Hands on: Dark Sky 3.0 lets you report your own weather

Clear skies may be boring, but I prefer them in the summertime. There are walks to take, picnics to have, and boardwalks to skate; none of those work very well in the rain. It's why I love Dark Sky, the Kickstarter-funded storm alert app. It's long been one of my most accurate weather apps, and version 3, which debuted on Tuesday, adds a few welcome features.

By nature, Dark Sky is designed to be relatively simple--you won't see seven-day forecasts and wind predictions here (turn instead to Dark Sky's sister app, Forecast.io); instead, the app focuses on hyperlocal 24-hour predictions based around your location.

Dark Sky has been U.S.-only since its inception, but version 3.0 brings support for the UK and Ireland, hopefully giving residents of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland some accurate rain, snow, and sleet prediction. (And let's be honest: They need it.)

You'll also see better longer term forecast data under Dark Sky's More tab; in addition to vague statements like "rain throughout the day," you'll get temperature predictions for the next three hours, afternoon, evening, and overnight. The data is still nowhere near the level of detail found in Forecast.io or similar weather apps, but it provides a nice addendum to the precipitation information--45° and raining requires very different clothing than 75° and raining, for instance.

Dark Sky 3.0's final new feature is a personal weather reporter, designed to further improve the app's already excellent weather data. Now, you can submit a personal weather report by shaking your iPhone or iPad and entering in data on the clouds in your area, precipitation, and the type of precipitation, along with an (optional) photo of the weather outside. It's not terribly complicated to submit--my own report took less than ten seconds--and it offers you some small retribution, should Dark Sky lead you astray. ("Sunny, you say! Just look at this hail, buster!")

Despite the move to 3.0, Dark Sky's precipitation notification system is surprisingly still in beta; but even so the notifications are still a great offering from the $4 app, especially if you live in an area prone to random bursts of precipitation.


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