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(Image: Screenshot by ZDNet)
The Weather Channel widget for Android
There are a ton of good weather applications on smartphones, but The Weather Channel just released an update for Android and BlackBerry 10 this week that made it my go-to application for these platforms.
Living in a location 50 miles from where I work in the Puget Sound region means I experience different weather patterns at work and at home, and have to make daily decisions based on the weather. We see a lot of light rain/drizzle in Washington and most of us native Washingtonians don't use umbrellas. However, I have a 1-mile walk from my commuter train to the office and sometimes I do need to cover up. The new Android and BlackBerry 10 version of The Weather Channel offers many improvements, with the key one for me being their "rain start/stop" feature.
The application now informs me when it is predicted to rain and for how long, right from the main screen in the cool new visual bubble. I understand this is the first major redesign for the Android platform since 2009 and I like it better than what I see on other platforms. The BlackBerry 10 app is based on the Android SDK, but is not a simple port and is natively built for BlackBerry 10. As you can see in my screenshots after the Android screenshots, there are some differences between the two applications. However, the awesome new look and the rain start/stop feature are common between these platforms.
According to the press release, the new features include:
Easier access to current conditions, severe weather information, hourly forecasts, 36-hour forecasts, and 10-day forecasts
An immediate narrative of what to expect, ie, "dry conditions will continue", "expect rain until 4pm", gives users a better idea of how weather will affect their day
New localized maps and map layers include past and future radar, severe weather bulletins, and tropical cyclone tracking
Beautiful, relevant imagery and weather-triggered backgrounds
Simpler user interface for easy-to-use navigation and quicker access to information
Improved management for saved locations enables a more intuitive user interface
Set up your favorites to take full advantage of new weather widgets and notifications
Option to expand detailed weather data that is collapsed for a better visual experience
Share weather forecasts, maps, alerts, and more with family and friends to Facebook, Twitter, and other major social networks
Automatic updates of localized weather, using your current TruPointSM location, and a new refresh button for immediate updates
A better selection of videos.
The application is free and ad supported, so you will see ads on both platforms. I don't find them too annoying, and given that the application is free, I am OK with seeing them. The application looks fantastic on my Galaxy Note II and on the BlackBerry Z10.