|App Review: AccuWeather|
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:15
The Crowded House classic urges listeners to, "everywhere you go, always take the weather with you". Thanks to a handy app, BlackBerry users can now always take the forecast with them as well.
Ever since finding out that I will be reviewing apps for BlackBerry smartphones, I have been conducting an informal, non-scientific poll among BlackBerry-toting family members, friends and acquaintances to find out which apps they like and use.
Almost everyone I've quizzed – from teens in high school, university students, right through to working friends in their 20s, 30s and 40s – had one app in common: AccuWeather. Not only did they all have it on their handsets, but they all raved about it and listed it among their favourites.
Still using my decidedly vintage (read: ancient) BlackBerry Curve 8900, complete with trackball (remember those?), chugging along on the equally vintage OS 4, I immediately downloaded AccuWeather to see what the fuss is all about.
Despite the older handset, the app installed without any glitches. Once you grant the app permission to access your location information, it then uses your handset's built-in GPS to track where you are so that it can deliver the current conditions and forecast for your area with almost pinpoint accuracy.
At first, it gave me the temperature in Fahrenheit. In order to change it to Celsius, simply click on your BlackBerry's menu key to access the app's settings menu. Once in settings, you'll see the units that are currently displayed at the very top. If you would like to change it from Fahrenheit, simply click on Imperial and select Metric instead. While still in settings, you have the option to enable the live icon, to display the temperature on the display icon, etc., by ticking (or unticking, if you don't want to) the boxes. You can also select the frequency of the live icon update, with the options ranging from one hour to eight hours. My default was set to four hours. If you want to change it, simply click on it and all the options will be displayed. If you have made any changes, click on save.
It is my personal preference to view the current conditions. This gives you the temperature, with the "RealFeel" temperature displayed in smaller font below that, a picture of the conditions (a sun partially disguised by a cloud, at the time I'm writing this) and, lest you need the picture explained, the conditions described in words below. A box to the right of the picture tells you the Wind condition, the speed of wind gusts (if any), the humidity levels, the UV index, the time and date.
If you want to change the settings to display a day-by-day or hour-by-hour forecast, simply click on the Weather icon displayed on the bottom left of the app. This will bring up the box allowing you to select the type of forecast you want. Scroll to your preference and click select. Those who would like to see the Day-by-Day forecast will get an at-a-glance forecast of the high and low temperature, a picture of the conditions (partly cloudy, etc.), a description and the day and date for the next twelve days.
The maps icon gives you the option to look at your area's radar map, the satellite map and the surface map. Other functionalities include News/Video (when I clicked on news, it brought up headlines of all major weather-related stories around the world); and Lifestyle (which gives you a health forecast, saying how high or low the risk is for daytime/nighttime arthritis, asthma, and migraines; an outdoor forecast telling you whether it's a good idea for barbecuing, walking the dog, beach going, star gazing, or mosquito risks; a sports forecast for running, hiking, biking, golfing, skiing, or fishing; a home and garden forecast detailing whether conditions are good for lawn mowing and if the frizz risk is high or low; and a green forecast that is not functional yet). The travel function will help you find hotels, helps you to map and track airport delays around the world (you can search by inserting your own or a loved one’s flight information) and a trip planner feature which is said to be coming soon.
For some unknown reason, I was unable to download AccuWeather to the new BlackBerry Bold 9790 on loan to me courtesy of BlackBerry South Africa. When I tried to download it from App World, I received a message saying that the app was unavailable to this particular handset. It is a pity and I hope that they will be able to fix it soon, because so far, AccuWeather is my favourite weather app.
Good: AccuWeather is easy to use, looks good, and I like that much of the functions work, even for those of us living in small town South Africa. I also really like that it will work globally. And so far, it lives up to the Accu part of its name by being accurate about the climate!
Bad: Unable to download it to the new handset, some of the functions not active yet.
Price: Free (BlackBerry App World)
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