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Recently, we asked readers to tell us their favorite apps of all time – and why they’re so great. Now it’s time to delve into some of the responses.
So we’re taking off our reviewer hats, forgetting the same old names that keep getting featured on the App Store, and taking a look at the apps that really make a difference for regular people every single day.
We received a bunch of great submissions which we’ll be working through in this new segment, but let’s kick things off with the incredible reader recommendation that inspired this whole endeavor.
Reader Allen Porter says forecast app Weather Mate (free, or $5/£5 without ads) is life-changingly helpful at his home in his desert home in Nevada. This is an app that’s flown under the radar somewhat, overshadowed by flashier weather apps but with a cult following of hardcore weather-watchers. He told us how the app filled a niche left by the popular Storm app when it was killed off.
“I was one of those Storm users who, quite frankly, was very upset about the demise of Storm. I tried out probably 20 other apps, and was not impressed enough to purchase any of them. Then all at once word spread through the community about Weather Mate and it took me five minutes to know I had my app again.”
Porter says that although it’s not the prettiest weather app out there, Weather Mate packs an eye-watering level of detail – especially useful for those who, like him, live in places with extreme weather conditions.
“I can’t even explain how good it is. The opening page is a little dated, but look past that and see the amount of information it packs. Current conditions of all sorts. Hourly look ahead. Precipitation totals for 1, 6, and 24 hours. Rain rate. Sky conditions. Text forecast. Sun and moon times (really useful for sky watching here). And more.
I haven’t even mentioned the maps (brilliantly clear) of radar and satellite and storms. Overlays – wind, temperature, snow accumulation, air quality, even current fires! Probably 30 different layers and overlays that can be easily customized to your needs. And they can all be put into motion, past or future.”
But perhaps Porter’s favorite aspect of the app is the way it tracks storms.
“I love the live lightning data – usually within a minute or two it’s on the map. Lightning causes a lot of fires [around here]. Turn on the layer and you can see where the active fires are, and the smoke plumes that can run hundreds of miles. Extraordinary data if you are out and about.”
His opinions were backed up by another reader, who also picked Weather Mate as their favorite app after plenty of research.
“I’ve tried more than a dozen other weather apps and none come close to the accuracy and features of this app. It has become my go-to app for all weather conditions.”
There’s plenty more to find in Weather Mate – so much that your best bet is to try it yourself and dig around in all the submenus. In fact, our only real criticism after taking the app for a spin ourselves is that its crowded design is perhaps a bit overwhelming for users who just want the basics.
Aside from that, it’s hard to fault the detail or the accuracy of the app, and a quick look at its App Store reviews shows that it’s certainly well-loved by all you amateur meteorologists out there.
There’s a wealth of information to be uncovered in the app and weather nerds will have an absolute field day with all the stats. We also appreciate the old-school payment model – free with a handful of ads, or a one-time payment for the Pro version. Simple.
Thanks again to Allen Porter for sharing his thoughts with us. Stay tuned for the next Reader Reviews segment, and press here if you’d like to tell us about your own favorite app!