I’ve never bought a weather app before, and that’s because I’m pretty pleased with the one Apple bundled with iOS. It’s not going to win awards, but it’s simple and it works. So why then, did I buy a weather app called Haze the other day?
It’s probably got something to do with the rather unique approach Haze takes to telling you what the weather is like. This is to weather apps what Clear is to note-taking apps, a completely different experience to any weather app you’ve ever touched before.
The app costs $2.99, a fair price point for an app that changes the way you view the weather though I bought it for the introductory price of $0.99. That money is essentially paying for a well-thought out unique interface, which in turn provides a highly pleasant user experience.
The current conditions as well as a five-day forecast are given at a glance, with subtleties like variations in the height of numbers to indicate a relative pattern. Haze makes it really easy to determine if conditions are getting better or worse within a few seconds of opening the app.
There are three main sets of figures from left to right: the expected amount of sunshine throughout the day (measured in hours), the current temperature (in your choice of centigrade or fahrenheit) and the chance of rain (measured as a percentage). Each of these areas are accessible with a simple swipe, and by pulling the top of the screen downwards you will see a five-day forecast for each.
These five-day figures help illustrate a pattern, so if it’s 20º on Sunday but 30º on Monday, the latter figure will be displayed higher than the former. It’s a very simple touch, but one I’m glad the developers thought to put in.
Another simple yet fantastic feature is the background displayed on each page which indicates the pattern of change for tomorrow’s weather. If the background is moving this indicates a change in tomorrow’s weather – up for more, down for less, so if the lines are slowly moving upwards this means the temperature will be slightly warmer, with faster movement indicating a much warmer day.
No animation indicates conditions are set to stay the same. This works for each screen, providing more at-a-glance information about the temperature, rainfall and visibility.
On each screen a simple tap of the centre icon reveals additional information including the maximum and minimum temperatures for the day, sunrise and sunset times and a nifty wind direction indicator which makes use of your iPhone’s in-built digital compass to indicate the direction of the breeze. This enough information for most people, though you can only see this level of detail for present weather conditions.
The app doesn’t hold your hand very much at all, aside from a short introduction which details gestures and what the numbers mean, there’s little in the way of explanation as to what you’re meant to do to and that’s because Haze has a number of themes to unlock. These themes can only be unlocked by exploring the app and its various features, most of which are unlocked via the main menu (accessed by swiping downwards).
In total there are 8 themes to unlock, each of which really change the feel of the app.
The app’s fluid animations and light, airy sounds typify the iOS app experience – it feels polished, it won’t skip or stutter and it’s presented and priced like a premium product. Then again, that’s not to say it is perfect – yet.
At present the app only allows the fetching of weather data for your immediate locale. This makes it feel like more of a personal weather tool than anything else, but it would be very nice to be able to input other locations. A few more themes wouldn’t go amiss either, but that’s only because I love the concept of unlocking things through exploration of features. Aside from these two points, I can’t think how else Haze could be improved.
If you’re a fan of heavily stylised, gesture-based apps or need a little help visualising boring weather data then Haze might just be the app for you. At present it will only give you the conditions for your current locale, but hopefully in future this can be expanded upon. The themes are a nice touch, and the level of polish achieved by the developers is fantastic. Haze makes checking the weather fun, and that in itself is quite an achievement.