications for DROID Then re-write your story.

    Thank You.
    Brian Spieker
    • Article title is "...Best iOS radar app for weather geeks"...

      so no need to re-write. Maybe a separate article for Android apps would feature PYKL3, but since the focus of the article was Apple iOS, not really relevant! The author of course might want to edit his mention of Android for accuracy.
      randysmith@...
  • PYKL3 isn't available for iOS

    I realized that I didn't say "iOS" app in the summary, so I fixed that to avoid any confusion... but the headline clearly says that I find RadarScope to be the best "iOS" radar app. "PYKL3" isn't available for iOS. (... and this blog is called "The Apple Core!") Come on people!

    - Jason
    Jason D. O'Grady
  • Durrr Pickle

    As an Android user, I'm not mentally able to comprehend that this article is for an iOS app, so I'm going to complain that you didn't mention Pickle.
    ImaChaser
  • MyRadar or RadarScope for Kindle Fire HD

    I've managed to zoom in but can't zoom out on my kindle. It has to be something simple!!!
    Phillip McDaniel
  • CLIPCLOCK

    "Check out the CLIPCLOCK mobile app. The new social hub to discover and share the best video moments with your favorites!!!
    Here is the link: http://www.clipclock.com/download/4913"
    Erin Welson