By Adam Grossman on June 17, 2015.
Today we’re releasing a major new version of Dark Sky with a new design, advanced notification features, crowd-sourced weather reporting, and faster loading.
A big goal of this update is not only to make the app significantly better, but also to limit how often you actually need to open it up: The ability to schedule daily summaries automatically delivered to your phone and create your own custom weather alerts means you can stay on top of the weather without having to constantly check the app.
It’s one of the biggest updates in our history, and we think it’s pretty great.
The focus of Dark Sky has always been on down-to-the-minute rain predictions covering the next hour — in fact, that’s all there was in the original version! Over the years we’ve evolved into a full-featured weather app with 7-day forecasts, but its raison d’etre has always been the next hour: when you open the app, the entire main screen is devoted to the upcoming 60 minutes.
With this update, however, we’re placing a new emphasis on a detailed outlook for the next 24 hours, and adding the ability to create custom notifications based on the weather conditions that will occur in that time period. Knowing what is going to happen over the course of the day is crucially important for planning your day, and we’ve made being able to access that information quickly and easily a priority. To that end, we’ve added an in-depth timeline to the main screen:
The timeline is both eminently glanceable and also provides detailed information when you need it, including temperature, precipitation probability, wind speed, humidity, and even UV index. (The next-hour timeline that you know and love is still there, but it now only appears if there’s going to be precipitation in the next hour.)
In addition to down-to-the-minute alerts of impending rain at your location, we’ve added some great new notification options: You can create custom alerts for weather conditions over the next 24 hours, schedule the delivery of a daily summary every morning or evening, and be notified of government-issued severe weather alerts.
Create your own custom alerts, and you’ll be notified whenever a weather condition (e.g. temperature, rain, wind, etc) will meet the criteria you specify.
For example: I live in New England, and planting a vegetable garden here in the spring is often fraught with peril, as an unexpected frost could wipe out fledgling plants. I’ve been making good use of custom notifications by having Dark Sky alert me whenever nighttime temperatures are expected to fall below 42˚, so I have enough time to cover the plants. These notifications have actually saved my garden twice this year, and it has quickly become an indispensable tool.
You can also be notified of precipitation (to remind you to bring an umbrella to work), UV index (to remind you to protect that delicate skin of yours), wind speed, snow accumulation, etc. The upshot is that you no longer have to check the weather forecast manually: we’ll let you know when you need to worry.
In addition to custom alerts, you can also schedule a daily summary to be delivered to your phone every morning, giving you the high/low temperature and forecast for the day. I have mine set for shortly after I wake up, but you could also have it be delivered at night and we’ll send you the forecast for the following day. If you see something that warrants a closer look, just swipe the notification to launch Dark Sky and check out the detailed Timeline.
And finally, we’ve added government severe weather alerts which will notify you of impending adverse weather such as thunderstorms, hail, hurricanes, flooding, etc.
Taken as a whole, these new notifications provide an unprecedented ability to stay on top of the weather, without having to constantly pull out your phone.
This new version also adds a “Report” button so you can let us know what the weather is actually like where you are. Up until now, we’ve relied mostly on government-run weather stations to provide “ground truth” to validate our forecasts. But there are relatively few stations world-wide, and they don’t always provide timely updates when we need them. By recruiting our wonderful users to help us, we can greatly increase the on-the-ground data that we need most. It’s quick and easy to use, so I hope you’ll submit reports often to help us make our forecasts even better!
For iPhone 6 users, we are also including the option to turn on automatic pressure sensor reporting. The iPhone 6 comes with a built-in barometer, primarily used for determining altitude. But there also exists the potential to revolutionize weather forecasting. If you opt-in, your phone will periodically submit pressure readings which will provide us with extremely useful meteorological data. We’ll hopefully have lots more to say about this in the coming months.
So that’s the new Dark Sky! In addition to these major changes, there are several smaller ones as well, including significantly faster load times, an updated Apple Watch app, and moving the settings into the app itself.
We hope you like the new version, so let us know what you think (and if you do like it, be sure to rate the app)!