Most weather forecast apps rely on strategically placed meteorological data acquisition sites, and the reports generated from the data by government meteorologists. These cookie-cutter reports are then made available to commercial forecasters like The Weather Channel. And that is why all major forecasts for a given area tend to sound the same.
For example, to create a weather forecast for Oakland, commercial weather forecasters rely on data from Oakland International Airport. Despite the fact that Oakland consists of everything from low mountains, to parched open range, to seashore — and therefore has several weather systems, all happening at the same time — when you ask for Oakland’s forecast through most commercial services, you’ll get the forecast for Oakland Airport, not the region as a whole — but PRESENTED as if it is for the city as a whole.
One weather forecast developer, Dark Sky, does not merely parrot the government’s weather forecast. This developer uses a vastly greater number of meteorological data sources, along with real time weather reports from its users, to provide truly localized forecasts.
When you request their forecast for Oakland, you’ll get the one that is applicable to your zip code. Dark Sky’s forecasts are usually at odds with the commercial sites, and they are far more accurate.
This excellent service may not last. Last year, Dark Sky was purchased by Apple, who want to reduce their reliance on hardware sales by diversifying into “essential” software services for their iOS and Mac platforms. (Think of Google and their industry leading search engine, or Adobe and its Photoshop app, a must-have for designers.) All these giant developers want to upgrade the value of their platforms by providing them exclusively with the “killer apps” their customer base considers essential.
Apple have their own in-house weather app, but the originators of Dark Sky rewrote the book by using multiple data sources, plus real-time user reports, to disrupt the comfortable, unreliable, outsourced weather forecasts.
Apple have made an investment in its bottom line by purchasing this young developer and thus acquiring the best product in its class, as well as bringing onto staff some of the most creative software designers in the business.
But will current Dark Sky customer be as well served as before? Highly unlikely at this juncture. Word has it, next year, Apple may make Dark Sky unavailable to Android developers, in the hope of providing iPhone customers with the only device that runs the new Dark Sky.
And unquestionably, Apple will choose to monetize this valuable product either by raising its current $3.95 subscription fee, or by advertising and who knows what else. Chances are, today’s users will miss the “old” Dark Sky.
So here we have a clear conflict of interest between a developer’s desire to have exclusive rights to a killer app for the sake of adding value to their hardware products; squared off directly against the end user’s desire to have a weather app that runs on the platform they currently use, and is not cluttered by ads or extorted by high subscription fees.
By co-opting the creativity of an emerging software developer, Apple acquires an income source in its own right as new products emerge; plus a motivator to buy the Apple hardware these services will run on exclusively; and finally, add value to the developer’s overall perceived value because it offers something important its competitors can’t match. Apple did not have to ponder the long game vs. the short game when designing their acquisition plan for Dark Sky. They were going to have it both ways.
Just as important, Apple will have turned potential competitors into assets. By buying the company, Apple gets the services of industry-leading engineers; and rather than let the marketplace bid for their product, Apple will effectively have monopoly control over the software, and the freedom to come up with a development strategy for future products whose primary beneficiary will be Apple.
And so we have another corporate King Kong style snap-up of a promising new developer whose best talents will be repurposed to further Apple’s agenda.
Due to this strategy of strangling up-and-comers in their cribs before they become a threat, diversity and genuine competition in the tech sector is increasingly stymied with each passing year.
This reality suits the top players, because effectively they own the industry at this point and are investing their surplus trillions to create a virtual monopoly: a bevy of billionaires who are more colleagues than competitors, where a few obscenely rich owners are able to subvert up-and-coming competitors like Dark Sky simply by buying them out. Or, if a fledgling developer refuse to cooperate, the Industry Giant would refuse to include their apps in their product lineup, bad-mouthing these ungrateful upstarts by saying their apps do not comply with the company’s quality standards, and other slanders.
And so we are left with a half-dozen monster developers, each of whom monopolizes its own sector of the tech market, and United in their hostility toward emerging competitors who could threaten their hegemony — as well contempt toward government regulators who they expect to be a rubber stamp for their unending acquisition of product and talent, to the detriment of all computer users, and the ever-higher valuations of these developers’ corporate worth.
The time has come to break up the tech monopolies before they become too powerful to be controlled by federal regulators and impervious to market trends. These companies’ common agenda is to dictate the future, where technology’s presence in every facet of life conforms with the developers’ corporate agendas.
Update: 8-29-2021 - we are currently experiencing the fury of hurricane Ida in Baton Rouge. Dark Sky is showing the wind speed as 22 mph (vastly understated). The trees are bending over and debris is flying all over the place. Yeah, this app is utterly worthless. It’s time to delete this app.
This app used to be fairly accurate in forecasting the weather. The micro location forecasts have always been a joke, because they are almost never accurate. But, the forecast for the next day was usually fairly accurate. Sometime back – I don’t remember when – it started to be inaccurate. The new update is not laid out well. They did away with the one thing that set this app apart from many other weather apps – a concise and user-friendly layout.
Dark sky can be used with the locations on or off. On, it will tell you the reported rain in your physical location and send you notifications. With the locations off, it will allow you to set a specific location by zip code and report the weather forecast for that region up to ten days in advance. Of course you can use the app both ways. By using the zip code (city/state) Dark Sky can help you plan travel with surprising accuracy.
One of the more unique and entertaining feature is the ability to time travel back in time and check weather conditions in the past. Trying to remember if last year was hotter or snowier than this year? Trying to remember when that big storm hit? Just curious about what the weather was like on your birthday? Dark Sky can tell you.
I’ve heard so many great things about this app for years. I finally bit the bullet and paid for it and I’m bummed I did.
I think the UI needs to be thrown out and started from the ground up. As well as it used to give notifications down to the minute when it would rain/stop raining. I still get notifications but it’s not nearly as specific or accurate.
If this app was free I’d give it 2 stars. I regret paying for this. I agree with recent comments, the app used to be amazing and well worth the money but not anymore.
Purchased this app based on positive reviews. The app is nice and well laid out. The big issue issue is the forecast data. Today is yet another example where the wind in the app says 12 and it’s blowing 25 plus. Had another occasion where it said 6 to 8 MPH and the waves were 6 to 8 feet off of Martha’s Vineyard. Not sure where their weather info comes from but it’s border line dangerous and misleading for boaters.
This app used to be terrific and much better than the other weather apps. Sober the past few months the reliability has decreased dramatically. Twice in the last week the “forecast” was no precipitation and it was raining heavily while I was looking at that forecast. Even worse now. Says “no precipitation” and it’s pouring and severe thunderstorm warning all over every other app and on tv
I have been using Dark Sky for about 12 to 15 years after having read about it in MIT Tecnology Review. I was very excited when i located it on my phone & installed it. Now it’s one of the constants in my lifel
It’s now quite a few years later & i still depend on & use it daily & many times daily when the weather is not so great. Keep up the great work Dark Sky!
For a paid app which purports to provide forecasts keyed to a precise location, too often it’s wrong. As in sitting outside a restaurant, thankfully under an awning, looking at a summer downpour when DarkSky says cloudy.
Obviously forecasting weather is tricky but the hope was that for a little $, DarkSky would be better. So, still using Accuweather for a 2nd opinion.
It seems like this app is a bit over-hyped. It’s good, and better than the alternatives I’ve found, but doesn’t have some of the great features previous apps like the original wunderground app had. For example it doesn’t have wind speed maps or allow you to dive deeper into a bunch of other data. It is very accurate though, especially with its “hyper local” feature.
This weather app is amazing. Love the fact that it can get weather down to the specific address. It does need improvement when it comes to patches of rain. It won’t notify when a rain cloud is over you until it actually happens. Apples weather app told me it would rain at that particular time. Just the only thing it needs to improve on.