Whether you live in an area with frequent or volatile climate changes that you absolutely have to keep on top of, or you're just a geek for a good weather app, there are several great choices for the iPhone. The Weather Channel Max, AccuWeather, and Weather Live all go above and beyond to provide everything a hardcore weather app user needs. But which one is best for you?
The Weather Channel Max vs. AccuWeather vs. Weather Live: User interface & design
The Weather Channel Max app utilizes a tabbed navigation along the bottom that lets you browse the different sections of the app. The main tab will be your weather tab which is located right in the middle of the navigation menu. The rest of the tabs support maps, videos, social, and in season. Each section of The Weather Channel app has a sub menu where necessary. If there are sub topics, you'll find them right above the main navigation.
The main weather tab is where most people will spend their time and contains a sub-menu that lets you toggle between several time constraints such as now, hourly, 36 hour, and 10-day forecasts. You also have a drop down that allows you to view data such as wind, humidity, UV info, and more.
Along the top you've got a search option to search for locations and an info button. The info button allows you to edit saved locations and change the background of the main screen. This is something relatively new to The Weather Channel iPhone app. You can choose any image you want as your background and weather will overlay on top of it. It's a neat feature that adds to the graphical appeal of the app. Info is where you will also find notification settings.
AccuWeather for iPhone's main layout is somewhat similar to The Weather Channel but not quite as busy. Along the bottom you've got tabs for today's weather, forecasts, maps, video, and more. Under the today tab you'll see a brief overview of the current weather conditions. It is divided into two main sections. The top shows the current temperature and RealFeel. Swiping back and forth allows you to view hourly forecasts for today. On the bottom portion you've got information like humidity, visibility, UV indexes, and more.
The forecast tab will give you a list view of the next 15 days. You can tap on any of them to view more detailed information on weather for that day. Maps will then show you a map of the location you have AccuWeather set to. You can click the play button at the top in order to view 20 minutes of radar. There is also an info button at the top that allows you to change some settings inside radar.
Returning to the main page you'll notice ads along the top. AccuWeather has chosen to only offer a free version of their app that is ad-supported. You can, however, hop into settings under the more tab and remove ads for a one time in-app purchase fee. The ads are not quite as obtrusive as The Weather Channel's free version but they're still quite annoying.
Weather Live approaches viewing weather data in a completely different way than both The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. The entire theme of Weather Live is based on widgets. This will be very appealing to some users and not to others who prefer a standard layout like AccuWeather and The Weather Channel both offer. The first noticeable difference is that you can set a badge for temperature. That means you'll never have to open Weather Live to view the current temperature.
The main screen of Weather Live allows you to view basic statistics about the current weather conditions such as the temperature, what it feels like, expected minimum and maximums, humidity, precipitation, and more. It is mainly the same information that you'd get from AccuWeather and The Weather Channel. The widgets in Weather Live are user customizable and will present you with the information that's most important to you.
You can tap on settings in the upper right hand corner to edit widgets and the general layout of Weather Live. Once inside settings you can change the metrics for temperature, windspeed, and more. Along the bottom you can toggle between display and layout. Tapping on layout will bring up widget options. Here you can choose between more robust widgets and more skimmed down ones.
Weather Live takes it one step further and allows you to also customize what data is presented on those widgets. You can choose four details to show up on the main widget. Things such as sunrise, sunset, precipitation, wind pressure, and humidity are all options. While the layout is gorgeous, the down side is the amount of information that is presented. You'll have to make some choices, and for many users, that may not be something they want to compromise.
Weather Live hands down has the best layout of all three apps but The Weather Channel and AccuWeather provide more information. Between the two, AccuWeather presents data in a much more accessible and user friendly way. It'll come down to weather graphical appeal or accessing information quickly is more important to you.
Tie between AccuWeather and Weather Live.
The Weather Channel Max vs. AccuWeather vs. Weather Live: Conditions, forecasts, and radar features
The Weather Channel presents current conditions via the weather tab as soon as you open the app. The main sub menu serves to show you the current temperature, what it feels like and what the highs and lows are for the day. Underneath this information you can toggle the drop down menu to see information such as wind conditions, humidity, UV index, dew points, visibility, sunrise & sunset, and pressure.
If you want to see more detailed information as the day goes on you can choose between the hourly, 36 hour, and 10 day sub menu tabs. Hourly will show the temperature by hour as well as precipitation and wind speed. There is also a little drop down tab next to each hour that allows you to expand into 15 minute increments.
The 36 hour forecast will give paragraph conditions about expected weather conditions divided into today, tonight, and tomorrow. This information includes temperatures, any expected precipitation, wind speeds, and the percentage of rain.
The last section is the 10 day forecast. This section functions almost exactly the same as the hourly tab. Just like with hourly, you can expand each day to show a more descriptive summary including expected wind, humidity, sunrise, and sunset for that day.
Returning back to the main tabs of The Weather Channel you can view the maps tab in order to see live radar maps. You'll see the addition of a few more buttons below the actual map. The one off to the far right serves as a toggle between fullscreen view. The next button over which appears to be a layers icon allows you to edit radar views. You can change to look at radar, clouds, a combination of both, temperature maps, and more. You can also choose to have points of interest labeled on radar maps such as cities, schools, airports, parks, lakes, and golf courses. There are also a couple more view options to play with such as opacity, GPS, and map types.
AccuWeather gives you a lot of information on the main screen concerning current and forecasted conditions without overwhelming you. The top portion will show you the actual temperature and RealFeel as well as a description of current conditions. Swiping the top portion to the left will reveal hourly forecasts for today. Tapping on any hour will change the bottom information section to the corresponding time.
The bottom portion of the today screen in AccuWeather shows you common stats such as humidity, visibility, sunrise and sunset, pressure, dew points, and UV indexes.
The next section of AccuWeather focuses on long term forecasts. You can view up to 15 days of future forecasts. On the far right of each day you can toggle the moon and sun icons to see conditions for day or night on that particular day. Tapping on the main portion of the forecast for any given day will give you detailed information about expected weather conditions for that day. You'll be given information such as RealFeel, wind, rain, ice, and snow.
If maps are important to you, AccuWeather also has a tab dedicated to only maps. You can see past weather conditions for about 25 minutes up to current for any area. There are also settings to change the radar type from US radar to US satellite to world satellite. You can also change some basic features such as radar opacity and map keys. If you'd like to add your contact's locations to the map, you can do that as well.
Weather Live allows you to customize what data is shown on the widgets as well as what widgets are shown. You have several options to choose from such as humidity, precipitation, sunrise, sunset, visibility, pressure, dew points, wind chill, moonrise, and moonset. The catch here is that you can only choose four out of these options at any given time. That means that you'll have to pick the four that are most important to you. AccuWeather and The Weather Channel do not make you choose between them.
The top widget of Weather Live does have some static information that can not be changed. You're given the time, current temperature, what it feels like outside, and minimum and maximum temperatures. You'll also see wind temperature by default. The bottom widget can be changed to show different information but by default you'll see forecasts. You can view up to 8 days of forecasted information at a time with Weather Live. They are pulling their data from AccuWeather by default but you can switch data to pull from world weather online as well.
The current temperature can be displayed as a badge icon on the Weather Live app icon if you choose so. If that isn't something you care for, you can, of course, turn it off within settings. If you're looking for radar maps, you won't find them. This may be a deal breaker for some but if you're only looking for forecasts and current information, it'll always be within a few taps inside Weather Live.
When it comes to viewing conditions and forecasts, I've always found AccuWeather to be the most accurate and the easiest to find my way around. The Weather Channel does a good job of laying out content but AccuWeather makes it easier to access. Weather Live's lack of radar and maps makes it less useable when it comes to informational purposes.
The Weather Channel Max vs. AccuWeather vs. Weather Live: Additional features
The Weather Channel offers a social tab that allows you to view the Weather Channel's twitter feed from inside the app. You can also upload your own photos or tweet your current weather conditions. The iWitness button shows thumbnails of user photos. You can view categories inside of them to sort by types of images.
The In Season feature of The Weather Channel app for iPhone allows you to view active storms and updates on them. You can also view pollen alerts and information for your area and in other areas of the country. The Weather Channel app supports information on the three main kinds of pollen: tree, weed, and grass. You'll see a small map showing problem areas and underneath that you'll see updates on pollen alerts for your selected area.
Under the more tab in AccuWeather for iPhone you'll see a Lifestyle section. Here you can see risk factors for current types of weather in your area such as arthritis, asthma, common cold, flu, migraine, and more. Along the top you'll notice a few tabs for environment such as health, outdoor, and cold. The outdoor tab shows information based on activities that people typically perform such as going outside to the beach, barbecuing, and more. The last tab allows you to view sporting activities and guidance on whether the current conditions are conducive to each.
Underneath the LifeStyle section you also have a news section. All of the news will obviously be weather related. Tapping into any article will open up an in-app browser with the article attached. Other than that, you've only got settings and location options to tweak and play with.
When it comes to additional features, Weather Live doesn't have any aside from the ability to change around widgets. There are no reports for different activities or health risks.
AccuWeather and The Weather Channel both provide additional information and news regarding the weather but AccuWeather has a lot more information to offer than what The Weather Channel does.
The Weather Channel Max vs. AccuWeather vs. Weather Live: Alerts & notifications
The Weather Channel app lets you configure push notification alerts for two kinds of events. You'll need to add locations to the settings menu before you have the ability to select alerts. Once you've done that you can set alerts for different locations for both pollen levels and severe weather. If you live in an area that is known for quick fluctuations in weather or tropical storms, severe weather alerts are a must. On the same token, if you live in a household with someone with allergies, pollen alerts are a great way to make sure allergies and other health issues are kept under control.
AccuWeather offers the ability to receive local notifications for your area. They aren't too specific as to what those notifications really are. The app description states that push notifications will work for severe weather. I haven't received any updates as of late but we haven't had any severe weather since the middle of the summer. If any of you have experience with AccuWeather's push notification services, please let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Weather Live allows you to set alerts for severe weather and when the temperature dips below zero. There isn't much to configure in the way of what kind of alerts you want. The only other feature is the badge option for current temperature.
For alerts, all three offer notifications for severe weather but The Weather Channel is the only one offering pollen alert notifications. This may be important to people that have allergies themselves or a person living with them that does.
The Weather Channel Max vs. AccuWeather vs. Weather Live: Pricing
The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, and Weather Live all offer free versions of their apps but they'll all either be limited or come with advertisements. The Weather Channel's best offering is The Weather Channel Max which currently comes in at $3.99. This removes all advertisements and gives you a few additional features. AccuWeather only has one version of their app which is free but it is ad-supported. You can remove the ads for a one time in-app purchase fee of $1.99. Weather Live also offers a free version called Weather but it's skimmed down feature wise from the full version which will cost you $1.99.
There is a $2 difference between The Weather Channel Max and both of the other options. For most, that won't be a deal breaker and price won't be an issue or a deciding factor.
The Weather Channel Max vs. AccuWeather vs. Weather Live: The bottom line
Weather Live's lack of radar maps will rule it out for many users.
The Weather Channel Max is best if you have allergy issues and need pollen alerts.
AccuWeather, however, has a better lay out and is currently our favorite, full feature weather app for the iPhone.