It seems like it was only yesterday that I was writing about Weather Underground's iOS WunderMap app. Today, the company announced the availability of a new universal version of the free application, bringing the weather mapping capability to iPhone and iPod touch users as well.
For many users of the app, that would be enough of an update to be worthy of celebration, but there's more that has been changed – in fact, in a day of testing before the app went live, I was frankly amazed with what Weather Underground has done with the app in about eight months. To begin with, the app now has a new, iOS 7-friendly design that is much easier to use and navigate. Radar and satellite imagery download much faster – I was impressed with how quickly I could load the animations that show how clouds and precipitation are moving into my area.
One thing I've loved about Weather Underground as a weather website is the availability of webcam data, so you can actually do "eyes-on" verification of the weather conditions being reported. WunderMap now provides full-screen webcam imagery and –- when possible –- traffic-cam access. Last but not least, I was impressed with the new icon for the app. Rather than go with the typical boring iOS 7 flat icon, the WunderMap developers created a very descriptive and colorful icon that shows one of the PWS (Personal Weather Station) indicators that you're able to pull up on one of the map layers.
Those layers –- the default map showing weather stations, radar, precipitation, temperature, infrared satellite, webcams, wind, US fronts, visible satellite, regional temperature, severe weather, hurricanes, active fires and fire risk –- can be viewed singly or layered on top of each other. Animations over time are available with a single tap on the lower right side of the app screen, and a legend showing what colors on a layer mean are also more easily visible now.
The app is free to download, but you'll see ads when switching or otherwise editing layers. An in-app purchase is available to turn off the advertising for a year for US$1.99, and if you happen to be a contributor to Weather Underground by providing your Personal Weather Station data, ads are turned off by default.
For weather geeks or those who are just curious about what's happening locally –- or around the world –- the WunderMap app is definitely one every iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch owner should install.