Notification Weather

The release of Android 4.1 and 4.2 Jelly Bean brought several improvements to the handling and functionality of notifications. With expandable, actionable and prioritized notifications, developers can manage their apps and take control of what goes on when a notification is presented to the user. Notification Weather, as the name implies, takes advantage of the new notification options in Jelly Bean to elegantly present the weather to you when you drop down the pane.

It seems like everyone's got a favorite weather app loaded on their device already, so does Notification Weather have what it takes to become your new favorite? Read on past the break and see what this one has to offer.

Let's get this out of the way from the start: Notification Weather is only available to users with devices running Android 4.1 and above. At first glance that's a bit of a let down considering the vast majority of users are still on 4.0 and below (mostly 2.3 still,) which means the potential audience for this app is severely diminished.

This isn't just an arbitrary restriction though -- this app really gains its appeal by working with the latest in Jelly Bean features and just wouldn't give the same impression to a user on Gingerbread.

Look and feel

Notification Weather Expanded Notification Weather Collapsed

The design of Notification Weather is most certainly focused to fit in with the Jelly Bean aesthetic. The stark, white on black and minimalist layout fits perfectly in the notification bar of a stock Android 4.2 device -- in this case my Galaxy Nexus -- as if it was part of the stock software. The weather display is simple but barely configurable, split into two rows. The top shows your current location, the last data sync time, a nice weather icon and the current temperature, high/low forecast and wind speed. The refresh button on the right... refreshes. The bottom is a 4-day forecast with the same icon and high/low temperature layout.

The app has a fully expanded notification (left screenshot above) by default, a new feature as part of Jelly Bean, but can also be collapsed to show just a small version of the same information. The smaller notification (right screenshot above) shows just the icon on the left side with your location, temperature and description of the weather next to it. It's good to see both types of notifications offer you a good set of information. This is basically everything you'd be getting out of any regular weather app or widget, but now it's pinned in your notification bar.

The fact that the notification fits so nicely in with every other system app and notification on a stock Jelly Bean device is what makes this app usable for me. If it stood out more, was overly flashy or busy I wouldn't find it useful enough to have it take up the room of 1 or 2 notifications at all time. Because it's so simple, you can easily ignore it and get to your other notifications if you want to.

Settings and features

Settings menu Refresh Interval

When opening the app from its icon in the app drawer, you're taken directly into the settings menu. There's no way to access the weather the app provides other than from the notification pane -- settings is all you get. The settings are simple, again following holo design perfectly, with everything you'd want or expect in a basic weather app. You can simply enable or disable the notification's display, have your location auto-detected or set one manually and choose either Celsius or Fahrenheit for the temperature. For a data refresh interval you get a wide range -- from 10 minutes to 8 hours -- to choose from, although a conservative 2 hours is set as default.

There are three different weather data providers to choose from -- Yahoo! Weather, Open Weather Map and World Weather Online are your only choices at the moment. Open Weather Map is a good one to see represented, as it often has data available for some of the smaller towns and cities that many of the big providers skip over. It would be nice to see more options available, but there are likely licensing and API call limit problems to deal with that keep the list limited.

Settings Menu cont. Icon Settings

You can choose whether or not to display the full 4-day forecast under the current weather (which would turn it into a single-high notification,) although I'd be surprised if you didn't keep it displayed. The app respects the system setting for 12- or 24-hour clock display by default, but you can toggle it to change if you prefer. By default the app will start on device boot, but you can turn this setting off as well -- a little nod to the power users that like to manage their auto-starting processes.

The most interesting -- and mildly confusing -- settings of the whole lot have to do with the notification icon and the notification priority. In the former, you can set it to display an icon of the current weather condition, the current temperature, a transparent icon or no icon whatsoever. For the latter, you can select from a range -- maximum, high, normal, low, minimum -- of priorities that control how high up the notification pane the weather should appear. For example, "Maximum" will keep the weather pegged at the top, and "Minimum" will let it be pushed down by a newer notification. It reminds me of the settings in Google Now, which let you choose whether to make certain cards display notifications and at what priority level. When setting the app to display no icon it overrides the priority setting you chose, which leads me to believe there's no simple way in Android to turn off a notification icon without changing the priority it reports to the system. Similar apps that need to remove the icon often require root in my experience.

That being said, there seems to be some discrepancy between the way the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 -- both running Android 4.2 -- handle the priorities. Between our resident neckbeard Jerry Hildenbrand and I, our devices are acting differently. When using the "No Icon" setting, my weather is being pushed down as a low priority notification. Jerry and the Nexus 4 are seeing the weather stay up top. We're not sure what the differences are, but it's definitely something to note. If you plan on keeping the notification and "Maximum" priority, it should act the same regardless of device.

The verdict

Android Central

If you've got a device running Android 4.1 or higher -- especially a Nexus with the stock variety -- and you're already using a notification weather app, there's no reason not to spend the $1.02 and take this one for a test drive. For anyone who's not been interested in other weather apps because of their off-putting design that clashes with the stock Android look-and-feel, Notification Weather may be worth a look to see if you can live with it.

There are some issues, such as limited settings and questionable weirdness with notification priorities, but there's nothing here that is big enough of an issue as to detract from the overall great design of this app. If you're still on the fence, at least give the free version (with fewer settings) a try and if you like it, toss the developer a dollar for their great work. Notification Weather is a great example of how developers should be keeping up with the latest in Android design.

 
There are 39 comments

gdbusby says:

This is exactly the weather notification I would want! Consider it purchased! Thanks for the review and pointing us in the right direction. My Note thanks you as well.

GreyCelt says:

Meh... I tried out the free version & I wasn't impressed. It was a little bit too basic for me. I also had the issue where the weather notification bar kept bouncing up and down in my notifications...very annoying and distracting.

benurd says:

+1 unfortunately...

Floss82 says:

Bought the paid version and looks great:)

I gave it a good try, and really liked the look of it. However, it got to where it wouldn't update the weather and temperature, even when tapping the refresh symbol. I'll stick with Beautiful Widgets.

ro1224 says:

I own it and it's great for the most part. Biggest problem is when it doesn't connect for purposes of updates; when updates lag behind set refresh parameters in settings and when the application fails to start on boot as instructed. The developer of this app is very very responsive to feedback, so I'm sure any current concerns will eventually be worked out. IMHO, it's well worth the $1.02 investment.

dancing-bass says:

I have used the Free version in the past. No real complaints, and I must admit its minimalistic look appeals to me, but after bouncing between Accuweather (free) and WeatherBug (free), I think I've finally settled down on WeatherBug. Some of the weather apps/widgets that work well in the U.S. or in larger cities in Canada fall apart if you're in a more rural area. Not so with WeatherBug.

Who knows, I might come back to it later. My setup tends to fluctuate somewhat from lots of eye candy, widgets and icons everywhere, to clean and minimalistic.

E_man says:

I'd use a lockscreen widget like that. I like my notification panel to be clear of permanent notifications.

What I'd really like is a weather widget that gets its updates over SMS. To conserve battery, I usually leave data off on my phone when I'm not using it, but I'd like to be able to check the temperature quickly (on the lockscreen if possible). As it is, I need to enable data, wait for it to come live and then manually refresh my weather widget to get the current temperature. i.e. useless, unless I happen to be using the data radio already. I guess all that SMS activity would cost *somebody*. Maybe the carriers could provide the service, since SMS costs them less than all the updates over 3/4G are costing them now...

JohnnyPre says:

https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNWS/subscriber/new

That link gives you SMS Weather updates.

Well nice of the government to provide the SMS updates. What I need now is a widget that will listen for them. Does android have a way forcan app to 'subscribe' to an SMS service? That'd be perfect.

There are apps that auto send and receive short codes to check carrier's reports of minutes, data and text usage out there. So the ability is there, someone just has to make it.

Still think this is a pretty fringe case, as most people are keeping data on while the phone is sleeping... most want to receive other updates like email, twitter, etc. also.

If you're regularly turning your phones screen on/off (like more often than every 15min) it's actually easier on a phone's battery to just keep data on and letting the system properly idle usage. An idle data connection doesnt really consume that much power, but constantly connecting/disconnecting drains quite a bit (not to mention that you get no backround updates from apps.)

Danrarbc says:

I'm pretty sure SMS uses more power than data because the radio isn't in a powersaving state to send or receive them.

I've had my eye out for a weather app as nice as WTHR/Weather Dial for iOS. After getting this app iI couldn't be more pleased. This looks better and displays more info than WTHR and integrates better with Jelly Bean than WTHR does with iOS. Lemme look at it again... Yeah, beautiful!

davidnc says:

I like it for a change.It doesnt bounce around on my notifications.If set to high priority its at the top low priority its on the bottom.

I dont use lockscreens of any style on my phones ,ha

mtmerrick says:

Why do I need this? Google Now already puts the weather in my notification...

wpavlik2 says:

I thought that was what this article was talking about to start with.
I used to use WeatherBug, but I prefer letting Google Now handle it.

homonaut says:

Agreed. And if you have something like 1Weather, Google Now is even 'nice' enough to let it handle it. But even before I grabbed 1Weather, Google Now was more than awesome for this.

jimbo says:

Agree. Moreover, we get special alerts only when critically necessary.

cobrakon says:

*Sigh* this is a native feature webOS had long ago and Android is only now getting it. HP, what a bunch of bafoons. :/

Yay for Android though. That feature is one of my favs of webOS.

Danrarbc says:

webOS came with weather?

PJMAN2952 says:

Why isn't it compatible with my HTC One S? I would love to buy it.

JobiWan144 says:

Just so you know, the link says "Download this app from the Android Market" (on mobile, anyway). Something doesn't done quite right about that.

olorin says:

Would that be South Hill Washington? Funny enough, I live in Tacoma, but all the weather services want to place me in South Hill.

South Hill, WA indeed. Most weather (and other location) services like to peg me in other places like Bonney Lake, Graham, Puyallup, etc. instead though :P .

olorin says:

That's Ironic, since I can't go anywhere on the south end without being pegged as South Hill! Funny...

wezra says:

Am not sure what you all are taking about with this app. I have a brand new GS3 on T-Mobile running 4.1.1 and this app is horrible! First of all, the live notification in the notification bar is so small you need a microscope to read it. It is totally useless. Secondly, when you drag the bar down all you get is a graphic that looks like a 3 year old put it together. I hope this isn't the standard Android Central uses to judge a good app by. Seriously, it's a disgrace. I have no issue paying for apps in the marketplace that meet at least a minimum standard for design and usefulness. I in fact purchased the "pro" version of this app. One dollar is not a big deal by any means. In this case however it was a total waste of money. As for Android Central I'm not even sure why you would have wasted time reviewing this app... it must have been a very slow news day in the Android world. You would have been better served wasting ink on the "fiscal cliff" story!

thezymo says:

There seems to be an issue with this app and the Nexus 4.
Since installing the app on my Nexus 4 (stock 4.2.1) I got haptic feedback activated in the notification bar! Whenever I expand a notification like Gmail or the Notification Weather to see a 4 day forecast my Nexus 4 vibrates. Collapsing notification shows the same behavior. Uninstalling the app and even reseting my N4 didn't solve the problem. I still have vibrations/haptic feedbacks in the notification bar. Seems like I have to wait for google to release the image again so that I can flash my N4.

BTW: Does anybody else noticed that issue?

There's no setting anywhere to turn on haptic feedback in the notification bar, so there's only one thing i can assume is happening or is a coincidence. In Android 4.2 you can do a long press/drag gesture to expand notifications so that you dont always have to use a 2-finger swipe, and something is getting stuck (or youre doing it by accident) and it's vibrating as if you were doing that.

The fact that its happening when you've reset your N4 and uninstalled leads me to believe this is a coincidence, not the app causing it.

thezymo says:

Thanks for your reply. It vibrates even if I gently swipe over a notification, but there is no haptic feedback/vibration when expanding with 2 fingers. I also contacted the developer and strangely he noticed the same behavior on his Galaxy Nexus running CM 10.1, but not on the Nexus 7 running stock 4.2.1

blarelli says:

I had this on my galaxy nexus and it worked pretty well for a couple of days before it just quit working. If it worked, it would be the best weather app out there. However, on my phone it didn't despite multiple uninstall/reinstalls.

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mssca says:

Is this app have "feelslike", "wind chill" or "real feel" temperature? In Canada, it is very important to some of us since -19 C can actually feel like -25 C sometimes.

heathroi says:

Not a fan of the display in the drawer, i'd go for it if it was a widget. Have tried some the other weather apps and though the apps might be good, the widgets are usually too small or not quite.... right for me and i don't mind busy. Keep returning to beweather.

bearballz72 says:

Pretty decent app. But I like my HD widgets.

nickwn88 says:

Great app for the most part. Bought it about a month ago, but the update intervals are really weird (sometimes just will not update) and a lot of times it will not stay minimized even with the "full view" turned off.

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