There are plenty of weather apps to choose from, but your best weather apps for Android and iOS offer accurate forecasts by region, current conditions for your location, useful radar maps, and the abilitymore
There are plenty of weather apps to choose from, but your best weather apps for Android and iOS offer accurate forecasts by region, current conditions for your location, useful radar maps, and the ability to set weather alerts for anything from government-issued warnings to expected rainfall in your area.
The top weather apps start with data provided by NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and then refine their forecasts with their own research, such as from IBM's machine learning tools for the Weather Channel app or 250,000 neighborhood weather stations for the Weather Underground app. Nearly all have a free version supported by ads. For a few bucks, you can get an ad-free, weather-filled experience.
Most U.S.-based weather apps start building their forecasts with data generated by NOAA's National Weather Service and then customize it with their own proprietary data. The Weather Channel app, for example, begins with the National Weather Service and then builds out its forecast using its own observations and forecasting models. Weather Underground also pulls from the National Weather Service and then assembles its own forecasts with live observations from more than 250,000 personal weather stations across the country.
Forecasting is not easy. Nate Silver, founder of the FiveThirtyEight website, wrote a detailed article, a few years ago, on just how tough predicting the weather can be. And different regions of the country are easier to forecast for than others. California, for example, is easier than the upper plains states to forecast, because of its more predictable weather patterns. To further complicate matters, some weather services skew their forecasts in the hopes of improving their usefulness, using a practice called wet bias.
On the Android side, it's easy to add the widget from one of our picks. After you've installed the weather app, press and hold on your home screen, and then tap the Widgets icon on the bottom of the screen. Scroll through the list of available widgets to find the ones associated with your weather app. You can also add the Google weather app widget. For iPhone, swipe right from your home screen, scroll to the bottom of the page, and tap Edit. Again, scroll through the list of available widgets to find and add your weather widget.
The voice assistants for Google Home and Amazon's Echo and Dot provide weather information; all you need to do is ask.
The best full-service weather apps cover everything from weather alerts to traffic reports.
The Weather Channel app mirrors much of what you'd find on the broadcast version of the service: It's packed with current conditions, forecasts, radar maps, road and traffic conditions, activity reports, and videos. You can set alerts for significant weather forecasts, area precipitation, government-issued warnings, and more. A free version is supported by ads. Go ad-free for $3.99.
AccuWeather takes a similar path to the Weather Channel app, offering lots of practical guidance on what to expect for the day. On the main screen, you get current conditions, what's coming over the next few days, short-term forecasts for your location, and customizable radar maps. You can set severe weather alerts and set an alert location. The free version contains ads, but you can remove them for $2.99.
Because you want to know what the weather will be at your location.
Checking in on national or regional weather is fine and all. But if you want to know what the weather will be for your neighborhood, then you want the Weather Underground app. It combines the strength of the National Weather Service with the power of real-time local reporting from more than 250,000 personal weather stations to bring accurate local observations and forecasts. The visually appealing app presents current conditions, hourly and daily forecasts, and other weather- and health-related details. And you can set severe weather alerts based on your location. An ad-supported version is free; a $1.99 annual subscription removes the ads.
When you want to know the weather right here, right now.
It's not just because it gives you forecasts down to the minute for your exact location. Or that you can see hourly and weekly forecasts. Or that you can set alerts for government-issued warnings and expected precipitation in your location or customized notifications based on temperature, precipitation, snowfall, wind speed, UV index, or humidity changes. No, Dark Sky is our favorite weather app because its radar, forecast, and temperature maps are insanely satisfying to use. An annual subscription is $3.99.
For those times you need a bit of personality with your weather forecast.
The Carrot weather does a fine job of offering accurate weather forecasts, pulling data from Dark Sky for your location. But what sets Carrot apart is the commentary and imagery the app offers along with its weather forecasts, giving you a bit of attitude along with its prognostications, for $4.99. It's a tiny, amusing weather person on your phone.