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Don't forget your umbrella (ella, ella) with these 5 free weather apps

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | May 9, 2013
Be ready, rain or shine, with these free weather apps

When it comes to apps, there are some that are so essential that you use them throughout your day (calendar, email, maps), and some that are.... less immediately useful (virtual lighters and vuvuzela sound apps come to mind). One essential app addition that no one should be without is a dependable weather app--and with so many variations of weather apps available, you shouldn't feel any need to stick with the default one that came with your phone.

That being said, there's no such thing as a perfect weather app. Everybody's different and while some people like to see numbers and stats, others prefer to see colors and pictures. These five weather apps aren't faultless, but they each have different strengths that will appeal to different people. And they're all free, so what have you got to lose?

AccuWeather--iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8

If you're looking for temperature charts and social media integration, AccuWeather may be the app for you. This free app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8.

AccuWeather's app is easy to use, but it's not quite as smooth as some of the other apps we tested. The app has multiple screens that you can swipe through to display the current conditions, as well as hourly and 15-day forecasts and animated radar maps. The iOS and Android versions feature temperature graphs for the hourly and 15-day forecasts, along with detailed weather information on precipitation, wind speed, and more.

AccuWeather also offers up weather news, including video forecasts, along with lifestyle forecasts for more practical users. These lifestyle forecasts are sort of a mixed bag in terms of usefulness--some are useful (asthma and arthritis risks), while others are...not so much (dog-walking forecast).

The AccuWeather app integrates with Android's notification bar, where it shows the current temperature along with general conditions, as well as with the Windows Phone 8 start menu. AccuWeather can commandeer the start menu to display temperature, severe weather alerts, highs and lows, and wind speed.

Forecast.io--iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8

Forecast.io is a simple, elegantly presented weather app that works on just about any platform--because it's web based. If you visit Forecast.io using a regular web browser (or a tablet browser), you'll see the full-featured website which includes a "time machine" feature that lets you look up weather data from the past and for the future (although like most weather forecasts, we'll assume the future info is conjecture).

Though Forecast.io works on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8, it's different on all three platforms. For iPhones and iPod touches, Forecast.io has designed a gorgeous web app that has all the functionality of an app downloaded from the App Store. The iOS web app displays current temperature data, as well as a 7-day forecast and local, regional, and global precipitation maps.

 

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