February 04, 2013

‘Sun’ Shines as New, Free Weather App

There is a new, free weather app for the iPhone (NewsAlert) and iPad called Sun: users pinch and swipe to get content, is relatively simple to use and is impressive looking.

The designer and developer is Jakob Henner, who was a student at the University of Copenhagen. He came up with a Web app coded in HTML5, rather than a native iOS app (Apple’s (News Alert) own operating system).

“Guess I can consider myself a real designer now,” Henner said in a blog post about Sun.

An early review from one user was very direct and positive. Matias Vad said, “Looking good, nice and simple!” Also, Jim Ramsden commented that it was, “Beautiful. Love it even more that it’s Web-based.” It continued to get praises.

“While many users have tweeted about how much they love the design of Sun, Jakob’s the first to admit it’s not perfect,” reported Digital Arts Online.

“I didn’t nail it one hundred percent,” he admitted. “Many users don’t realize you can pinch in to reveal a 10-day forecast or pinch out to get an overview of all cities. I removed the tutorial from the first version, as it simply wasn’t elegant. Adding a tutorial is easy, but lazy – so I’ll have to find some natural signifiers [in a future version].”  

The biggest challenge for him was coding gesture-based interactions. It took some time. It is also noteworthy that the Sun website tells visitors to add the site to their home screen. If they do not follow the instruction, they will not access the weather – given the way the code works.

“It’s only when you do this, releasing the Web app from the beveled control strips of Safari, that you can access the weather,” Digital Arts Online explained. In fact, only a single line of JavaScript is used to test “whether the user is accessing the site in a standalone app on iOS or in Safari – effectively blocking out everything but iPads and iPhones.”

But it is clear that the end result offers users more via HTML5. “It’s not that I didn’t like the current crop of weather apps as much as I would like to show the HTML5 capabilities of iOS,” Henner said in a statement to Digital Arts Online.

Digital Arts Online was also impressed by the app. “Sun’s features and functionality are as stripped back as its look,” the review said. “You swipe horizontally to move from your current location to find the temperature and weather from three others – with a neat 3D effect like spinning a wooden block. A pinch reveals weather at all four locations at once. A two-fingered swipe down reveals a ten-day forecast with an elegant graph of temperatures in the days to come.”

In another review from Macgasm, “This free, and insanely minimal, weather application from has pinch, swipe and umbrella functionality… It grabs the weather from Yahoo’s weather services, and it lets you add and change your cities information as you see fit. If the city is listed on Yahoo, then it’s accessible from Sun… If you love it, you can add it to your home screen.”

So it looks like the new Sun app basically shines as it tells you if the sun will shine tomorrow.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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