One of life's simple pleasures surely has to be spending a buck or two on the weather app du jour, spending a day with it, then deleting it, before finally rushing back to the warm and accurate embrace of Weather Underground. This week's entry, Aeris Pulse, departs from the recent trend of cutesy visuals favored by several recent weather apps (Hi Poncho!), and instead offers slick, dynamic visuals paired to a weather API that notably isn't Forecast.io (i.e. the API behind Dark Sky) — simultaneously an increasingly preferred API in the App Store, and a decreasingly accurate one.
AerisPulse looks great, with hot colors, crisp typography, and weather data nicely presented in an attractive and easy to absorb fashion. Your launch screen is a big temperature print, a simple text forecast for the day, optional meteorological details, and the high and low of the day. Thanks to dynamic magic, visit Aeris later in the day and you'll find the background gradient has changed as it adjusts to evolving conditions and the time of day outside, a subconscious hint that adds to the uptake.
Back to the temperature print, tapping it transitions the app to an attractive (and quick to load) map view with many — possibly too many — overlay options (radar, satellite, severe warnings, temperature, many more, and pending in-app purchase map upgrades). "X" out and your back to the launch screen and one remaining bit of niftiness — pending weather threat positions, should you be so unfortunate, are displayed around the temperature readout based on your GPS position — i.e. if it's highlighted on the right of the temp, well son, you'd best be moving east.
Slide down on the launch screen, to add, change, or check conditions of additional locations. Slide up on the launch screen for the forecast. The upper half is your daily, presented as a Weather Line-style horizontally scrolling hourly timeline, the lower half is your weekly. Both views are again, easy to absorb — even if the weeklong forecast skimps on weather porn details. Slide the forecast down to return to the launch page and one last gesture, an odd one: pinch to refresh. You'll see the gesture coordinate with a ring around the temperature readout, but for those used to pull (down) to refresh, this will feel weird.
Visuals out of the way, what about accuracy? Aeris Pulse is developed by Aeris Weather (previously HAMweather) a weather API/SDK developer and data supplier for various apps, websites, and businesses with info gathered from ham radio operators, the National Weather Service, and personal weather stations from locations all over the globe. Theoretically, the coverage is large, thorough, relatively detailed, and critically — reasonably accurate. In some admittedly unscientific personal analysis however, Aeris' accuracy skews more towards Forecast.io than Weather Underground (WU) — a bit of a problem given my own records and 3rd party analysis strongly prefer WU over Forecast.io when it comes to both forecasts and current conditions.
So, the thing about weather apps is, well — the data feeding the app has to be objectively good, and at least in my immediate area, it's clear to me that Aeris' data is not so good. Yes, Aeris Pulse is a sharp looking app, and God help me, I remain ever a sucker for a sharp looking weather app, but I'm also sort of partial to not getting wet, to not wearing socks when I can, and to knowing what really needs to be in the diaper bag or not. As such, I once again return to Weather Underground and part ways with Aeris Pulse, the latest — but not the last — would be contender for my home screen weather app.
Aeris Pulse requires iOS 7.0 or later and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. At the time of publication the Aeris Pulse app was not universal and lacked an Apple Watch app.