The Best Weather Apps for Android
With the days growing shorter and the air turning colder, keeping up on the weather is a must when headed outside. Throughout much of North America, a cold front is moving in that’s destined to make things snowy and icy, with temperatures lower this month than what we’ve seen from the previous two Novembers. Rain can make for slippery roads, and bridges can often freeze without you even realizing they’re wet. And even in areas where it’s warmer or drier than the northern parts of the United States, it’s still a good idea to stay alert and notified of changes in the weather that can turn deadly at any given time. To do that, you’ll need to keep a solid weather app on your phone to alert you to rapid changes in the weather. Weather apps have since the beginning of app stores on mobile devices, meaning you have tons of selection on the Play Store to find an app that fits you.
Unfortunately, though there are dozens of weather apps available for Android, not all of them are worth your time or money. Plenty of these apps are outdated, lacking in basic features, or haven’t been updated since the early days of Android six or seven years ago. With the glut of weather apps on the Play Store today, there’s no reason to stick with your bad, unsafe, or poorly-made weather app any longer. Whether you’re looking for an app designed to keep you notified with to-the-minute weather reports, or you want an app that can play back general weather forecasts specific to your area, there are plenty of options for weather apps on Android. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones.
Weather Timeline has been one of our favorite weather apps for years, and that continues to this day. The app, first released with the Android 5.0 Lollipop redesign of Android, uses material design and card layouts to make both an intuitive and gorgeous weather application for Android. With plenty of Android weather apps designed for Android 2.x or 4.x phones, it’s nice to see an app clearly designed for this generation of user interface. Even as Android moves toward a newer design language with reworked navigation menus, Weather Timeline continues to feel modern in daily use. But that’s not all: Weather Timeline also happens to be one of the most accurate applications on Android we’ve tested. Let’s take a look at what makes this app our top pick for weather forecasts.
First, a deep dive into the design of the app. A quick look at any modern operating system will tell you that flat design is in vogue right now. Windows 8 used a flat, tile-based system designed for touch interfaces, and though that was subsequently scaled back for Windows 10, it’s still largely based on that same flat, layered appearance. iOS and MacOS, both originally designed with skeuomorphism in mind, have been through major redesigns that brought a flatter, more modern appearance to the interface. And it’s no secret that Android has evolved over the years, with Google’s material design guidelines turning three years old just last month. Material was designed with a card-based, layered interface in mind that used physical object like paper as a direct inspiration, and that’s on full display in Weather Timeline. If you’ve ever used Google Now or nearly any other modern Google application, you’ll be familiar with the ideas behind Weather Timeline’s design.
When you load into the app, Weather Timeline opens on a list of your saved locations, with your current GPS-located position at the top of the list and your saved locations following. Weather Timeline is an app designed for you to save multiple places, whether it be the city you work in, a place you travel to frequently, the town your extended family lives in, etc. There’s seemingly no limit on how many locations you can store in your list, though most users presumably won’t keep more than four or five at a time. These cards are animated, similar to live tiles in Windows 10, with diagrams that show rising or falling pressure, along with alerts for precipitation alternating with each location’s state on the card. Some cards have special designs imprinted on them; for example, New York has the Statue of Liberty displayed as an outline, and Paris, France has the Eiffel Tower. Strangely, some major city locations, including Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the US, don’t feature a special design. Each of the cards are also assigned a specific color, such as blue for rain, grey for clouds, and yellow for sun, making it easy to identify the current weather condition for each location. You can swipe cards away, though you’ll have to re-add the locations back to your device to view the weather again.
Tapping on each card loads the weather information for each location. You’ll find alerts at the top of the list, with a breakdown of current conditions closely following. Weather alerts can include everything from flood warnings to wind advisories and even tornado watches; basically, anything pushed out by the National Weather Service as a piece of information you need to know will show up here. The current conditions card shows you the chance of precipitation, information on the speed and direction of the wind, sunset and sunrise times, humidity percentages, and of course, the actual and feels-like temperatures outside. Every card can be expanded or opened by tapping on it; for example, the weather alert card opens a full description of the press release pushed by NWS, along with time estimates until that warning ends. The current conditions card can expand with more or less information, though it doesn’t open in a new page like the weather alerts do.
Weather Timeline isn’t just a name; it’s also an apt descriptor for how the app is designed in general usage. Weather Timeline sorts the information for each location in order from present to distant future. With the alerts on top of the page—the information you need to know—closely followed by the current conditions card, Weather Timeline then uses lines along the side of the app to sort the information. You’ll find a precipitation chart, beautifully animated with water, displaying the duration and strength of rain over the next hour. If it’s currently raining, you’ll see a display that says it’ll end within a certain amount of time. Need more specific information than that? Drag your finger across the chart, and you’ll see a display showing specific inches per hour of rainfall. Below that, you begin to move into the future: the next 23 hours are displayed with a quick blurb about the forecast, and you can view hour-by-hour predictions by tapping on the card. Further down the list is your weekly forecast, along with another quick description of the future weather conditions, and multiple cards for each of the next seven days.
At the top of the chart, you’ll also find three icons at the top of your phone screen that display options for graphs and maps, along with a menu icon for settings. The graph option is gorgeous, using black and white diagrams for temperature and precipitation with wind thrown in for good measure. You can view the changes in temperature on a daily basis, changes in the wing speeds, the humidity, dew point, and air pressure, all using some gorgeous design that puts older weather apps to shame. The map view represents a radar, displaying the past several hours of precipitation over your selected area. This might represent the one issue we took with the app: it seemed to have some trouble loading in precipitation quickly when playing back the past. Likewise, the app wasn’t able to present a future view of the radar, something apps like The Weather Channel have been able to do for quite some time. The ability to select from multiple layers, however, including rain clouds and temperature, is a nice touch.
We mentioned above that the app seems to be more reliable than any other weather app we tested in this review, and that’s thanks to the weather service providing information to Weather Timeline. Every weather app on this list uses two or three distinct sources to pull their weather information, and Weather Timeline is no different. When you dive into the settings menu, you’ll find information on the data source provider, which recommends Dark Sky, but also provides Weather Underground, WR.no, OpenWeatherMap, World Weather Online, and SMHI, a Swedish provider. Dark Sky, for the unfamiliar, began life as an iOS-exclusive application before moving to Android in 2016. They source their data independently, marketing themselves as a hyperlocal weather company, and their information allows you to get up-to-the-minute reports on what’s happening with the weather in your area. It’s incredible powerful, and before Dark Sky officially arrived on Android, Weather Timeline was one of the few ways to use the data source. Dark Sky’s Android app isn’t bad, but we prefer the look and feel of Weather Timeline. Plus, it’s cheaper.
Weather Timeline is fairly customizable. In addition to changing the data source for your weather, you can also change the look and feel of the application. The app has a full set of theme options, including bright, material, neutral, classic, and our favorite, dark, which allow you to change up how the app is presented on your phone. You can change the icon set on your phone as well, and the amount of icons is insane. You can choose between animated and static options, material and monochrome options, and even icons from specialized creators like Climacons, GraphBerry, and DuckDuckGo. You can also control the look and feel of widgets and notifications, customize how often the apps shows cards on your Android Wear-based smartwatch, and change the display the app opens on when choosing a location.
Unlike many of the apps on this list, Weather Timeline isn’t free. It is cheap and affordable though, even for anyone on a budget. Priced at only $1.49 for the app without ads or in-app purchases, this is the nicest weather app you can purchase that will only run you the price of a large coffee at your local gas station to use for free. The power of this app makes it one of our favorites on the market today, with a reliable weather source like Dark Sky behind it, and a great design that can be customized to fit your needs. This app has saved numerous users from getting stuck in the rain with its powerful notification prediction system, and looks fantastic on both LCD-based displays (with its white-based themes) and OLED displays (with dark and black themes that turn off the pixels on the display entirely). Overall, you can’t go wrong with Weather Timeline unless you absolutely refuse to drop a buck and some change on an app. For most users, this app is worth far more than what developer Sam Ruston asks for it, and we give it the full TechJunkie recommendation.
Originally appearing in our Best New Android Apps article back in May, Today Weather has been the first weather application in years to challenge Weather Timeline’s thrown when it comes to the king of weather apps on Android. Certainly it’s one of the first apps we feel comfortable in saying that both its prediction and forecast engine and its visual design is modern enough to compete with Weather Timeline’s own interface, while simultaneously doing something new and unexpected with the design of its app. Today Weather manages to compete with Weather Timeline on its own merits without simply copying what we saw from our top pick. Let’s take a look at his fantastic new addition to Google Play.
Upon loading into the main display for Today Weather, the first thing you’ll notice is how different it looks compared to Weather Timeline. It looks great, but it’s definitely a different feel than what we’ve seen from the likes of Weather Timeline. Today uses a full dark theme that looks incredible on OLED panels, with an all-black background that blends in directly with phone displays from companies like Samsung and on phones like the LG V30 or Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL. Thanks to the screen technology provided by OLED, pixels displaying the color black turn completely off, creating a true black experience and appearing to blend perfectly with the display on those phones. Instead of showing all of your saved locations like Weather Timeline, Today focuses on creating an immersive panel of information with a photograph showing the current weather condition, along with the temperature, highs and lows, your location, and a blurb describing the forecast for your area. You may also see alerts on the display showing weather conditions pushed from the NWS directly to your phone.
Today actually operates in a fully-immersive mode so long as your phone supports it, removing the status bar from your screen and replacing it with the time in the upper-right hand corner. The photo loaded in this mode is randomly generated and sourced from a series of photographs that depends on the conditions outside; we didn’t see it repeat a photo during testing, though surely there is a limit on what can and can’t be displayed. At first glance, all of this looks relatively simple, but scrolling down from the page displays the additional detail included in the app. You can view the feels-like temperature, humidity, UV index, visibility, dew point, and pressure all from this screen. Scrolling even further down the display, you’ll find information on the next 24 hours and 7 days, respectively, with temperatures and weather conditions shown for both. Both displays can open into a separate screen allowing you to view their respective conditions, with blurbs for each hour or day. The weather blurbs listed inside the app for Today Weather are, in fact, noticeably shorter than what we’ve seen from Weather Timeline, but nevertheless, they’re informative and get the job done.
Finally, below the 24 hour and 7 day forecasts, you’ll find information on the chance of rain, the air quality index, wind speeds, the phases of the moon, sunrise and sunset times, and a helpful radar map. Each of these are presented in their own way. The wind diagram animates moving trees depending on the speed of the wind. The sunrise and sunset times use a curve to show where the sun is in the sky at that moment. And of course, the rain chart is similar to the appearance seen in Weather Timeline, with a graph displaying the chance of rain on the left and the time of day along the middle. Unfortunately, the rain here isn’t animated as it is in Weather Timeline, but the app looks good regardless, and has the added benefit of showing the rain chance for the next 24 hours instead of a single hour.
In a way, it’s actually quite similar to the timeline view in Weather Timeline, albeit organized in a very different, less-Google way. That isn’t to say it’s bad, however; scrolling in the app is smooth and fluid, though there is a small problem with OLED displays. Though using Today on OLED means that the blacks are deep and true, it also creates the issue of some scrolling issues because of the refresh rates on those same displays. While it’s not noticeable when an app uses a lot of color, on this pure back display, you may see the pixels on your screen having trouble with keeping up with the speed of your scroll, particularly when it comes to the grey-on-black icons that show humidity and other stats. It’s a minor issue, however, and doesn’t affect day to day use. As one final note on the benefits of using Today with OLED, the developers have a Note 8-specific version of the app that utilizes that phones extra-tall screen to show more information on one panel.
What makes Today Weather a true candidate to combat Weather Timeline for the top spot is its reliance on Dark Sky as a weather source. As we wrote above, in our testing, Dark Sky was the most accurate out of any of the sources tested in this article, able to predict upcoming precipitation to the minute and having far more accurate reads on temperatures and other weather indicators. We’re big fans of Dark Sky, and since Today Weather utilizes the same code, it makes it easily rise above much of the rest of the competitors on the market today. However, it does mean that, outside of the visual changes that come with using Today Weather over Weather Timeline, the two apps are pretty similar. What isn’t similar between the two apps, however, are the customization options that come with Weather Timeline. While you can change the look of the icons in the app, you’ll be restricted from leaving the dark theme that makes Today Weather instantly recognizable. It makes sense—Today Weather’s black mode is ideal for OLED screens, which are growing more and more popular—but those hoping
There are a few other features with Today Weather worth mentioning. First, the ability to send weather cards to other users that spell out the current weather conditions in your area. At the top of every location in your phone, which are accessible by scrolling left and right on the display to view, you’ll see a share icon represented by an arrow coming out of a box. This icon can be used to send your current weather conditions to a friend through a text message or an instant messaging on services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or a direct message on Twitter. It’s something that you might not use a lot, but you’ll be happy to have it when you do. You can also view multiple temperatures at once by tapping the icon next the share icon to open your list of locations. Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Today Weather has some excellent widgets that look fantastic. Whether you’re looking for a transparent weather display on your home screen, or something with a wallpaper for a bit of design flash, you’ll be happy with the widget selection with Today.
There’s one more thing worth discussing with Today Weather, and that’s the price. Unlike Weather Timeline, Today starts as a free download, supported by ads but not limited in anyway. From there, you can choose to pay a recurring 99 cent subscription fee every six months, a $1.99 payment each year, or a full $4.49 payment to unlock the app entirely. This app pricing structure is actually fairly flexible, with an option available for everyone looking to pay a lot or a little money, and the fact that you can use the app with ads built in means that, unlike Weather Timeline, everyone can gain access to Today Weather, regardless of the cash in their bank account. Overall, Today is a gorgeous alternative to Weather Timeline, not so much a runner-up as it is an alternative choice. Each app offers their own design language and options for checking the weather, but neither skip on what matters: the features and the accuracy. No matter your choice, both Weather Timeline and Today Weather offer excellent designs, accurate forecasts, and to-the-minute alerts and notifications that keep you out of wet and unsafe conditions. That’s what weather apps were designed to do, and both of these Android apps do it perfectly.
Yahoo Weather was our original runner-up seven months ago, right before the launch of Today Weather that has now taken its place. The reasons for it scoring so high with us were simple: the design is excellent, despite breaking with the usual Android design language, and utilizes the Yahoo-owned Flickr image sharing service to essentially pull off the same trick as Today. Full-screen photos are beautiful on this app, and the use of lined iconography and transparent shaders still looks great, even if the app is starting to feel a bit dated overall. Yahoo’s app has some amount of advertisements in it, and unfortunately, there’s no option to remove them. Those ads certainly take away from some of the good looks of the app, though it doesn’t ruin it. You can save multiple locations, view local time in each area, and even view local photographs for certain places depending on their location. You might not find as much saved information here as you will with Weather Timeline or Today Weather, disappointing true weather nerds in the process, but for a simple, free application, it does the job well.
Google’s own weather application isn’t strictly a weather app. As you can probably tell by the name, News and Weather presents users with both the weather in your local area and headlines at a national, international, and local level. Unfortunately, this dual-service means that the weather capabilities of the app are pretty limited: it only shows you current conditions, in addition to the next four days, with each day expandable with a tap to show you sunrise and sunset times, precipitation chances, wind speed predictions, and humidity percentages. Google also provides a series of graphs covering those categories, with temperature and humidity presented as a mix of a line and bar graph and precipitation just using basic bars. The rest of the app, however, is dominated by news headlines. For some, this is perfect—nailing two apps in one is ideal for someone with limited space on their phone—but the lack of a five or ten-day forecast makes it difficult to recommend to plenty of users. There are some highlights here, including a dark theme, material design, and some pretty solid widgets, but overall, fans of Google apps should stick to using Google Assistant for their weather.
Dark Sky as a service was one of our favorite aspects of both Weather Timeline and Today Weather, but the app itself is fairly divisive among Android fans and users. When the once-iOS-exclusive app came to Android, people were initially ecstatic. Though apps that used the service, like Weather Timeline, had existed for quite sometime, it was still a positive development. Unfortunately, in its transition to Android, the app’s pricing structure was modified to fit Android users, with the one-time payment app on iOS becoming a free-to-try app on Android, with a subscription model in tow. Android users, unfortunately, have to pay $2.99 per year to use Dark Sky’s app on Android. Over the past year and a half, the app’s reputation has rebounded, sitting at a 3.9 on Google Play, but originally, consumers were frustrated by the decision. Still, if you do decide to use Dark Sky instead of Weather Timeline or Today, you’ll find a solid application, with a gorgeous interface that shows the same information we’ve come to love from the Dark Sky service. Most consumers will probably find themselves happier with the one-time payment app in Weather Timeline or the lower-priced subscription model of Today, but Dark Sky is an excellent alternative to both apps.
The Weather Channel is one of the biggest names in weather forecasting, and has been for over three decades. Despite the usage of their cable service dropping throughout the 2010s, it’s still a popular and trusted name in weather, and millions of people turn to the application as their choice in forecasting prediction. Unfortunately, The Weather Channel’s app didn’t impress us with the design. Instead of tastefully placing the advertisements throughout the app, TWC has decided to place a large banner ad on the main display of the app. Both Today and Yahoo Weather handle their in-app ads better than The Weather Channel, which looks terrible. The information provided was also lacking, with a high temperature forecast for our area unlisted despite multiple refreshes. That said, it’s not a terrible app. The interface itself, ads aside, actually doesn’t look too bad, with a tile-based system that looks good, and watching local video straight from their cable channel is incredibly useful for forecasts and quickly seeing information presented. Also, the app has a “Road Conditions” card that tests the driving conditions in your area—truly a step up from the rest of the app. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t do itself any favors with its giant banner advertisements, but overall, it’s a good free selection for any user that doesn’t mind ads.
WeatherBug is, overall, a pretty good experience on Android. The app looks pleasant enough, even if it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the more design-focused apps on this list. The interface is simple enough for most smartphone users to learn, regardless of experience on Android. With four distinct panels—Now, Details, Hourly, and 10 Day—it’s easy to find the information you’re looking for on the app without much work. Each can be accessed either by tapping the corresponding tab or by swiping through the interface, and each tab presents its information in a clean and distinct light. Now, for example, gives you the basic information for the day, like current temperatures and conditions, while the Details tab presents wind conditions, sunrise and sunset times, and even information like the pollen condition. There is a persistent notification offered by the app, but it looks better than some of the other apps on this list, and of course, can be turned off in settings. Our biggest grip around WeatherBug surrounds a similar gripe with apps like Yahoo Weather: ads. WeatherBug serves up a lot of ads to its users, and without an option to pay to remove them, anyone bothered by a deluge of ads should avoid WeatherBug and pay for Weather Timeline or Today Weather.
Weather Underground isn’t necessarily a bad application. After all, it displays the current weather accurately and shows forecasts in an organized, concise manner. But unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as great as some of the other apps you can grab on this list. Though Weather Underground presents its information in a pleasant, material-esque presentation, it’s appearance is a bit dated by late 2017 standards. The font looks good, and its diagrams are quite nice, and the app is easy enough to browse. You can even use a webcam feature that displays weather cams in your location from a wide variety of sources, but unfortunately, those weather cams occasionally fell to being plagued by error messages. The app is customizable, though, with the ability to delete unused tiles from your settings menu, which means you can easily hid the weather cams from your display if you wish. This is certainly a positive, because several of the tiles act as advertisements for articles from Weather Underground’s sponsors, particularly the farther down the list you scroll. Advertisements are particularly bad in this app, actually, repeating several times throughout the list and taking up more than a third of our test device’s display. Weather Underground does have a $1.99 subscription that removes ads, but overall, we’d recommend choosing Weather Timeline, Today Weather, or Dark Sky’s own payment plans over this. Overall, Weather Underground is good enough to recommend, but we’d say sticking with some of the above recommendations is a better idea.