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Elecont's Weather vs. AccuWeather
on September 9, 2011
One of the apps I installed on my Xoom on 'day one' was AccuWeather. It was the best I could find at the time and, of course, it was free. AccuWeather comes with everything we learned to expect in a browser applet: there is the weather bug and it expands to a lot of detail: current weather, hourly forecast, 15 days forecast, multiple locations, maps with radar overlays, moon phases, alerts, weather trivia and so forth. Well... AccuWeather seems to be on its way out, to be replaced by Elecont's Weather app.
ACCUWEATHER vs. ELECONT's
Elecont must find a name for their app. Can't have something named "Weather, US Radar, Alerts, Quakes". It's true, this is what the app does but... seriously, think of a name.
They both provide the customary current/hourly/10-15 days foreasts, maps with radar overlays and weather alerts. AccuWeather has video forecasts and a 'lifestyles' section but Elecont adds 'earthquakes' and is not pushing commercials.
THE BUG (Elecont)
AccuWeather's one-size-fits-all bug looks better but Elecont's wins by offering highly customizable widgets in just about any size from 1x1 up to 4x4. You can pick the type of info to be displayed, the type of bug, including Elecont's rather unique weather clock display, colors, transparency, even the frequency of updates.
AccuWeather was 'always there' as far as I can tell. This may be a fluke but one of Elecont's 2 alternative sources for weather information, Intellicast, was not available during my first day of using the app. To be fair, the second provider, Foreca was available and it was easy to 'ignore' Intellicast once I learn how to operate the app but the fact remains that Intellicast generating errors was annoying.
A plus for Elecont's is that it allows me to decide how often the weather info is to be updated and it's actually telling me how old the displayed info is. AccuWeather does not do that.
Access to information is at least as important as the ability to retrieve it and its presentation. I already noted that Elecont's bug can display more information than AccuWeather's and Elecont's is clearly superior when the actual apps interfaces are compared.
While AccuWeather is more or less a port of the traditional 'browser applet' with a little touch awareness added to it, Elecont's is one of the most innovative 'touch' interfaces I've seen so far. In Elecont everything is literally at my fingertips (or fingerprints :)). AccuWeather is basically a browser with half a dozen 'tabs' and within each tab window there's a finger-aware area where I can scroll through the 15 days or the 24 hours of forecasts because they don't all fit at once.
Each 'location' in Elecont's is hosted on three 'screens' - hourly, daily and ten-days - that you can flip right-left, the way you'd flip pages on an e-book. If you have different locations, you flip up/down. Objects on each screen display additional information when touched or tapped. The ten-day forecast, for example, shows precipitations, alerts, moon phases and hi-low temps for each day but, when a day is tapped, a lot more info is displayed for that specific day: precipitation chance, sun/moon rise and set, UV index, wind and so forth. It took maybe 15-30 minutes to familiarize myself with the interface but, once I learned it, there was no question for me that I preferred Elecont to AccuWeather.
I don't believe AccuWeather ever crashed on me. Elecont crashed a couple of times, always when I was looking at the map at high magnification with a radar overlay. AccuWeather seems to be using the same Google Maps but it doesn't allow me to zoom to Google's allowable 'max' and, while I don't believe it crashes, Elecant seems to load the maps faster and navigation is smoother. Until the map crashes.
OVERALL WINNER (Elecant)
Elecant wins because their app was designed for smart phones and tablets specifically and done so intelligently while AccuWeather's screams 'quick (from TV to) PC browser port'. Beside's its refreshingly innovative user interface, Elecant's app allows for far more flexibility in setup (both the bug and the app itself). Elecant's developers should be congratulated for their skills and creativity but they should continue work to improve the quality of 'presentation' - as in sharper icons and symbols and better looking weather bugs.
I was lucky to get Elecan't app for free (thank you Amazon) but, whenever I evaluate a 'free app of the day' I'm asking myself "knowing what I know now, would I actually pay to get this app?" In this case my answer is 'yes'. This is not a 'perfect' app but Amazon's standard for '5 stars' is not 'perfection'. 5 stars mean "I love it" and, by this standard, this is a 5 stars app.
Note on 'location":
It's unlikely that you can get a good GPS signal while indoors. Given that, the app is likely to rely on your IP address to determine location - it placed me 20 miles from where I was. Manually entering my ZIP code took care of it. It's possible that the 2 services (of which only one was running at the time I'm writing this review) don't cover every single ZIP code but I can only speak for my own experience.