Blue skies for The Weather Channel's overhauled iOS app

TWC now has perhaps the best interface of any iPhone weather app. It's free, though you'll have to endure some beefy banner ads.

The Weather Channel 5.0 for iPhone.
The Weather Channel 5.0 for iPhone. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

On the short list of must-haves for every iPhone owner: a good weather app. And the one that's bundled into iOS? Not so good.

If you ever checked out The Weather Channel for iOS and promptly turned your nose up at its cluttered, clunky interface, it's time for another look. The Weather Channel 5.0 for iPhone features a gorgeous new UI and some fun new sharing options.

Sharing? TWC has added a photo button to its Home screen; you can take a snapshot of the skies (or anything else) and share it via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or TWC's iWitness photo-sharing network. (Privacy buffs, take note: the app "may even share your weather photos on The Weather Channel or weather.com.")

Of course, the new interface is the real star here. The lovely, elegant Home screen, adorned with wallpaper that matches the current conditions (blue skies, rain, snow, etc.), lets you swipe between locations, search for other cities, and toggle a drop-down box filled with details like wind, humidity, visibility, and the UV index.

One tap away: hourly, 36-hour, and 10-day forecasts. And using the newly simplified five-button toolbar, you can easily switch to Map, Video, Social, and In Season views.

I especially like how you can swipe right from the Home screen to get the current weather for wherever you are -- no need to search for it or add it as a location. And for a little extra customization, TWC lets you choose or take a photo to use as a background, while still keeping the current-condition wallpaper as a top layer.

If there's a downside here, it's the big banner ad that tops every screen. Of course, that's the price of free; if you want an ad-less experience, you'll need to spend $3.99 for The Weather Channel Max. However, this version of the app still has 4.0 trappings; no word on when it'll get the 5.0 overhaul.

For the past year, my go-to weather app has been Fahrenheit , which displays the current temperature as an app badge. (I can't believe no other weather apps have copied this killer feature.) I've never been tempted to switch -- until now. The Weather Channel 5.0 has everything a weather junkie could want in app, all wrapped in a gorgeous, intuitive new interface.

Have you found a weather app you like better? If so, tell me about it in the comments!

 

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