iPhone Life magazine

Dark Sky Review

 

Looking for an app that will tell you exactly when its going to rain in your area, right down to the minute? Dark Sky advertises that it can do just that. How well does it deliver on this promise? Read on to learn what my real-world experiences with the app was like.
 
Dark Sky's screen layout is focused on one key measurement - rain fall. Specifically, rainfall within the next hour in your location (or ones that you specify in the top search bar).
 
Compared to other weather apps for iOS, Dark Sky is nowhere near as feature-rich as competing weather analysis, forecasting and reporting apps. But its not intended to be a full-blown weather app. Instead, Dark Sky is intended to do one thing, and do it extremely well - predict down to the minute when it is expected to rain in your immediate vicinity. If it is raining in your area, Dark Sky renders the amount of rain in a sloshy-like rain gauge that runs along the bottom of the radar display. This gauge shows if the rain is coming down light or heavy. You can also slide the rain forecast bar to the left to see a forecast for the rest of the day. Forecasts indicate no rain, slight chance of rain, chance of rain and rain. There are no '80% chance of rain predictions, just these more straight-forward text labels instead. While this may sound simplistic compared to other weather forecast apps that provide extended forecasts, a slew of meteorological statistics, graphs, charts and bars (and in many cases costing the same or less than Dark Sky's selling price), Dark Sky's accuracy in my own tests have proven to be uncannily accurate and especially helpful.
 
Dark Sky
 
For example, a recent thunderstorm passed through my area. Other iOS weather apps I use were reporting 'rain' for most of the day. Sure, these apps had to take into account the general area by advising that it was going to rain 'somewhere' within a 100 mile radius of where I lived, but that's a lot of ground to cover. And frankly, I don't care if its raining a hundred miles away when I'm out riding my bike or walking to work. I want to know if it's going to rain on *me* in the next 20-30 minutes to see if I can catch the train without getting soaked, or get in a quick bike ride in before the bad weather blows in.  Recently, I was so perturbed with these other weather apps telling me that it was going to rain all day, and not once did a drop of water hit the ground in my area that I gave up entirely on their predictive daily rain forecasting abilities.
 
Dark Sky detail
 
Getting back to the recent thunderstorm story, I was demonstrating Dark Sky to my daughter and mentioning how impressed I was with its accuracy for rain prediction. While doing so, Dark Sky advised heavy rain was going to hit our area in 20 minutes. Ten minutes later, winds picked up and ominous clouds began rolling in. And wouldn't you know it, ten minutes after that, the first rain drops began to fall.  It was one of those 'oh wow!' moments, and I've been sold on Dark Sky's predictive nature ever since. In fact, thanks to the program's incredible accuracy (at least where for I live), Dark Sky has banished my other weather apps to a 'Misc' folder that I only access when I'm bored. I have also promoted Dark Sky to a coveted position on the iOS launch bar for fast, trusted access.
 
That said, there are certain aspects of the program that I would like to see enhanced in future Dark Sky releases. First, while it's occasionally fun to click on the 'Clear skies are boring. Tap here to view <<INSERT RAINLY LOCATION HERE>>" text tip, I'd like an option to turn that text overlay off. Oddly enough, there are no option screens anywhere in the app (ex: for changing measurement units, durations, animations, etc.). I would also like to see the iPad version take advantage of larger screen real estate by adding a side bar that pops up in landscape mode allowing me to quickly access the saved or previously searched locations. While I can do that now by clicking on the search bar, it just seems more iPad-friendly to do the landscape sidebar approach for that kind of selection. At least Dark Sky is fully retina-enabled so that the graphics are fully high-res and look sharp on the latest iPad. Lastly, I would like to change the color scheme of the main screen to something other than black, yellow and purple. I'd like to replace Dark Sky's default blotches of purple rain clouds (I wonder if Dark Sky's developer is a fan of musical artist Prince) with red clouds instead (so that I can match my preference for musical artist Peter Gabriel and his song, "red rain… is pouring down, pouring down all over me"). But these are just small incremental embellishments that won't alter the fact that this is an amazing weather utility for people who live for the outdoors but don't appreciate getting soaked in the process. It's also the perfect assistant for those urban commuters who have to hoof it from their place of work to the train depot and time their walks to avoid getting caught in a downpour without an umbrella.
 
So let me reiterate once again that Dark Sky is truly a must-have app for anyone who needs the latest, up to date rain forecast with laser-accurate predictability. I am thoroughly impressed with this app, and I'm sure you will be too.
 
Title: Dark Sky
Developer:  Jackadam
Price: $3.99
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Email icon
Want more? Get our weekly newsletter:
Mike Riley's picture

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.