Apple announced and rolled out iOS 15 in October 2021; a major update delivering features for which iOS users had been long craving for, which included More widgets, focus modes, Google-Lens like image text recognition (but a bit better due to less number of taps!), the redesigned Safari browser, Notification summaries and much more! Another striking change in all this gamut of announcements was a completely overhauled Weather App!
I was checking out the iOS 15 page on Apple’s website, and this redesign was not given much prominence compared to Safari, for example!
Source: iOS 15 – Apple, The weather app announcement has been tucked way beneath on this page, in contrast to other major changes in iOS 15
Apple didn’t give it much prominence, but I will— An entire article dedicated to the developments that led Apple to technically dominate this weather app space, hence, inviting the envy of both the android users and the app developers of other weather apps (android/iOS) in this process!
Let’s Talk about Dark Sky, first!
Dark Sky was (actually, it still is; on an already ticking time bomb though!) a weather service cum app that well basically provided weather updates and forecasts! (What else do you expect from a weather app? Offering you free umbrellas?).
So, Why Dark Sky was a big deal?
Screenshots Courtesy: darksky.net/app
I did not even plan to answer this question at first as part of this article because I never had this question come up! But, eventually I asked this question myself, which made me curious then! What the heck, did Dark Sky do different from other major weather providers like AccuWeather, The Weather Channel?
Well, I googled this question myself, poked around darksky.net a bit and even watched a very nice YouTube video of a walkthrough of Dark Sky app (video below) and here are some ‘Why’s?’ that I was looking for!
- From what I’ve read online, Dark Sky’s weather forecasts were dubbed to be the most accurate ones!
- Minute by minute (i.e. real time) weather forecasts— So, if it was going to rain in your location in the next 5 minutes, Dark Sky WAS capable of alerting you about it!
(Seems above points are no longer the case ever since Apple has acquired Dark Sky)
- Dark Sky offers things which others weather apps don’t; Hyper-local weather forecasts, narrowing down to the area YOU are in!
- Non-intrusive website and a gorgeous app— I compared popular websites like AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, Weatherbug, etc. They are all flooded with ads, some of their internal blog/article links scattered all over their websites, making seeing the weather very much ‘noisy’! Instead, Dark Sky seems a peaceful place… just the required weather info with abilities to dive in further. No ads, no articles, nothing; Just weather!
Plus the Dark Sky app too is well-made from what I’ve seen in videos showing just the info you need. with nice animations and beautiful weather maps! It used to cost a hefty $4.99 but, then you’re talking about the ‘best weather app’ here… this price was justified!
The Dark Sky Acquisition
It is 31 March 2020, the day when Adam Grossman (Dark Sky’s founder) publishes a blog post on Dark Sky’s website – “Today we have some important and exciting news to share: Dark Sky has joined Apple. Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy. There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone.”
That’s it! Dark Sky has been Apple’s territory since then; which obviously lead to the following changes:
- The Android ad Wear OS versions of Dark Sky were shut down 4 months after the acquisition
- The Dark Sky website and the iOS app will be available until 2022 year-end!
To conclude, Dark Sky will cease to exist in its entirety once 2022 ends!
This acquisition might have made Apple and iOS users happy!
But, it very much seemed that 2 segments of people weren’t happy: android users (of course, they lost a very good weather app!) and app developers (both android and iOS!) You see, there were apps on both android and iOS who used the information on Dark Sky’s website to provide weather in their own apps! (API access as it’s called!). Now that Dark Sky will see the sunset by this year-end, the apps that rely on Dark Sky will no longer be functional; You can read more about the developer side of the story here.
All in all, there is one obvious winner in this entire scheme of things— Apple’s own Weather App
PS: What’s so fascinating about this acquisition is that, that Apple hasn’t even talked about it for once! The world got to know about the acquisition from the Dark Sky team! Apple disclosed no details of this deal and chose to kept it completely discrete! No details of the deal (including the transaction amount is known!)
Meet the new Apple Weather app!
I am a bit late to the party to introduce it to you all; iOS users would definitely be aware of this change in ever since iOS 15 rolled out last year in October 2021! So, yeah, the weather app received a complete makeover then with added features right from Dark Sky!
Okay… coming back to the new Weather app in iOS 15, here are some new tricks that Apple added in its redesigned app!
- Weather animations: Sky Animations depicting the kind of weather being experienced at any location!
- A Weather Map: Taken from Dark Sky directly you can view many details ranging from air quality, precipitation, temperature, etc. These all can be animated too by pressing the Play button at the bottom, which appears after selecting either of the aforementioned options!
- A Consolidated single weather view just like Dark Sky: Open the app, and directly you will see the temperature at the top with more info being visible for next 10 days and other information when further scrolling down! This interface has indeed been adapted from Dark Sky!
- Notification Alerts: This is nothing new; turning this option on will let you receive critical weather alerts from your National weather services (Not available in all locations, Not in India too as yet!)
We’ve touched upon Apple’s Weather app too now! I think the Dark Sky acquisition and all the above changes are starting to now make sense!
As far as we know Apple, they are pretty good at maintaining a walled garden for their ecosystem! All this reflects through their tight inter-product integrations, their stance over iMessages, FaceTime, and now the Weather app!
Dark Sky offered features which no other weather service provider offered— Super accurate weather information coupled with hyper-local real-time updates, wrapped in a slick user-friendly interface. Plus, the title of the “best weather app on both android and iOS”!
There would’ve been other considerations in the acquisition but, these factors above primarily align with what Apple does with its product suite: Offering the best, but ONLY to, ITS USERS. Dark Sky fits damn well in this equation!
It’s worthwhile to note that Apple still relies ON Weather.com for weather information! I am of the opinion that this could change by this year-end! Remember I earlier mentioned Dark Sky will officially be dead by 2022 end? I very much feel Apple would subsume Dark Sky’s weather prediction/forecast algorithms into it’s ecosystem and later call it “Apple’s Proprietary technology to provide accurate weather updates; exclusive to the Apple ecosystem”
So there you have it! a pretty long / not so long (somewhere in between kinda) drill down of Apple’s probable ambitions to offer the perfect Weather experience in line with their overall goals building a beautiful ecosystem!
I don’t think iOS users need to even search for their perfect weather app on the app store anymore! You already have it on your device— Pre-Installed!
Scraping through the app store to find another one, I believe, would only be a waste of time!
What do you all think? Is the Dark Sky acquisition just a small feather in a grand scheme of things that Apple’s planning? Let me know in the comments section below!
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stay aware, stay appy 🙂