How to Make a Weather App
Modern technologies have significantly reshaped the weather forecasting industry. Nowadays there are hundreds of scientists, computers, satellites, radar and weather stations working all over the world just to help you decide what should complement your shoes: a light T-shirt or a warm jacket.
One more piece of good news about weather app development is that the hardest & trickiest part — the forecasting itself — is done for you by others. You just have to pick a ready-to-use solution that fits your idea the best.
On the other hand, if all apps use one of the same 5-10 APIs to get weather conditions, do we need more of them? The Guardian reports, that there are over 8 000 mobile applications with the word “weather” in the title for Android and over 2 400 for iOS.
The key here is your UVP — unique value point which you have to come up with. It can be either targeting a specific audience or providing some features that let you stand out from competitors.
But before we share our tips & hints on building a weather application, let’s find out for whom it’s reasonable to develop such a product.
👨💼 Weather App Development: Interested Parties
To be honest, weather apps aren’t popular among startups (despite there are some great success stories) since they’re quite difficult to monetize.
However, there are many other potential stakeholders who can get significant benefits in form of customer loyalty, increased engagement, reach and retention rate, you name it. So, it’s reasonable to develop a weather app if you are…
Online Media Publisher 📰
The first group of potential stakeholders includes local and county news networks, TV stations, radio broadcasting centers and so on. Take the BBC Weather app or Waff’s 48 First Alert Weather App as an example.
These apps aren’t aimed at making a direct profit; instead, they work in two ways:
- Create and increase Brand loyalty. If people are already adherents of your content - a branded weather app which they’ll use day by day (and that’s how we use weather apps, right?) will strengthen that.
- By discovering a cool weather app, people may want to find out more about the publisher, associated with this application and eventually become its follower.
It’s also possible to make a weather app with a built-in news block. From this screen you’ll be able to redirect users to your brands’ website or main application and noticeably increase your reach. And we both know that increased reach means increased ads revenue.
Travel Agency 🗺️
If you’re a travel agency stakeholder, you definitely know that the weather can leave a totally different impression of a trip than it was expected. Why would you go to the seaside if it’s gonna rain like cats & dogs so you won’t be able even to leave your hotel room?
Therefore, weather app development for travel business can bring many benefits. Here are a few ideas:
|Advantages for your clients 🙂||Benefits for you 💰|
|People can use your app while traveling to get up-to-date info and useful tips depending on their destination (e.g., a reminder to take a sunscreen or a friendly advice to plan your trip so you will spend Day 3 somewhere indoors due to a heavy snowfall).||Your weather app will create more trust towards your brand and emerge you from competitors.
Clients will have the feeling that you care about them and will be motivated to use your services again. Means what? Right - the next time they’ll book a trip through your agency again. We both know, that repeat customers are the most valuable.
|You can also make a weather app to promote last-minute offers. For example: “It’s gonna be sunny but not too hot (less than 21℃/70℉) in Paris during the next week. Just when we have a trip to the Eiffel Tower”. You can also promote close-range tours to get even higher conversion rates.||In this case, your weather app turns into one of the promotional channels that help you to deal with last-minute offers. Therefore, you’ll be able to increase your sales and are more likely to generate repeat customers.|
Also, we at Stormotion can integrate a weather module into your app (if your brand already has one) instead of building a weather application from scratch. This will significantly cut the cost to build a weather app, but keep all the benefits for your business.
Local Authority (especially in regions with high weather-related risks) 👩🚒
Finally, it’s even more of a necessity to create a weather app for people who live in the areas where nature can be really dangerous. Think of California with its wildfires, Tornado Alley or Asian and European countries that face floods from year to year.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”, they say. However, a weather app, developed by a local authority, can be useful in many ways:
- Obviously, it’s a weather app, so it will be used by locals to get fast and accurate weather broadcasts.
- You can and should pay special attention to weather-related risks. If you’re from California and the coming week is going to be windy and hotter than hell, remind your users that they should be super careful with fire and postpone hiking activities, for example.
- Additionally, we can develop an emergency management block for you, which will help users prepare for disasters (we’ll talk about it more in the paragraph about features).
- You can also use the app as another source to distribute important alerts and local news since modern people are more often on their smartphones than anywhere else.
- Finally, it’s a great way to show how much you care about the local population and reduce possible risks and damage caused by the natural disasters. Good for your social brand? Definitely.
⚙️ Where to Get Weather Data: Top 5 APIs to Consider
But no matter who you are — an online media publisher, a travel agency or a local authority — you can’t develop a weather app without a good prediction system.
The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are many available APIs — you just have to choose the most appropriate one. How? That’s what we’re about to tell!
This weather API provides a big set of tools to analyze weather and use this info in your application. Here’s what you should know about it:
- The technology relies on more than 400,000 weather stations around the globe. They cover over 200,000 cities and provide forecasts for up to 16 days.
- You can get historical data for up to 5 years.
- API allows creating layers to demonstrate pressure, temperature, wind, clouds and other differences on the global map.
- You can set alarms for specific weather conditions (for example, the temperature is above or below some mark).
- The newest options are UV and Air Pollution Index.
OpenWeatherMap has many pricing options that mainly depend on the number of calls per minute (free is limited by 60) and access to some features. Paid offers start from $40/month.
Another massive technology that can be used to make a weather app. It provides daily (from 1 to 15 days) and hourly (from 1 to 120 hours) forecasts for the needed location.
Among other vivid features are:
- Forecasts that include over 100 parameters and let you tailor your application to the needs of users.
- Access to radar and satellite images — convenient if you want to see an interactive in-app map.
- Support for over 100 languages.
- Data monitoring regarding current positions and forecasts for tropical cyclones.
A free trial package is available. The paid partnership starts at $25/month.
The company has split its API into several packages that are aimed at different target audiences. So if you want to create a weather app using the Weather Underground API, here are the 3 best options to choose from:
|Package 📦||Description 📃|
|Data Core, Enhanced Current Conditions & Enhanced Forecast ⛅||A basic offer that provides access to essential info on current conditions and close-range forecasts. The second and the third packages include access to the increased number of data sources and improved forecasting technology. Suitable for online media publishers.|
|Severe Weather 🌪️||Focuses on trailing and forecasting severe weather conditions like severe wind, hail, lightning and tornadoes. Suitable for local authorities.|
|Seasonal and Subseasonal Forecast 🌴||Long-running forecasts for up to 5-7 months. Suitable for travel agencies.|
DarkSky is another popular API for building a weather application. It’s available in 39 languages and reveals 19 meteorological conditions for locations all over the world.
This API is also well-known for its straightforward pricing model — you get 1,000 requests a day for free and every request above this limit costs you $0.0001.
This tool is especially good for travel agents since it provides additional possibilities on planning cruises (by sharing sailing and surfing weather forecasts) and snow holidays (by sharing mountain and ski weather).
However, it also gives access to real-time forecast for up to 15 days across worldwide locations, so you it can be easily used in any other industry as well.
You are also offered to tailor API’s characteristics according to your needs. The pricing varies depending on the chosen set of available data and the number of daily API requests and starts from $8/month.
Note: this isn’t an exhaustive list — if you decide to make a weather app with us, contact us and we’ll pick the API that meets your requirements in the best way.
Tech Minute: how does the API get user’s location?
Different APIs may use different approaches but generally there are 2 ways to obtain user’s location:
- Get it entered manually (users write the name of the city; some APIs allow searching by a point of interest or even postal code)
- Get it from user’s device (using the iOS and Android location-services).
The first option decreases the UX (since users have to manually search their location) but requires less coding. This is only suitable when you wanna check the weather at your destination point (for example, when traveling to another city).
The second option will definitely provide a better UX. However, you’ll need user’s permission to share his location data with you. In the light of the last events regarding digital privacy, make sure you don’t violate the GDPR or any similar regulations in the country of operation.
📋 What Features Should Be In My Brand's Weather App?
We’ve just found out how to integrate the heart of your app — the forecasting system. Yet, the visual side of the application doesn’t mean less for your users. In this paragraph, we will discuss how you can arrange weather data in a user-friendly way and provide more value to your audience.
Reminder: we can integrate the described below features into your existing application, if you already have one and want to improve it with a weather module.
# 1: Current Weather & Forecasts
The most used screen within your application is definitely the one with the current weather forecast. Therefore, it requires ultimate attention.
Despite this screen seems pretty straightforward — you should just deliver info to users — it can be organized in many ways. No matter what design concept you choose when you develop a weather app, we at Stormotion would recommend considering the following data as top-priority:
- Current conditions — temperature and weather.
- How the current weather feels.
- Forecasts for the day “milestones” (e.g. 8:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00, 20:00, 22:00).
All other data — including hourly or weekly forecasts, interactive maps and so on — is better to be displayed below or even on another screen.
# 2: Push Notifications
The second essential feature of your app is push notifications. They are needed to provide users with the most up-to-date info even when they aren’t using the app.
Here are several examples of how you can use them:
- Notify when there are noticeable weather changes coming (like rain).
- Send a brief forecast for the day early in the morning.
- For local weather apps: send emergency alerts regarding natural disasters like upcoming or ongoing floods, tornadoes, wildfires etc.
Tip: many APIs already include push notification solutions. So it’s a duck soup to create a weather app with this feature.
# 3: Extra Functionality
Extra functionality will help you to make a weather app in a way that perfectly matches the expectations and desires of your target audience. Frankly speaking, here you have an endless space for creativity.
For instance, here are some ideas regarding additional features that we can easily implement during weather app development and tailor your users’ experience.
|For ordinary weather apps||🗺️ Interactive maps that show a difference in temperature, precipitation, clouds, wind speed and other conditions over the globe.
🔔 Smart forecasts (yup, like in the Weather Underground app). Users can set preferable weather for different activities (like jogging, hiking, cycling, nature photography, fishing etc.) and get a notification when conditions outside match their plans.
|For travel weather apps||🌅 The sunset and sunrise time for travelers who want to take the best shots during golden and blue hours (photographers will understand me).
🛣️ For users who often travel by car, you can display the road conditions: its visibility, whether it’s slick or not and so on.
🎥 The AccuWeather app includes online webcams of the city you live in. You can go further and broadcast the places of your tours destinations.
|For local weather apps||📋 Develop a screen with an emergency list of essentials that will help to last a few hours/days until assistance comes.
🏥 Enhance the map of the area with emergency shelters and evacuation routes ranging on the type of natural disaster.
👨🌾 If you live in rural areas, implement the drought monitoring and weather forecasting that will provide assistance on agricultural activities (the best time for planting or harvesting, for example).
A Few Words on UI
Your design concept means a lot to your users. Depending on your aims, an appropriate interface can, for example, focus attention on specific features and deliver aesthetics delight.
To keep it short, here are a few design tips that we would recommend you to consider when building a weather application:
- Say more with fewer words. Don’t overwhelm the screen with all the info that you have. The main screen should include only essentials — everything other should be distributed between other screens.
- Make it move. People love apps that look interactive and a bit entertaining. If it’s raining behind the window — make it rain on the screen, too!
- Use custom elements. It may take a bit more time and resources but after all you will build stronger positive feeling about your app. Just like we did when working on Text a Letter.
Weather app development doesn’t require many resources but can bring you many indirect benefits to your business or citizens.
Yet, if you want everything to work smoothly, we’d recommend you to find a remote development team. Why remote? Cause this task isn’t that difficult and doesn’t require building an in-house dev department which, by the way, is more time- and effort-consuming than challenging a mobile agency.
We at Stormotion would love to help you with your Weather Development Project. Challenge us and let’s change the world together!