Dark Sky finally comes to Android, features widgets and subscription pricing

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It’s been four long years coming, but Dark Sky, the eerily accurate, perennially popular weather app for iOS, is finally gaining a counterpart on Google’s Android operating system. In a blog post today, the weather service’s development team announced an Android edition of Dark Sky — one that retains the stylistic sensibilities and forecasting capabilities of the iOS app, but adds widgets, a try-before-you-buy option, and a number of other features “uniquely possible” on Android.

The accuracy of of Dark Sky’s climatological soothsaying — and indeed, a major reason for its passionate, borderline-obsessive following on iOS — is its hyperlocal, minute-by-minute approach to weather forecasting. The app regularly analyzes weather data from 19 national sources in addition to crowdsourced reports, government-run stations, and the barometer data on users’ iPhones. The algorithmic end result? Perfectly timed notifications that let you know exactly when rain, hail, snow, or any other atmospheric unpleasantries are expected to begin (i.e., “Heavy Rain starting in 15 minutes), and beautiful visualizations of those weather events. Dark Sky’s got animated maps for precipitation and temperature, a day-to-day timeline which indicates the likeliest hours for precipitation, a seven-day forecast, and a detailed view of weather metrics like chance of precipitation, relative humidity, UV index, and wind speed. And it’s all wrapped up in a minimalist black-and-white interface that’s clean, slick, modern, and wickedly responsive.

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Thankfully, none of Dark Sky’s signatures were lost in translation. the Android app is, at least aesthetically and functionally speaking, pretty much on par with its iOS companion, and in some ways an improvement over it. Navigation between the various app tabs — Today, Week, Map, Alerts, and Report — has been relegated to a single bar at the bottom of the screen rather than, as on iOS, hidden behind left- and right-swipe gestures, and the app makes use of Android’s back button and text font. New home screen weather widgets show current conditions, the seven-day forecast, and chance of precipitation. And the app’s free … with a catch. While on Dark Sky on iOS is a one-time, $3.99 purchase, the Android app’s available gratis, but without the service’s minute-by-minute forecasting features and daily weather summaries. Those features are locked behind a $2.99 annual subscription, one for which Dark Sky’s offering a two-week free trial for curious downloaders.

The rationale for subscription-based pricing, Dark Sky co-founder Adam Grossman told Forbes, had more to do with the running costs involved than any bias. “One of the big reasons we decided to experiment with subscriptions … is that we really think of Dark Sky as more of a service than just an app,” he said. The alternative — “cluttering up the app with ads” — was an approach the development team wanted desperately to avoid. And subscriptions, Grossman said, have an added benefit: accelerated development in the form of “new and expanded” features.

Dark Sky’s partnered with app incubator Applied Innovation to ensure the Android service receives the same amount of attention as the iOS version. “From the moment you turn on notifications, for example, you get your own little entry on one of our servers: It’s like your own personal robot that is constantly checking the weather, making sure you don’t get stuck in the rain.”

Dark Sky’s available on the Play Store now. To check if your region’s supported — the app mainly restricts reports to the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, and Australia — head on over to the app’s Forecast site.

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