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Weather apps provide us with one of the most basic but essential tasks, giving us a forecast to plan out our days and weeks. Depending on which weather app you choose to download, you may also get additional information like monthly forecasts, humidity levels and precipitation totals. 

However, any third-party weather app -- as in, those that don't come built-in to your phone -- poses a risk, since they operate using location data, and sometimes ask for permissions they don't actually need. A number of weather apps, including those from The Weather Channel,  AccuWeather and WeatherBug, have come under fire or faced lawsuits for selling location data to advertisers

The built-in Weather app on your iPhone (which uses data from The Weather Channel) or Google Weather app on your Android may not be perfect, but if you're already in those device ecosystems, they have your current location information anyway. If you want to be even safer, check the weather manually in your internet browser or another device. 

There are hundreds of weather apps in the App Store and Play Store, so we haven't tried them all. But these are the ones we liked best, along with their privacy policy information. All are available on Android and iOS

Read more: Best iPhone apps of 2020

IBM

One of the top weather apps for both iOS and Android, The Weather Channel app offers local hourly, daily and weekly forecasts, as well as a "Feels like" feature to let you know what to prepare for when leaving the house. Owned by IBM, the app also offers real-time rain alerts with radar, and the ability to track seasonal allergies, flu risk and COVID-19 cases. The app is free to download, but ads are more apparent here than on some of the others. You can remove them by upgrading to premium for $10 per year or $1 per month. 

The Weather Channel app, its service providers and its ad and analytics partners may collect information, and share it with third parties, according to its privacy policy. You can request access to or delete your usage data. If you give the app permission to collect location information while apps are running in the background, it will do so. You can turn off direct location collection through your device settings.

Weather Underground

Weather Underground offers hyper-local forecasts for your neighborhood, along with interactive radar, satellite maps and severe weather alerts. On the homepage, you'll see the current temperature, what it actually feels like, the daily high and low and precipitation and wind information, along with a radar map. If you tap "more," you'll find information on humidity, dew point, visibility, UV index and flu outbreaks. Scroll down to find hourly and weekly forecasts, the air quality index, sunrise and sunset times, and tabs that take you to news stories and weather forecast videos. 

Like The Weather Channel, Weather Underground is also owned by IBM. The app is free, but you can upgrade to a premium ad-free version for $20 per year or $4 per month, which also includes detailed visual forecasts up to 15 days out. 

Weather Underground has perhaps the most impressive privacy policy of the pack: It lets you know up front when you open it for the first time that it will be using your information to target ads. But when you open the Privacy Settings tab, it gives you the option to directly open your phone settings to change permissions, see data usage information and toggle off "Allow background data usage." There's also a choice directly in the app's privacy settings page for either "standard advertising settings" (allowing ad partners to use your device information to target ads and for other purposes) or "do not share my information other than for ads in this app." There's also a tab to let you request a portable copy of data, manager permissions and request a data deletion. 

AccuWeather

When you open AccuWeather, you'll see a snapshot of the day's weather, in terms of current conditions, the "RealFeel" temperature in the sun or shade, the UV index and the wind speed, as well as a look ahead to the next day. You also have the option to select if you want the weather application to tell you to bring a jacket or umbrella. Keep scrolling and you'll see the different allergy levels (like tree, grass and ragweed pollen) broken down for the day. At the top, you'll have the option to check hourly and daily temperatures, along with a radar map. There's also a news tab where you can watch short news videos. 

You can upgrade the app for a one-time $4 fee to remove ads and get an additional 10 days of forecasts. 

AccuWeather collects user information and may disclose it to "unaffiliated third-party providers" for targeting advertising in this app and in others, according to its privacy policy. It does give you a list of who those providers are. You can change your permissions on your device (such as turning off location-based services). 

RadarScope

One of the top paid weather apps in the Play Store, the $10 RadarScope app is aimed at more serious weather enthusiasts and meteorologists. It gives you access to NEXRAD Level 3 and Super-Resolution radar data, along with tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flood and special marine warnings. If you're really into tracking weather patterns, this is the app for you. 

If you upgrade to a Pro Tier 1 subscription ($10 per year), you'll access real-time, nongridded lightning data, extended radar loops and inspector tools to better investigate radar imagery. A Pro Tier 2 subscription ($15 per month or $100 per year) will give you that as well, plus archived radar data from the past 30 days, tools that help you predict where there could be a tornado, hail size and probably information and local storm reports from the National Weather Service. 

In terms of privacy, RadarScope operates under the policy laid out by parent company DTN. The company says it does not sell information to third parties -- which makes sense, since it's an app you pay for. It does use Google Analytics and Eloqua web monitoring, as well as AdRoll for advertising, but you can opt out of all of them. 

Dark Sky

Dark Sky has a simple interface: Its home page shows the temperature and what temperature it feels like, and gives a listed forecast for the rest of the day or night. Scroll down to find a forecast for the rest of the week, and to access weather and forecasts in your area from the past or future. 

Dark Sky differentiates itself with an interactive world map feature that lets you zoom in and out of various countries, states and cities to track radar, forecasts and precipitation. You can report weather for your location to the app as well. 

In terms of privacy policy, the app says it shares anonymous data with third-party analytics firms and advertisers, and links out to the privacy policies of those advertisers (Google Advertising and BuySellAds). You can disable analytics in the app's settings to stop that collection, and disable notifications to stop it from collecting your location data while the app is not active, according to the policy. 

Dark Sky is free on Android and $4 on iOS, but you can upgrade to premium for $3 per year to get down-to-the-minute forecasts, rain notifications, severe weather alerts and other custom notifications, and widgets for your home screen along with OS app and complications for your smart watch. 

In March, Dark Sky was acquired by Apple. As such, the Android app will be shut down on July 1, and users will be refunded, according to Apple. Other privacy changes may be coming as well.

Carrot Weather

Carrot Weather approaches the weather report in a more fun, lighthearted way. The home page has some nice artwork and a sharp welcome message. One nice day in March under the temperature, feels like temperature, precipitation and wind information, said, "It's springtime, meatbag! You can thank me for taking winter out behind the toolshed later." When I opened the app again, it said, "Ah, spring -- that time of year when the weather finally gets nice again, but you still say inside playing video games." You can change the app's "personality" in the settings, to friendly, snarky, homicidal or overkill (includes profanity), as well as its politics. 

The app is relatively simple compared to some of the others: Its homepage gives you the current temperature, an hourly forecast and a weekly forecast. There's a tab for weather alert notifications as well. There's also a built-in geography game you can play. If you need a hint, you have to watch an ad. 

Carrot Weather gets its data from Dark Sky and Weather Underground, so your location information is also shared with them when you request weather, according to its privacy policy. Your location information can also be used to support third-party ads. You can obtain a copy of your information by emailing the company, and can delete information from the app's settings. 

Carrot Weather free to download, or you can upgrade to the Premium Club for $1 per month or $4 per year to remove ads, add widgets to your screen, and view weather reports from up to 70 years ago. 

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