By Adam Grossman on March 25, 2013.
We’re extremely excited to announce the launch of Forecast, a new global weather service.
About a year ago, we released a little app for the iPhone and iPad called Dark Sky, attempting to do something new and interesting for weather forecasting, a field we think had become pretty stagnant. Approaching 100k sales, it’s been fairly successful; however, we’ve been continually asked for more: international support, longer-term forecasting, an Android app, and so on.
Rather than cram these things into Dark Sky, we decided to do something grander: create our own full-featured weather service from scratch, complete with 7-day forecasts that cover the whole world, beautiful weather visualizations, and a time machine for exploring the weather in the past and far future. You can access it from all of your devices, whether it be your laptop, iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.
How is Forecast different from other weather services? Here are a few features we’re particularly excited about:
We’ve taken our smooth radar animations from Dark Sky, and expanded them to allow you to scrub up to a week into the future to see how storm systems will develop and evolve world-wide. It is handy when trying to put a simple forecast such as “Rain next Wednesday” into context. (Try dragging the pin around to explore different locations on the map).
We seamlessly weave the minute-by-minute forecasts from Dark Sky into this new service. We can predict when it will rain or snow — down to the minute — at your exact location anywhere we have radar coverage (currently the United States, the UK, Ireland, parts of Canada, and Puerto Rico, with more countries coming soon).
Our hourly and daily forecasts cover the entire globe.
We’ve gathered hour-by-hour observations from tens of thousands of ground stations world-wide, in some places going back a hundred years. We expose it as a sort of “time machine” that lets you explore the past weather at any given location. We’ve also used the data to develop statistical forecasts for any day in the future. For example, say you have an outdoor family reunion in 6 months: with the time machine, you can see what the likely temperature and precipitation will be at the exact day and hour.
We also use this statistical data to generate more intelligent text summaries of the current and forecasted weather. For example: most people don’t really care about things like wind speed and humidity unless it’s exceptional for their location. Using the historical data, we know what “exceptional” is for any time and place, and roll it up into the summaries.
Existing weather apps tend to fall into two categories: Weather Glut, which target weather geeks by cramming in lots of data most of us don’t care about, and Weather Fluff, which attempt to reduce the interface to a bare minimum for the sake of simplicity.
Where do we draw the line? You may never care about the wind direction — until the one time you go sailing. You may never look at an hour-by-hour breakdown of the upcoming day — until a hurricane is about to hit.
With Forecast, we’ve tried to give you the best of both worlds by keeping the interface as simple as possible, but also providing links to additional detailed information, to let you delve deeper whenever the need or mood arises.
There’s a web interface for your laptop and a mobile version for your iPhone, Android phone, or tablet. You can install Forecast directly on your phone simply by visiting forecast.io on your device and adding it to your home screen. It’s completely free.
Under the hood, Forecast is powered by a data API that we are making available to others. The API makes it extremely easy for developers to retrieve weather data for any location on Earth. More information can be found at our Developer site.
If you make a weather app, we’d love it if you’d consider using our data. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions!
This is just the beginning. Over the coming months, we hope to continuously improve the service and expand our coverage. We’ll also be adding user accounts that’ll give you access to notifications and the ability to sync your saved locations across all your devices.
We’ll also being regularly posting updates on this blog, exploring in detail the various components of both the Forecast website and our upgraded data API.
Finally, what about Dark Sky? Don’t worry, we’re not abandoning it — in fact, we’ll have an update in the App Store in the coming weeks that will add in our improved weather forecasts and add support for the UK.