Reviews Technology

Dark Sky Weather App Review

June 19, 2020

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Dark Sky Weather App Review

Dark Sky Weather App $3.99
4.7

Summary

After using Dark Sky for several months, I can unequivocally say that it’s my favorite paid weather app. It’s super easy to glance at the information I need to plan my rides, learn more with a couple of taps, and set up customized alerts and notifications. 

The app’s not perfect, though, since it’s only available for iOS devices. Furthermore, you have to permit the app to run full-time in the background if you want access to custom notifications, depending on your level of privacy concern. 

  • Price
  • Ease of Use
  • Accuracy
  • Functionality
  • Overall Value

Pros

  • Simple to use – just open the app and all the information is right in front of you 
  • Just a couple of taps allows you to learn much more 
  • Time Machine feature allows you to explore weather on any date in the past or future 
  • Top-rated weather app in iTunes 
  • Easy on battery life, even when running in background 
  • Available in 40 different languages 

Cons

  • Isn’t free, although I believe $3.99 is a competitive price for what you get 
  • Available only for iOS devices (no Android support) 
  • App must use your location data at all times to send customized notifications and alerts 
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)

About the Dark Sky Weather App 

Available only for iOS devices, the Dark Sky weather app has provided “the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information” and “down-to-the-minute forecasts” since 2018. 

Although the Dark Sky weather app became part of the Apple universe on March 31, 2020, it’s currently ranked the #1 weather app on iTunes, with an average rating of 4.7 stars based on more than 120,000 customer reviews.  

Many even state that Dark Sky is the best weather app around. But is it right for you? By combining online details with my personal experience, that’s the main question we’ll help you decide in this review. 

How the Dark Sky Weather App Works 

The Dark Sky Weather app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (iOS 11.0 or later) and Apple Watch (watchOS 4.0 or later). 

The app allows you to view conditions and succinct descriptions (40 different languages available) at up to eight different locations, including all 14-day forecast details. These include high and low temps, current weather conditions, and current, feels like, high, and low temps. You’ll also find cloud conditions and relative humidity.

From there, you can click on any day’s forecast to see the 24-hour temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, a UV index chart, and an hour-by-hour sky condition chart. Clicking again on the current conditions displays an animated panel with additional information, including:

  • Current wind conditions 
  • Dewpoint and humidity readings 
  • Pressure indicator, including trends 
  • Sunrise and sunset times 
  • Moon phase 
  • Visibility reading 
  • UV index 

Unlike other weather apps, Dark Sky advertises their technology allows for “the world’s first perfectly smooth radar animation” that “lets you see the actual path of the storm: how it moved in the past, and where it’s going in the future.” If precipitation is detected within the next seven hours, the map will also display a rain/snow intensity chart. 

For even more hyper-local weather, you can select a nearby personal weather station (when available), including Netatmo Weather Stations

The Dark Sky app’s Time Machine feature allows you to choose a date in the past and then view historical weather data, or a date in the future to see predictions based on seasonal averages. 

Furthermore, US customers can view full descriptions of all local NWS severe weather alerts. And regardless of your location, you can receive down-to-the-minute precipitation and severe weather (thunderstorms, flooding, hurricanes, etc.) alerts. You can even create your custom notifications and alerts for factors like temperature, wind, and precipitation.

Along these same lines, you can set up a customized weather summary that contains any combination of 20 data points, like windspeeds, nearest storm location, UV index, humidity, and precipitation probability. Then, you can choose the time of day that Dark Sky delivers the notification (more about this in a moment).

If you use the Dark Sky app on multiple devices, iCloud sync will keep your settings across all of them. 

The Dark Sky Weather app provides quick-and-easy access to all the essential details you need to plan your ride, including temperature (current and future), precipitation, cloud cover, humidity, and many more. Credit: Apple, Inc.

How Much Does the Dark Sky Weather App Cost? 

The Dark Sky app is only available as a paid version for a one-time price of $3.99. However, you can sign up for a free 7-day free trial to test it out beforehand, which automatically rolls to a paid version and charges the credit card on file if you don’t cancel beforehand. 

Important: Dark Sky supports family sharing, which means that a single download will work across multiple devices, as long as they’re signed in with the same App Store ID used when purchasing the app. 

My Experience with the Dark Sky Weather App 

I geek-out when it comes to the weather, and the Dark Sky app has yet to disappoint. It’s quick and easy to access visual representations of the different variables I need to gauge ideal riding conditions, including the following:

  • Temperature (real and feels-like) 
  • Precipitation Probability (%) 
  • Precipitation Rate (in/hr) 
  • Wind (MPH), including direction, which is indicated by directional arrows 
  • Wind Gusts (MPH) 
  • Humidity (%) 
  • Dew Point (°F) 
  • UV Index 
  • Cloud Cover (%) 
  • Pressure (MB) 

I’ve found that the Dark Sky app is super customizable based on the data that matters most to me, including the daily summaries I receive each morning at 7:30 am, which provides a quick overview of sunset and sunrise times, temperatures, and wind data.

The Dark Sky app provides a quick-and-easy visual summary forecast, which you can learn more about by tapping on the day to bring up additional details.

Dark Sky’s maps and radars load quickly (with a decent Wi-Fi connection, of course), and I’ve learned to appreciate its ultra-smooth animations. They took some getting used to, though, as I was used to traditional “jerky” animations. 

With that said, I love that the app’s animations allow me to see where current weather is headed, and where any future weather might pop up while I’m out riding. 

The Dark Sky app’s live animation map allows you to seamlessly switch between precipitation (left) and temperature (right) visualizations.

Battery-wise, the iTunes listing for the Dark Sky app notes, “This app may use your location even when it isn’t open, which can decrease battery life.” After using the app for several months, though, I haven’t noticed any significant decreases in my battery life while riding, even with other apps like Strava and Ride With GPS running simultaneously. 

Another factor to keep in mind is that if you add custom notifications, the Dark Sky app will require that you give it permission always to track your location, which could be a deal-breaker, depending on your privacy tolerances.

Here’s how the Dark Sky FAQ explains it: 

“Uses your location in the background when notifications are turned on will not drain your battery. Dark Sky does not use GPS, which can be a big battery hog, to get your location in the background. Rather, your phone will periodically find your location via Wi-Fi and cell tower triangulation, which doesn’t have an adverse effect on the battery.” 
 

The Dark Sky app allows you to set up custom notifications and summaries and provide up-to-date information to the company to help improve their forecasts.

Dark Sky vs. Epic Ride, Accuweather, and Other Weather Apps 

Dark Sky is currently ranked as the #1 weather app on iTunes, but this doesn’t mean that it’s currently your only option. Here are some of the top-rated choices between iTunes and Google Play: 

App Compatibility Price Standout Features 
Dark Sky Weather iOS, Web $3.99 Custom alerts and notifications, smooth map animations, highest rated weather app on iTunes, Time Machine allows you to view past or future weather on any date 
Epic Ride Weather Android, iOS $2.99/mo–$8.99 (one-time) Cycling-specific weather app (the only one), syncs with Strava routes, can help you set personal records based on wind speed and direction 
Accuweather Android, iOS $3.99 (one-time) Customizable alerts and on-demand warnings, delivers RealFeel temperature, forecasts up to 15 days in advance 
Weather by Weatherbug Android, iOS, Desktop  Free–$19.99 Severe weather alerts from multiple sources, forecasts up to 10 days in advance, 18 animated/interactive weather maps 
NOAA Weather and Live Radar Alerts Android, iOS $2.99–$19.99 Sources data from NOAA, real-time animated radar images, interactive local and world maps, severe weather warnings 

As we outline in 7 Top Cycling Weather Apps to Help Keep You Dry, Warm, & Safe, the best option will primarily depend on your specific combination of needs and preferences, and which of these you choose to emphasize. Therefore, what works for you might not work at all for someone else and vice-versa. 

For example, the Dark Sky app is only compatible with iOS devices, so you’re out of luck if you’re on any other platform. However, the app’s notifications are available in 40 languages (by far the most in this list). It’s also the only option with smooth radar animations, and it’s currently the highest weather-related app in iTunes. 

Comparatively, Epic Ride is the only cycling-specific weather app in the lineup, but it’s also more expensive than many of the other options listed here. 

Accuweather’s RealFeel promises to deliver the most accurate feels-like temperature, but it only provides forecasts only up to 15 days in advance, compared to Dark Sky’s seemingly infinite Time Machine. 

The Weather by Weatherbug app ties for the most expensive in this list, although it provides access to a whopping 18 different maps if visualization is vital to you. The app also delivers forecasts up to 10 days in advance, and in six languages. 

Finally, the NOAA Weather and Live Radar Alerts app ties for the most expensive. However, it sources all of its data directly from NOAA (if this is an essential factor to you) and then turns it into interactive local and world maps. 

Where does all of this information leave you when it comes to the Dark Sky weather app? Let’s wrap everything up in the next section. 

The Bottom Line About the Dark Sky Weather App 

Based on my experience, along with tens of thousands of online customer reviews, the Dark Sky Weather app could very well meet all of your needs—as long as you own an iOS device.  

Whether you’re a cyclist or not, in my opinion, the app delivers a ton of bang-for-the-buck, especially if you want access to quick and easy information without a lot of tapping around. It also provides customizable alerts and notifications, along with super-smooth animations you won’t find anywhere else.  

Combined, I think Dark Sky is one of the best places to start if you’re currently exploring different weather apps. 

What’s your experience with the Dark Sky weather app? Help other cyclists stay informed by leaving your review above and your comments below! 

Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist, and is the founder of TreadBikely. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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