Apple’s surprising move to purchase popular “hyperlocal” weather app Dark Sky and pull it from the Play Store left many Android users scrambling to find a replacement, and Overdrop may be the new app of choice for some. I recently spent some quality time with Overdrop (which incidentally still uses Dark Sky’s API as one of its weather service providers) and found it to be a promising though slightly flawed alternative.
Why “hyperlocal” and Dark Sky’s removal from the Play Store matter
Before I go into more detail about Overdrop, I’ll explain what the term “hyperlocal” refers to and why it makes the loss of Dark Sky to the Android community so significant. As defined by Wikipedia, and as applied to GPS-based mobile apps, it means the combination of constant mobile Internet access and constantly-running GPS location services provides the user with information that automatically updates based on where the user is located. In the case of weather apps, it means the current conditions and forecast will be different each time the user opens the app in a different location, and not just in a different city, but within it as well.
For a personal example, when I’m in inner-city Philadelphia the current temperature and temperatures forecasted will usually be warmer than when I’m in the suburbs, and if I travel to, say, Harrisburg and open my weather app there’s a good chance it’ll also show differences in cloud cover and precipitation. Dark Sky was certainly not the only hyperlocal weather app available to Android users but it was one of the most popular, which is why many Android users were stung by Apple’s actions. As my colleague Arol Wright described it in his article, Apple doesn’t necessarily pull an app from the Play Store every time they purchase the rights to it, which may indicate plans to integrate Dark Sky into its native weather app in a future iOS release.
Overdrop shows promise but could still use some improvement
As I previously mentioned, one of the biggest draws for Overdrop is that it still uses Dark Sky’s API as one of its weather service providers (at least until the API expires in 2022). This gives users almost another 2 years to find a suitable replacement weather service while still enjoying Dark Sky’s data in a different package. In that vein, Overdrop offers some attractive eye candy, both in its main app and in the many widgets that look straight out of the KWGT playbook. You can see the vivid presentation of weather data in the app in the gallery below.
By purchasing the Pro unlock, users get access to exclusive app themes, a total of 51 unlocked widgets, and the ability to choose AccuWeather as a service provider (the free version offers Dark Sky and Weather Bit as service providers). It is recommended to purchase the pro unlock from within the app, as it offers the option to subscribe for a month for $0.99 or a year for $2.49 whereas purchasing directly from the Play Store only offers a lifetime subscription for $8.99. The gallery below shows the themes available and how the app looks using my favorite theme “Space”.
As I previously mentioned, Overdrop Pro unlocks 51 KWGT-style widgets. The gallery below shows them all, and the one I chose for my homescreen.
I also had pointed out previously that I found some areas where Overdrop could use some improvement. My usual go-to app is Weather Underground, which lets you see hourly forecasts for each of the next ten days, while Overdrop only lets you see hourly forecasts for the next two days. Of course, Weather Underground has offered only one bare-bones 2×2 widget since its 6.x update, so that definitely outweighs the aforementioned hourly forecast limitation in my opinion. One other minor quibble I have is the lack of natural-looking weather icons in the widgets. While I’m a fan of Material Design, it’d be nice to see a natural-looking sun or moon or clouds on my homescreen widget. Nevertheless, I’m strongly considering making Overdrop my daily driver instead of Weather Underground (I’ve already bought the lifetime Pro subscription).
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