Long time iPhone users may remember a lot of fuss over an app named Clear. It was released several years ago now, and was repeatedly described as one of the most attractively designed apps of its time, bringing life and colour to the relatively dull world of to-do lists. However, for all its good looks and clever gesture controls, it wasn’t all that exciting. Weather apps can also suffer the same fate. Pretty to look at, but ultimately a bit dull.
We’re looking at an app named Weathercube, which isn’t a new release, but has just been given a substantial update. Weathercube has a lot in common with Clear, in that it’s a minimalist, design-focused, and gesture controlled app. The latest version adds in support for the Pebble smartwatch, so the current weather is displayed on the wearable’s tiny screen.
We’ll start with a look at the main app on the iPhone. It opens with a tutorial, taking new users through the gesture controls. The main screen looks a little like a Windows Phone home screen, if all the Live Tiles were a single colour. Your location is displayed at the top, and if you give the app permission, it’ll list your upcoming appointments stored inside the calendar below it. The grid of six tiles underneath show the current weather, the temperature, wind speed, rainfall, cloud coverage, and humidity level.
Tap each one and the tile revolves like a cube, showing a detailed breakdown for the morning, afternoon and evening. Swipe the entire page to the left and you advance a day, swipe from the top down to see a weekly view, and from the bottom up to see an hourly forecast for the day. It’s intuitive, easy to remember, and the animation is flawless. Weathercube also shows the weather for multiple cities, and these are accessed by swiping on the city name at the top of the page.
There are two, more complex gestures to learn too. A vertical “open” movement with two fingers, like a reverse pinch, reveals the settings page where you can change how the temperature is displayed, add more cities, or access the advanced settings. Horizontally pinch the main screen apart and you’re given the option to share the current weather over Twitter or Facebook.
Weathercube is extremely well made, and very simple to use, even for those who’re wary of gesture controls. There are even quirky little audio effects when activating them, just for extra fun. It’s let down slightly by not showing the current time on the main weather screen for each city. It’s perhaps also not quite so good for an “at a glance” weather forecast, which is why the standard iPhone weather app works so well. However, is this issue solved with the addition of Pebble support?
Once you find the Weathercube Pebble app inside the Pebble app store – the search function is very poor, and I eventually had to find the app from Weathercube’s website – it has to be installed on the watch. For it to work, the app also has to be running on your iPhone, much like the Pebble app itself. Once the pair are synced up, the Pebble watch face shows the time, date and your location, plus the current weather and temperature. It’s definitely “glance-able,” and fits in with the style of the primary app.
It’s not particularly inspiring to look at though. The Pebble watch has some amazing watchfaces, and it’s tough to choose this one over some of the flashier ones. It’s not ugly, but it’s just not very exciting to look at. However, if you just want the information, without any garnish, it does the job very well. Cleverly, the watch app makes use of the Pebble’s gyroscope, and a flick of the wrist provides a list of the day’s appointments.
If you own a Pebble, the Weathercube app provides an information rich, if slightly restrained, weather experience on your wrist. It’s great to see developers embracing the Pebble this way, and Weathercube’s execution ranks above some of the better known app combos, such as Foursquare. At the moment, Weathercube is free to download for a limited time, and is a great addition to your collection. If there is a Pebble smartwatch on your wrist, then consider the whole package an essential download.