Best Alternatives to Dark Sky?

Dark sky used to be one of my most-recommended apps. It was simple, attractive and—most importantly—accurate. However, in the last year it seems the forecasts have gotten worse and worse.

This weekend it gave a zero percent chance of rain for a hike we had planned. While on the way to the trailhead, we got caught in a downpour. That storm lasted two hours. The entire time it showed zero percent chance of rain.

I know there’s something wrong with the product because often the forecasts on my Android are different from darksky.net or my iPad. The API should be giving the same data, but apparently that’s not the case.

After this experience and several similar ones. I cannot recommend Dark Sky because of it’s inaccuracy. What alternative weather apps should I look at?

I’ve started evaluating some Dark Sky alternatives, but I can’t say any of them are a particularly good replacement. The main things I care about are simplicity, attractiveness and accuracy. I’ve got a Pixel 3, so it must be an Android app. I’m sure there are better options for iOS.

Paid apps are preferred as long as that are not subscription. I’d rather pay $20 one-time than have the mental overhead to manage a $1.99 per year transaction. Free, ad-supported would be fine as well.

Weather Underground

Free ad-supported or $1.99/year to remove ads

Of the major weather apps, Weather Underground is probably the best. The app follows a tile layout. Most of the them can be reordered or removed. That’s a good thing, because most of the tiles add noise. The only ones I found worth keeping are the forecast, sunrise/sunset and air quality tiles.

The only problem with that system is that I’m not able to move the summary tile. I’d much rather see the forecast tile, which shows trends in temperature and precipitation at the top. The drill down and detail of that tile are fantastic.

I found the ads in the free version to be too intrusive. I’d gladly pay $10-$20 one-time for an ad-free Weather Underground. Unfortunately, the paid version is a subscription.

Hello Weather

Free or $4.99/year for Pro

I was hoping Hello Weather was going to be the one. At first glance the interface is both attractive and incredibly easy to read. The free version has no ads, which is incredibly generous of the developers.

Unfortunately, smaller weather apps like this are dependent on others for data. The free version uses the Dark Sky API, which I don’t trust. The precipitation numbers between the Dark Sky and Hello Weather apps are completely different.

The paid version is a subscription. It does allow you to change weather sources as well as includes notifications, radar, precipitation estimates and additional theme controls.

Carrot Weather

Free ad-supported or $3.99/year for Premium

A few people at work mentioned Carrot Weather, which is a quirky weather app. That’s easy to read. It has cute illustrations that change depending on the weather.

The app also has a dark sense of humor. As you can see the fake Hot Assasins in Your Area ad. You can change the personality from homicidal to overkill, snarky or friendly. It’s novel, but it is a bit unnecessary to me. All I want to know is if it’s going to rain and how hard. I know, I’m grumpy.

Like Hello Weather the default weather data is from Dark Sky. Paying for the subscription gets you more sources. I will say that at least the API both Carrot and Hello Weather are using seem to have the same data.


I still feel like I’m at a loss here. As much as I want to move away. I don’t think any of these are better than Dark Sky.

Dude, why don’t you just pay the $1.99 a year for Dark Sky? I get that you don’t want to manage subscriptions, but this is actually better. Think of all the interest you’ll earn by not pre-paying!

FWIW, I’ve got the paid iOS version and it works fine for me.

Haha, I know it’s ridiculous. I just don’t want another thing to manage.

For whatever reason I think Dark Sky for Android uses a different API. Maybe the free version uses a different API? Or maybe it caches information?

I’d be skeptical about using 3rd party weather apps. The Weather Channel app has already gotten in lawsuits over selling location data with advertisers.

Also, a ton of these apps are just poorly engineered. Even though it wasn’t malicious, weather underground was leaking location data in plain text.

In addition to these sorts of revenue-generating location-data leaks, Ars found some iOS applications using location data for legitimate purposes that were leaking location data in plain text API requests. For example, while Weather Underground’s Wunderground application passes a great deal of its data using TLS encryption, the app sends precise coordinates for latitude and longitude that could be used to calculate the app user’s position as part of an unencrypted HTTP request to the application’s server.

Well, I need some sort of weather app. Somebody is going to get some sort of data.

Definitely something to think about though.

OK, I’ve been testing these weather apps for almost a week.

Basically, all of them have been wrong—Dark Sky included. It’s summertime in Atlanta there are afternoon showers every day and nobody can predict when and where.

OK, I’ve finally got a solution to my weather app issues. I’m just going to use Google’s Weather applet.

It seems just about as accurate as Dark Sky, Weather Underground and other apps I’ve tried. As I said before, part of the issue is that it’s summer in Atlanta. The weather changes every 10 minutes.

Google Weather isn’t really an app, but an applet that can be saved to your Android homescreen. If you’ve ever searched for a city in Google, you’ve seen it.

The applet is fast and attractive. You don’t really notice that it isn’t a real app.

It’s also fairly easy to add the icon to your homescreen. Simply go to the Google search app or google.com and type weather. It should be the rich result box that appears at the top of the results.

Then hit the ellipsis (3-dot) menu and select add to homescreen.

An additional benefit of using the Google Weather applet is that I don’t have to worry about any additional companies tracking me. Google already knows where I am, and at least provides some value for that information.

So that’s it. I’m replacing the Dark Sky app with the Google Weather applet.

FWIW, if you have the generic Google widget on your homescreen you can click the weather there to open Google Weather. It also shows the date and upcoming events.

Yeah, that was pointed out to me by a co-worker. The touch area for that is a bit small, and I’m used to having a weather app in that place. It works for me.