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Hyperlocal, Hyper-fast Weather

This article originally appeared on FreeAssociation.is

Hello, my name is Caley Jack Steward and I am a weather app-aholic. I grew up in the extreme climates of central Minnesota, where our lives revolved around weather reports on TV and in the paper. Since then, I’ve watched technology drive change and growth in our understanding of weather patterns – and how to share them.

Needless to say when Apple opened up iOS to developers in 2008, I was drawn to the plethora of weather apps that emerged. Every app had a slightly different approach and a different set of data, all with a varying degrees of accuracy. Eventually some apps were able to localize the weather down to specific coordinates as opposed to the nearest weather station.

Dark Sky by Forecast was the one that opened my eyes to the increasing relevancy of weather data that was starting to emerge. It was an amazing experience to look at Dark Sky predictions when ominous weather was on the horizon because more often than not, the predictions were spot on.

What more could a weather fiend like myself want? Well there was one thing that was becoming an obvious pain point–speed. Whether it was a web or native app, they were all slow. This was especially true when I was out and about utilizing my carrier’s data network over 3G (or god forbid Edge), the fastest available for iPhone 4 at the time. Now speed is not a big deal when checking the weather, but when you have access to hyperlocal weather data that is updated every minute – like Forecast does – it’s still a real pain-point for me.

So this summer, equipped with the Forecast API, I started building a faster, hyperlocal web app, Weatherz. I chose the web platform because of its ubiquity over various devices. Now there are many valid arguments that say web apps will never be as fast as native apps. However, I believed that if a web app was simple enough it could be indistinguishable from a native app. This is exactly the approach I took.

Weatherz uses your geolocation, makes a request to Forecast, displays the results, and nothing more. Of course this means Weatherz lacks many of the features of other apps, but when you can go from tap to relevant in 2 seconds with a mountain of hyperlocal weather data, that is impressive. It will not help you plan a trip to Costa Rica, but it will help with your commute, running errands, and other outdoor activities.