Introducing Weather Gods, a new iOS weather app made accessible with help from the AppleVis community

App Developer

Hi,

Our first weather app, Weather Gods has been released on the iTunes App Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/weather-gods/id1041512978?mt=8

We charge for the app as we have to pay for the data services we use, but hope people will find it is worth the price.

Many, many thanks go to the members on this site who helped make it into a great accessible weather app.

This is the start of the journey for us and we hope to bring many more features to the app in the coming months.

Scott
Weather Gods Developer

Forum: 

#1 Push notifications

Hello everyone,
Does this app have push notifications for Weather alerts? Thank you for making your app accessible for those of us who use voiceover.

#2 This app is amazing, I love it

As the subject says, this app is amazing. In short, every single element of the app is accessible. Push notifications? Yes sir and yes mam, there are tons. You can even go so far as to determine exactly what time of day you want to receive notifications. For some of these it makes more sense to receive them when certain conditions happen, although it is possible to customize them to receive them at certain times of the day, along with a text notification of the day's weather at 7:00 AM local time. I have lots of weather apps on my phone so I'm pretty picky about the ones I pay for, but this one's a real winner.

#3 Questions and Suggestion

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello Scott,

First and foremost. Thank you for making this so accessible for the VoiceOver users.

The app is very interesting and I do love the types of notifications that one can turn on. The only downfall that I have found and for some it may not be a problem. Why can't the app be designed to work when closed for the notifications to work? Needing to have it running in the AppSwitcher is odd as many other weather apps works great of not being having to be open at all time. I can easily see myself forgetting to reopen the app when I need to restart my device. So my biggest request for the app is that it can continue to give notifications even when the app is closed. This also present another question. I do love that anyone around the world can use the app for their location. So will all of the notifications work for people outside of the United States? Especially, Storms, Rain, Snow, and etc?

The interface is very accessible to use and I like the different type of Gods that you used. FireGod, AirGod, and etc to see the different types of weather information. Very unique! I will continue to test the app out and if I have any more questions for suggestions. I will certainly pass them along to you and the team.

Thanks again for making this so accessible for the VoiceOver users!

#4 Hi Thomas, I also made this

Hi Thomas, I also made this suggestion to Scott about having to have Weather Gods open in the background. I have the same issue; I forget to keep it running. I probably should have posted it here too as you did; I didn't think.

#5 Hi

App Developer

Hi
Thank you for your feedback.

Good question about the notifications and one which we struggled with during development of the app.

First, let me explain how the app is creating the notifications. Every hour our server sends a heartbeat to all of our users. The app is woken up for a couple of seconds and it downloads the weather for each location with notifications. We then generate all the notifications locally on your device for the next 24 hours. If anything changes on the next heartbeat then these are updated.

This approach has a number of advantages:

- it means we can have lots of notifications for places throughout the world, each personalised to the app user e.g. different schedule times, some people might want different wind speed thresholds etc.

- it's fast. One heartbeat and everything is recalculated

- notifications are personalised to your temperature and speed settings e.g. Fahrenheit vs Celsius.

- notifications are personalised to your time and date preferences 12 hour vs 24 hour clock for example.

- we can more easily support different languages - which will be coming soon

- you can still get notifications if you are offline or have a poor signal. The app has already stored them ready to let you know when the time has arrived for a schedule

However, I totallly agree about the having to have the app in the task manager. Unfortunately, Apple insist that this approach means that if the user force closes the app then we are to stop generating notifications in this manner.

One thing to say is that we aren't using your battery when the app is in the task manager, other than to periodically fetch the weather and update the notifications. This happens quickly.

I'm still exploring other ways of achieving this and being able to close the app.

Ultimately it would require lots of servers and databases, as well as accessing large amounts of weather data. This is something we could not afford at the moment as we are a very small startup.

Hopefully this has helped to understand our reasons for needing the app to be in the task switched.

Thank you for trying our app and I hope you continue to use it and find it useful.

Scott

#6 Yes, a great app but a couple of suggestions

Hello Scott,
As others have said, this is a great app and so accessible.
I am still having a good play with it and for me, it is just as good or even better than the BBC weather app. I will need a little more time to get used to it but my initial comments are as follows:

1. I love the different Gods, such a simple way to let users know about what each area represents.
2. The weather wheel is a great idea but I'm still getting used to that one as I've never come across that idea before. I also like the way you have got all the required information into notifications, although I will now have to wait until 7am tomorrow to find out what happens!
4. However, could you have a look at the unit settings. When I set my units to C and miles per hour, the app still displays F and miles per hour.
5. I was a little confused about the settings tab. At first I could not work out how to get out of settings until I hit the settings tab again. Is there some way you can change the settings tab when in the settings screen? Either close or the standard IOS 'back' next to the settings tab to close it?
6. What does sounds do? I'm not sure but does it turn sounds off and on? Could a note be added to this affect in the settings screen?

Other than that, brilliant.

Steve

#7 Hi Steve,

App Developer

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the feedback.

4. Unit settings. Sorry about this, it seems that the accessibility label is moving around with the settings. I will schedule for the next release which should be in the next week or so. As a workaround for now (very poor, sorry) - pick each one, exit back and then swipe to the fire god to check temperature unit. And then swipe to the air god to check wind speed.

5. Yes, settings isn't obvious to exit. I have put in the magic two finger 'Z' gesture for closing most screens. I don't know how many people use this? I will also update the settings header to include 'Tap to exit Settings'. Unfortunately we cant use the 'close' or 'back' buttons on this screen as it's not been built using the standard iOS navigation.

6. The sounds toggle just switches on or off the sounds. I will add a not to that one as well.

Quick one on the notifications - some testers have found that the do not disturb spans the schedule morning time, if that is the case then you might not get them.

For a quick try out the notifications - pick a location and then activate the wind setting for 'as it happens' on its lowest setting. Almost always generates a notification within the hour.

Thanks for trying out the app - we've got lots more features in the coming months!

#8 App entry

Can someone create an app entry? I haven't had time to download the app or I would do it, but I noticed it's not in the app directory yet.

Thanks.

#9 Weather wheel, and another suggestion

Hey Scott, like I mentioned before this app is beautiful. Someone mentioned aweather wheel but I've been all over the app and couldn't find it. it was probably stairing me dead in the face and I didn't know it. Also, as far as settings goes, the z gesture thing is something I've never even heard of, and wouldn't know how to make a letter z in print so that's probably not gonna work well. So a simple back or close button in the settings would probably be your best bet. Also I notice that when you're looking at the forcast for a specific day, there's a toggle day and night switch. is there a way that we can see an entire 24 hour time span on one screen? I must admit this is a new way of showing weather so i'm not really familiar with this way of presenting things. It's certainly not bad, it's just not something I'm used to. If there's a space limitation due to other visual elements on the screen that makes total sense but I figured i'd ask. Ok, I hope I haven't thrown too much at ya!

#10 Interesting about the 'Z"

App Developer

Interesting about the 'Z" gesture - it's an Apple feature, perhaps not used much by the sounds of it.

This is what Apple tell developers:

VoiceOver defines five special gestures for triggering app-specific actions.

Escape. A two-finger Z-shaped gesture that dismisses a modal dialog, or goes back one level in a navigation hierarchy.
Magic Tap. A two-finger double-tap that performs the most-intended action.
Three-Finger Scroll. A three-finger swipe that scrolls content vertically or horizontally.
Increment. A one-finger swipe up that increments a value in an element.
Decrement. A one-finger swipe down that decrements a value in an element.

So I've implemented the Escape and Magic Tap actions where I thought they might be useful.

However, I'll still put the 'back' instructions on the heading - already raised the bug report!

The weather wheel is pretty cool; 7 days worth of hourly data; with accessible buttons to go back and forwards one hour or one day.

It's on the main screen after you've swiped through the gods. Voiceover will announce 'weather wheel, button'.

Combining the day and night views is quite challenging as visually we swap out one set of visuals and replace with another. Would be quite difficult to combine into the accessibility text. I will think on it though in case something elegant springs to mind.

#11 interesting weather app

before i try this interesting app, my question is, some of iPhone user turn there location service off if that is in case, is there feature of the weather gods which can it says the accurate weather information even the location service are off? because, or just like the weather app of apple which is built in there you can save city which can be view the weather even the location service are off, but all we know that is not so accurate as of now(just my opinion)

best regards,

#12 "Z" gesture

Hi All,
I think that the aforementioned "Z: gesture is more commonly referred to as a "Two Finger Scrub. It is, I would suggest, commonly used and I hope that the Dev continues to implement it within the App.

HTH

#13 Location Service Switched Off

App Developer

Hi,

Yes, you can switch your location services off.

We then allow you to search for a location and we have a massive database of locations - millions.

The search works in two modes:

1. When you first type it consults mostly places with population > 1000 people.
2. However, if the matches coming back aren't your location then keep typing. The app is smart and will switch to a mode where it widens the search and hopefully finds yours location.

With regards to accuracy - we use a mix of data from two of the best weather providers in the world:

- Dark Sky
- IBM The Weather Company

Hope this helps

#14 "Z" gesture

App Developer

Thanks for clarifying.

#15 Thank you!

App Developer

Just a quick note to thank everyone who has downloaded our app - it's really much appreciated :)

Can I also ask if you would be so kind as to leave a review (assuming a good one!) as the reviews help us to grow the app.

Thanks
Scott

#16 excellent app!

Not only did I take the leap of faith after having heard about this app, but I also gifted it to someone else who also loves it. I appreciate the work put into this app to make it accessible! I noticed it pulls data from DarkSky, which I was already using. So, glad to have the same resource but in a more accessible format. I am looking forward to what's to come! Lots of good information for a very reasonable price.

#17 Alerts warning

Question. Does the app gives warning or alerts when storns, or any related weather occurs?I am in Chicago. How much battery it uses?Also How much? there is no podcast or posting about this app so I only know what I read.

#18 Alerts Warning

App Developer

Hi,

Currently you can get notifications for thunderstorms and other related weather such as rain, snow, wind, ice, fog, frost etc

We are hoping to add the national severe weather alerts in the next couple of months.

Battery wise it seems pretty good in our testing.

#19 Price

How many $?

#20 Price

App Developer

$3.99, no adverts and no IAP

#21 Pulling weather information from dark sky app

Hello, before I pull the trigger and pay five dollars Canadian for what sounds like an awesome weather app, I need to know if I will have access to all the same great features here in my native land of Canada? I ask, because dark sky is not fully functional in Canada and in fact last I looked, it's not available in Canada, I might be wrong on that but, and email to the developer of dark sky or year or so ago resulted in a response stating that there was some restrictions due to radar access in Canada. Please let me know if some of the features like alerts etc. are not available to me in Canada. Thank you and keep up the great work!

#22 Canada

App Developer

Hi,

We don't have any feature in the app that is not available worldwide and we regularly test the app with places throughout the world, including the Antarctic :)

In terms of radar, it's not a feature we have in the app just yet - hoping to add in the new year.

We also have (currently) six customers who have purchased Weather Gods in Canada and have not heard of any problems.

Also, we got a lovely review from Blee Blat who is on this forum and appears to be from Canada.

Hope that has helped.

#23 Big Cities

I’m also from Chicago. When I opened the app for the first time, the app believed my location was a north shore suburb about five miles away. I then entered my zip code. I was presented only with the option of Chicago and no other weather station. The official weather station designated by the National Weather Service in Chicago is O’Hare Airport. I live on the north lakefront, about 13 miles away from the airport. Temperatures by the lake are often cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Also, the central city acts like a heat island. The Weather Company whose data is used by Weather Gods has thousands of weather stations in the United States with some in my neighborhood. Please consider adding some of these so those in big cities could have more specific weather information.

#24 siri and weather gods

If I delete the weather app that comes with iOS 10.1.1. Would it work with siri? If I ask siri the weather for tomorrow or what is the tempature now will siri be able to access weather gods?

#25 Big Cities

App Developer

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for the feedback.

I'm in the UK so not really familiar with US zip codes and didn't think our location database had any, so I'm not surprised that didn't work so well. I know we don't support UK zip codes.

The search works in two modes:

When you first start typing it's looking at larger places, however, if it detects that you're not getting the location you want then it starts to widen the search - just keep typing and it will automatically widen. We felt this was a good balance between initially bringing back lots of places, yet still allowing the smaller locations to be found.

I did try O’Hare Airport and that came up on the wider search - i typed 'Chicago O' and it showed up

About the weather stations, we don't limit the app at all to available weather stations - we use all those from The Weather Company and those from Dark Sky.

I would be more than happy to investigate the location search to check that the app is providing a more accurate representation of the weather for your area, if you would like me to, please email me feedback@weathergodsapp.com.

I did have the pleasure of spending some time in Chicago many years ago and understand your comments about the weather difference between the city and the lake - a great city and one I would like to visit again at some point.

#26 Siri

App Developer

Hi Holger,

Apple only allows Siri to server weather queries to it's own app. They are gradually opening up Siri to developers and as soon as 'weather' is supported for 3rd party apps then the Weather Gods will most definitely get that feature :)

#27 Weather Locations

I live about half a mile from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago cubs. I typed Wrigley in the search box and the first hit was Wrigley Field, Chicago. I now have it set as a favorite. The temperature at Wrigley Field was one degree warmer than the temperature for Chicago in the default weather app. The search field can locate places in cities and not just cities themselves. The zip code search returned Chicago as a result, but it was the official Chicago weather station not the one closest to me. I’m looking forward to experiencing the alerts. I put flags out in front of my house each morning and can’t tell when it is light out. The sunrise alert in winter will be a big help for me.

#28 Weather Gods Data & Locations

App Developer

Hi Thomas,

I did a quick bit of digging on the data we use for Weather Gods and thought it might be useful:

We use IBM, The Weather Company Data as our prime data feed and blend this with data from Dark Sky.

This is what IBM have to say about their data:

http://www.theweathercompany.com/sites/default/files/downloads/twco-fact...

- We have more than 140 meteorologists who analyze and forecast the weather. Our meteorological team creates the most reliable, actionable weather forecasts with cutting-edge technology, best-in-class experts with unparalleled knowledge, and years of experience – all to help you enjoy your best day outside.

- We produce forecasts for 2.2 billion locations every 15 minutes.

- We power the weather for Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and more.

---------------

Weather Gods has a location database of over 2.8 million populated places. We also (as part of the wider search) search a database of another 7 million places to give access to places such as beaches, bay, estuaries, hills, mountains etc. We are pretty confident that combining our location database with the IBM forecasting system, we can pretty much provide a weather forecast for well over a million places, worldwide.

Currently, Weather Gods only provides hourly forecasts, but we are hoping to upgrade our data sources to IBM 15 day and 15 minute hourly, worldwide, depending on sales.

Apologies if this kind of post is not appropriate for the forum, I just thought it might be useful to your members.

#29 Notifications

App Developer

Just to clarify about the notifications - wherever we can provide a weather forecast the app will provide a notification.

We've tested notifications for many places (sadly not in person). The sunrise notification is a good one to try out as you can pick any place in the world and set a notification. Remember though, the notification for sunrise happens at just before the local time for the place. So, if the place is a different time zone then the notification is sent for sunrise, as it corresponds to that time zone, if that makes sense.

For example, if you live in New York and have relatives in Sydney, Australia, then if you set a sunrise notification for your relatives then you will know when it happens for their time, which might be later afternoon the previous day for your time.

#30 Notifications

I set a notification for a real time sunrise notification for Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Weather Gods app was active in the app switcher using iOS 10.1.1 and an iPhone 7. No sunrise notification occurred this morning though.

#31 Notifications

App Developer

hi Kelly,

Sorry to hear you didn't get your notification.

I see from the app that sunrise for your location is about 6:44 am, which would mean the notification being sent about 6:15 am.

Do you have the do not disturb feature switched on covering this time?

Also, did you have the app open during this time? Notifications wont show up if the app is actually open - it's fine to be in the task switcher but if they are open then you wont see them.

We can also check that notifications are working for that location by picking something like the wind notification and leaving the trigger value low at 1-3 mph. That one should show up quite quickly.

#32 E-mail Address

The e-mail address the developer posted, feedback@weathergodsapp.com, returned a DNS error from Gmail. This means that Google could not find weathergodsapp.com in the master domain server directory, making it unable to deliver any e-mail address with this domain. The message from Google is:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

feedback@weathergodsapp.com

Technical details of permanent failure:
DNS Error: 144690495 DNS type 'mx' lookup of weathergodsapp.com responded with code NXDOMAIN
Domain name not found: weathergodsapp.com

#33 Email Address

App Developer

Sorry Kelly, can you try again please.

We had a temporary problem with our email server, which I've now resolved.

#34 Weather apps

I love weather apps in general, so I'll be giving this one a try. Thank you for making it accessible, and for actively seeking input from the community.

#35 Great app

Hi:
When I saw great reviews on this form for the app, I decided to get it and I am enjoying it so far. The sounds add a nice touch to the experience. However, the rain sound sounds like rain is hitting a plastic bag. lol Anyhow, it would be great to see severe weather alerts in the future and be able to get notifications of when things are happening as close to the event as possible. If I understand correctly, even when you turn on rainfall notification and set it to "as it happens," it pushes the alert 15 minutes earlier. Once again, great work on the app.

#36 Love this app

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

This is useful, informative and fun, and very accessible, so thanks for making it and posting about it here. The sound effects are a very nice touch. I have a couple of suggestions:

1. Expanding the sunrise/sunset times: I noticed that during the day, it told me what time sunset would be, and when I downloaded the app late last night I could access the sunrise time. At the moment it's telling me the sun has set but unless I'm missing it, doesn't show the time of sunrise tomorrow morning (is that because it only shows it if it's less than a certain number of hours away?) so my suggestion is for the app to display both sunrise and sunset times at once, and to maybe also show this data for future dates.

2. When setting notifications for a weather event, could we also have the option to be notified when the event ends? For example, having the app notify you when it stops raining as well as when it starts? Or does it do this already? As I said, I only downloaded the app last night, so I haven't extensively tested all of its features.

Thanks

#37 Notifications

As suggested, I set up a wind speed notification. The wind was 11 mph at the time I set it up and it is now 15 MPH. The threshold for the category I chose was 13 MPH. I received no notification. My location is Wrigley Field in Chicago. Nothing on my phone is set for do not disturb.

#38 Wind Speed

I just received my wind speed notification a few minutes ago. I liked how the notification said how long the higher wind speed would last.

#39 Rainfall Alert

App Developer

Hi Ka Yat Li

Thanks for the feedback, severe weather alerts are on our feature list.

The reason for pushing the rain alert 15 minutes early was to give some notification in case you needed to change your plans, fetch in the washing in, grab an umbrella, take cover etc

#40 Love this App

App Developer

Hi LC3249

Thanks for the feedback.

To answer your questions:

1. Sunrise and sunset times are available on a day by day basis via the Fire God. To find out tomorrows, you would need to select tomorrow in the main screen and then open the Fire God. Once you are there, you can just tap through the days to hear the sunrise and sunset times for each day - it updates the data as you tap each day.

2. Each notification (where applicable) lets you know when the event will end e.g. Light rain from 10am for a couple of hours or Heavy snow from 2pm for the rest of the day. Hopefully that gives you the information you need

#41 Wind Speed

App Developer

hi Kelly,

Thanks for letting me know that you got the wind speed notification. I'm still thinking over why you didn't get the sunrise notification and have my suspicions that there might be a small bug lurking, depending on when the app manages to connect to a network and check its data.

We have a new release in the next 5-7 days and I'm going to make a few tweaks to notification handling.

#42 Thanks

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Thanks for your very quick reply. It's great that you're so responsive to questions and suggestions and committed to keeping the app accessible.

#43 Thanks

App Developer

You're welcome. I try to be as responsive as I can, although it can be challenging because I'm in the UK.

#44 So am I

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

I'm in the UK, too. By the way, I noticed that your app gives me a more precise location than I get using the iOS default weather app in the same place. Great replacement for Apple's stock app and comprehensive reference on what is supposedly every British person's favourite topic of conversation.

#45 So am I

App Developer

LOL, totally agree about the weather being our favourite topic - will be interesting to see how the app performs with our sometimes very variable British winter :)

#46 Vorail and weather gods

I just let know vorail a voice social network with many blind and low visual sight about this nice and easy app. I encourage all to check the podcast made by apple to see if they like and if so get it.

#47 Vorail and weather gods

App Developer

That's great, thanks Holger!

#48 Comparing WG Alerts to Weather Channel

I have both the Weather Gods app and the Weather Channel app configured for live alerts. Chicago experienced rain and thunderstorms today. I received a notification on my locked screen from WC at 11:07 reporting a lightning strike four miles west of my location. I then received a notification from WC at 11:30 saying that rain was coming to my area and would arrive at 11:46. At 11:46, WG finally sent a notification saying that rain and thunderstorms are starting and would last for the next few hours. I am in a big building during the day so I don’t know when the rain actually started or when I herd thunder. It does seem funny that WG sends the rain and thunderstorm alert at the exact same minute that Wc said it would rain. Unlike another person in the forum, I like to be warned of rain before it starts. WG also did not send a sunrise notification this morning.

#49 Comparing WG Alerts to Weather Channel

App Developer

hi Kelly,

Thanks for the feedback.

To answer your queries:

1. We don't notify for lightning strikes currently.
2. The Weather Channel use the 15 minute feed from IBM, whereas we use the hourly feed, which is why they warned that it would start at 11:46.
3. We warn 15 minutes before the event so our notification would have said from midday ?

I'm not sure why you're not getting the sunrise notification and I can only apologise.

We have been tweaking the notifications over the last couple of days and are just running a new build past our beta testers. If all goes well then I will upload to the App Store tomorrow and hopefully it will be with you for Monday.

We did find some bugs, including a serious bug that meant the notifications were delayed for some time if at the time of checking the weather, the network was not available or the connection was poor. That one has been fixed in the upcoming release.

We also found that our threshold for rain warning (not storms) was 70% chance, which is probably on the high side. That has been fixed and the threshold set to 45%

Please keep feeding back as it means we can deliver a better weather app for all of the community.

#50 Meters per second

Hello all, and particularly the developer!

I purchased Weather Gods this morning, and I've liked it so far, although I haven't been able to use it very much yet. My question is related to the wind speed units. Would it be possible to include meters per second to the options? It would really make sense for users in many countries. I am from Finland myself and here all forecasts use always meters per second as the wind speed unit. It is doable to estimate the wind speed somehow using the kilometers per hour option, but it would be really nice to have meters per second.

Thanks!

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