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Paid vs. Free: Weather Apps

When you think about it, it’s kind of bizarre how many weather apps are out there. The number of ways to see if it’s raining later is a bit overwhelming. For that reason alone, I recommend that you do not buy a weather app. Plain and simple, don’t do it. The Weather Channel free app, for example, has everything you need: current temperature, radar, 10-day forecast, hourly forecast, and even a social feed that shows what people in your area are saying about the weather.

That being said, the new update on The Weather Channel (TWC) has really slowed down my device and it sucks the life out of my battery like an episode of Game of Thrones. Moreover, I can’t tell you how much I despise the overly dramatic push notifications they send: “River rats running wild, go indoors!” I end up just turning off the notifications.

Could it be time for change? Here are some weather apps both Paid and Free worth looking into.

1. AccuWeather (Free/$2.99) – iOS and Android - Rivaling TWC in free weather
app downloads is AccuWeather (TWC is #1; Yahoo! Weather #2; AccuWeather #3). Users rave about the accurate information and frequent refreshes on the app, making it a viable alternative. In all honesty, it’s the same thing as TWC with a different user interface.

Breakdown: Similar to The Weather Channel app. Definitely do not purchase the paid version.

AccuWeather on the left, The Weather Channel on the right. The differences are subtle.


2. WeatherBug (Free/$2.99) – iOS and Android - From briefly playing around on the app, it seems to have the same feature as TWC and AccuWeather, simply with a different look. Both the iOS and Android stores offer paid versions but unlike the two aforementioned, it offers more than just no ads. WeatherBug Elite offers more in depth weather information, including radar maps with multiple overlays (humidity, wind speed, dew point, etc.).

Breakdown: Free version for basic to intermediate weather information. $2.99 version for weather buffs. Unlike the paid version of Accuweather, WeatherBug Elite actually has some pretty good features. 

3. MyRadar – (Free/$1.99) – iOS and Android - Speaking of radar maps with overlays, MyRadar may be your best option. Developed by Aviation Data Systems, Inc, this app is designed by and used by pilots, so you know (or really hope) that the information you’re receiving is accurate. If you know a little bit more about weather and the science behind it (or want to learn) this is a good app for you. iOS offers a MyRadar Pro, the only benefit being no ads.

Breakdown: Free version for people who like and understand weather patterns. $1.99 version (iOS only) for people who don’t have time to bother with ads (like if you’re flying a plane).

4. InstaWeather (Free/$1.99) – iOSand Android - We all know about Instagram by now and this app takes it one step further by adding weather information instead of a filter. The idea is, you take a picture of the weather and then overlay it with the temperature and/or other weather info to share with your friends. A perfect app for making your friend in Buffalo feel bad about you spending the week in Hawaii.

Breakdown: Free version offers 9 skin overlays for your pictures and has ads. $1.99 version offers 30 available skins (only 15 for Android) and no in app ads. 30 more skins for iOS users may just be enough to convince me into dishing out 2 dollars for the paid version.

Attention Android users! Keep in mind the widget functionality of these apps. Most of them display different information via either the notification bar or on screen widgets. If you want quick info, use your discretion to find what widget works best for you.

When it comes down to it, from the 5 weather apps I broke down, I don’t think there is one upgrade I would pay for. For me, having ads isn’t that big of a deal. The only time I pay for an app is when there are worthwhile additional features. In the case of weather apps, the features that you have to pay for in one app, are in a free version somewhere else. As always, do your research, read reviews and test drive some the free version.

What do you think about your go-to weather application? Did you pay for it?

As always, thanks for reading.

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