Stay ahead of the weather with these apps

Sunny and warm, or cloudy with a chance of rain? These weather apps will keep you in the know.

Whether you check the weather religiously every morning, or just want to know when to grab an umbrella before you head out, your phone can help out. Most Android phones come with a weather app pre-installed, but sometimes you want to dive a little deeper into radar maps and extended forecasts.

Though Google Play Store is teeming with hundreds of weather apps, the most popular titles all hail from the big names in weather, including the Weather Channel and Accuweather. I've rounded up some of the best options out there, including a few lesser-known choices. Armed with any of these, you'll never get caught in the rain again.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Accuweather

Android and iOS. Free, or $2.99 (£1.99, AU$3.79) for ad-free version.

If you crave a detailed weather forecast, Accuweather is for you. The app is brimming with comprehensive weather reports, with conditions, temperature, wind speeds, and dew point, all down to the hour. What's great about Accuweather is that you can get an overall snapshot of weather conditions locally or anywhere in the world, and then you can choose to dive deeper into extensive hourly and weekly forecasts. Weather enthusiasts can also watch Accuweather videos and read news stories about weather across the US and the world.

Accuweather added a new feature called MinuteCast to its mobile apps in 2014. MinuteCast promises to tell you if it's going to rain in the next 120 minutes, how long it will last, and intensity of the precipitation. You can see MinuteCast forecasts for your general area, or search by address to get a much more specific report.

What's great: The app's current weather screen gives a great snapshot of conditions right now, plus what to expect in the next two days.

What's not: Radar maps feel a bit slow and clunky.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The Weather Channel

Android and iOS. Free.

The Weather Channel is one of the top names in weather reporting, so it's no surprise its weather app is robust as well. The iOS and Android versions got an update in July 2014 to include several new features that go beyond forecasts. Of course, the app has all the weather information, maps, and video you could want too.

One of the best new additions is Social Weather, which lets you report the weather you see out your window to help other users in the app get the most current and realistic weather reports. With your Social Weather report, you can pick from five weather conditions; sunny, rain, partly cloudy, overcast, and breezy. Whichever icon you pick shows up on a map at your approximate location. You can also add a photo to your report.

The app also boasts a beautiful design, with location-specific photo backgrounds, and a sleek home screen that shows just the outside temperature, today's high and low, and the weather conditions. That design carries through the rest of the app with a simple, pretty pollen forecast and airport conditions charts.

What's great: The app's design is stunning, and yet doesn't detract from the crucial weather information you want.

What's not: The Android app sends out occasional notifications of the local temperature and hourly conditions, but there's no easy way to turn them off if you don't want them.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Wunderground

Android and iOS. Free.

Wunderground hails from Weather Underground, a weather network that relies on more than 30,000 large and small weather stations scattered around the world. That helps Wunderground give you accurate local forecasts, even in cities with widely different weather climates, such as San Francisco.

The Wunderground app has undergone a few makeovers since it was released, and the current design is the best so far. It's clean, easy to read, and includes all the weather details you could want, such as hourly conditions, wind speeds, and a radar map. When you open the app, it will ask for your feedback on the reported weather conditions -- is it really sunny where you are, or is it more overcast? By responding, you help Wunderground become more accurate.

What's great: You can edit the app's layout to make it more personal to your weather needs.

What's not: The app's Ski Report, hurricane watch, and Twitter features are confusing.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Yahoo Weather

Android and iOS. Free.

Yahoo Weather is best known for its simple and stylish user interface, which uses Flickr photos of your location for wallpaper. Those photos change often to match the current weather conditions, and even show up in the Android widget.

Though it's a pretty app, the weather details feel overshadowed by the nice design. Much of the weather information in the app comes from Weather Underground. While the Wunderground app is best for people who want a lot of information, Yahoo Weather is better suited for those who want fewer details about their current conditions and weather for the week ahead.

What's great: The Flickr photo backgrounds make the app look stunning, plus the simple animations for wind speed and sun position add a bit of fun.

What's not: The app's design often overpowers weather information.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Solar

Android and iOS. Free.

The complete opposite of Accuweather, Solar is an strikingly minimal weather app. There are no charts showing precipitation, no stats on the humidity or barometric pressure, and no radar maps. Instead, Solar has an extremely simple design with a colorful gradient background (which changes based on outside temperature and time of day), a simple text explanation of the weather conditions, and the current temperature.

You can swipe down on the home screen to see a three-day outlook, with high and low temperatures, or swipe down to advance the clock to see the upcoming forecast. Lastly, you can press and hold on the main screen to share the weather. Solar lets you add as many cities as you want, and it defaults to your current location.

What's great: Solar's simple, uncluttered design highlights only the most basic weather details.

What's not: You need to swipe very slowly to see hourly forecasts, otherwise you can easily go too far into the future.

 

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