Hello Weather Radar

There’s a new major version of Hello Weather1 available in the App Store. The main functionality of the app remains unchanged, but the presentation of the data has undergone a major redesign.

The presentation overall became much bolder and heavier, both in terms of typesetting as well as in the general design language. The page layout on the iPad now actually uses way more of the available screen real estate.

Prominent among the new features, Radar is supposed to provide users with historic cloud movements of the last couple of hours, overlaying a map of the respective region.

The important caveat: Radar is only available in the U.S., Canada, and Australia2.

The problem is that there is no visual indication in the UI that Radar doesn’t work for regions outside the supported list of countries.

In other words, if you’re located outside the supported countries you would still be provided with fully functional button in the toolbar at the bottom that takes you to a screen showing a fully functional map of your region.

A further (seemingly) fully-functional play button triggers the brief appearance of a progress bar, followed by a (seemingly) fully functional marker advancing a straight line from left to right. Here is a screenshot of the lower parts of the Radar screen:

Of course, this is a totally known pattern for playing a stream of video material. The problem is that nothing happens. Whatever the outside conditions, no moving cloud pattern would ever appear overlaying the map.

Why is the Radar button even active for users outside the U.S., Canada, and Australia? Why does the app give me the fake illusion that it is downloading actual data when this is not happening at all3?

Why does the app seemingly replay data on the map screen that simply do not contain any information?

As mentioned before, the whole feature is fan club only. So it seems safe to assume that there is a toolbar layout included that does not show the Radar button to non-members.

I, for sure, would be grateful for a setting to completely hide the Radar button from my copy of the app if it does not provide me with any benefit at all.

By the way, another slightly weird aspect of the Radar feature is that it is, at least at the moment, only limited to historic data of the last hours before now. Even for folks located in the U.S, Canada, and Australia there is no forecast of precipitation for your location available.

This represents a conceptual break from the behavior of the rest of Hello Weather that is entirely about forecast and does not show any historic information of the last day, or even the last hours.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like the app and will continue to use it happily. But the described behavior just seems silly and should be mitigated in one of the coming service updates, if you want my opinion.

  1. See my take on it. 
  2. This information can be obtained from the “what’s new” screen but not everyone reviews that one in detail. 
  3. Former versions of the app contained a setting that activated an experimental mode that was supposed to provide users activating this mode with a preview of stuff that may or may not come in future versions. This setting, however, is gone and could not be used as an excuse for the current implementation. 

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