Five great iPhone weather apps you should try

Apple’s built-in Weather app gets the job done, but third-party apps offer a lot more.

iphone weather apps
Jason Cross/IDG

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We spend hours a day in messaging and social media apps, and probably no more than a few minutes in a weather app. Nonetheless, a good weather app is one of the most important apps on our iPhones. It’s how we know when to wear a heavier jacket or take along an umbrella. These apps can influence everything from our preparation for natural disasters to our sprinkler timings.

It’s important to have an accurate, easy-to-read weather app that quickly and effortlessly tells you just what you want to know. The built-in iOS Weather app is fine for really basic stuff, but it doesn’t offer the variety of data, sources, or visualization that many users crave.

There are loads of weather apps on the App Store, but these five are among the best and worth trying out.

AccuWeather

One of the most popular weather apps on the App Store—and maybe your best choice if you don’t want to spend any money. AccuWeather uses its own forecasts based on a variety of data, and it’s stuff you’ll probably be familiar with, because it’s licensed to thousands of websites, TV and radio stations, newspapers, and more.

The app presents a nice simple weather info card at the top of a very long primary page, which you scroll down to see allergen levels, and hourly and daily forecasts. The radar screen gives you a good number of useful data overlays, too.

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AccuWeather has a lot of features for a free app, but be aware that it’s loaded with ads and tracking (which you can disable).

There’s an Apple Watch app with plenty of complication settings, if you want your weather on your wrist.

If there’s a downside to AccuWeather, it’s that it is loaded with ads. And by default, it sells device-specific data to third parties (for targeted ads among other things). You can turn that off in the app’s Settings, and you can disable ads with a one-time $3.99 purchase to AccuWeather Platinum (which also extends your forecast to 25 days, not that I would put much stock in forecasts beyond 10 days from any service).

Perhaps because AccuWeather has such a thriving business outside of its app, it tends to give you access to more data and features in the free, ad-supported version than most other weather apps.

AccuWeather (free, $3.99 to remove ads)

Dark Sky

Another incredibly popular weather app, Dark Sky focuses on down-to-the-minute weather forecasts. As in, it can send you a push notification saying that it’s going to start raining right where you are in 10 minutes.

The company was one of the first to take publicly available weather data and apply a deep machine-learning model to predict near-future weather for exact locations. It’s not as novel as it once was, but Dark Sky has gotten good enough at it that it’s API is used to feed that hyper-local prediction model to lots of other apps and services.

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Dark Sky’s clean interface and “it’s about to rain where you are” notifications help set it apart.

It’s also one of the few top weather apps that has no free version at all, though it also doesn’t require a subscription. Just a simple straightforward one-time $3.99 purchase.

The interface is exceedingly clean and clear, and the super-precise near term predictions are magical when they work (which isn’t quite as often as I’d like). But you’re not going to find a really wide variety of weather data here. It’s simplicity and clarity are key selling points.

The Apple Watch app is pretty basic, but clean and simple is generally what you want in an Apple Watch app.

Dark Sky ($3.99)

Weather Line

One of the most interesting and intuitive weather apps, Weather Line, just recently made a huge update to Weather Line 2. It’s definitely worth a look.

The app presents your different weather locations as simple cards with a temperature and conditions line. Tap the card to see more detailed data. It’s all really clean and simple, and one of the best weather apps I’ve seen for giving you all the general info you want at a glance.

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The new Weather Line is a simple, beautiful, functional weather app. But it’s probably not worth it if you don’t subscribe.

Here’s the catch: The basic free version is too basic. To really unlock the app’s potential you have to pay for the Supercharge subscription, which is $1.99 a month or $9.99 per year. The app pulls weather info from paid sources so it incurs ongoing costs, and the subscription covers those. If you’re a huge weather nerd (and have faith in the long-term viability of the app) you can buy a lifetime Supercharge unlock for $44.99.

With the subscription, you get lots of great stuff. The app will replace its basic 7-day NOAA forecast data with precipitation predictions from Dark Sky, weather forecasts from AccuWeather, and a radar view from RadarScope. Plus a bunch of themes and app icons, and a better iPhone widget. It also gets rid of the ads, which are rather minor, honestly.

Of note, Weather Line is very privacy focused. It doesn’t store or transmit your location data and doesn’t use location in the background.

Weather Line has no Apple Watch app, which is a shame given it’s awesome minimal-space-maximum-info design. The developers say it’s on their list, though.

Weather Line (free, $1.99/mo subscription)

Carrot Weather

Carrot Weather is one of the best weather apps around, but you’ll have to pay for it. The app itself is $4.99 and there are three tiers of premium subscription to opt into, each one unlocking more features and data sources.

The big hook of Carrot Weather is the snarky “AI robot” voice that says mean stuff to you (and refers to you as “meatbag”) every time you open the app. You’d think it would grow old quickly, but there’s obviously a human behind the curtain making new quips all the time, often based on current events.

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Come for the snarky robot, stay for the mountain of features. If on the pricing was a little simpler.

The app cleanly presents a ton of great weather data in an at-a-glance timeline. While the interface itself doesn’t offer a lot of customization, the app is just loaded with options. You can (if you subscribe to the right level of premium membership) get customizable notifications for rain or lightning or daily summaries, fully customize Apple Watch complications, access tons of different map layers, look at old historical weather reports, and more.

If price weren’t a factor, I would say it’s my favorite weather app. But paying $5 for the app and having three tiers of premium subscription (that’s two too many!) is kind of a drag. Still, you should check it out. Almost everyone who does ends up loving it.

Carrot Weather ($4.99, several subscription tiers)

Windy

If you’re all about weather maps and visualization, you have got to check out the Windy app. It’s basically a shrunk-down version of the fabulous windy.com site, and it fills your iPhone screen with a big, beautiful maps with dozens of attractive data layers to choose from.

Watching the wind animation is sure to make onlookers say “oooh” but it’s the detailed animated radar, future rain accumulation forecast, sea temperature, several forms of air quality, snow depth, you name it.

iphone weather windy IDG

Most weather apps make maps and radar a secondary feature. Windy does nothing but big, beautiful maps.

I could spend hours just browsing around through all the maps. If all you want is the basic forecast for your area or maybe the city you’re traveling to, there are far better apps than this. And there’s no iPhone widget nor Apple Watch app. It really is all about those big beautiful maps.

And it’s totally free, too! There are in-app purchases to make a donation, but they don’t enable any new features or remove ads (there aren’t any ads to remove!).

Windy (free)

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