Developer: Robocat
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
Usability Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

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There’s no doubting that Outside for iPhone, visually, is quite stunning. Using the age-old concept of opening a physical window to see the current conditions outside, the app offers a quick overview of current weather conditions dependent on your location with a modern twist, the real question is: Does it compete enough with Apple’s own built-in Weather.app to replace it completely? In short, it comes very close but having used the app for quite some time now, there are definitely some noticeable omissions.

When you first open Outside, the app will gather up-to-date weather observations for your current location, from a number of online and well trusted sources. Surprisingly, even though the app works off location data, you won’t need “Location Services” activated most of the time. In fact, I found Outside will find weather information for manual locations, too. What this means is, you can input your own location, and as long as your connected over 3G or Wi-Fi outside will return the necessary data. The app is designed to give you local forecasts for the next 5 days.

So, What aspects of the weather does Outside report back on? I hear you ask. Well, the app is first set out to display the current temperature. This is seen right on the center of the window interface. Cold temperatures are signified by blue, and hotter, orange to red. Underneath the temperature you’ll find a ‘Feels like’ reading. This is the current wind chill factor. These are then offset on a backdrop of matching visuals. Whether it be a cold rainy day, or a sunny but cloudy afternoon, Outside will have an animated backdrop for you to gaze upon. In the top left you’ll find a little calendar-like info pane. This will display weather the information is current or a future forecast and the time the information was last updated. Now although the app doesn’t have a noticeable way to force a refresh of weather data, I found that as long as I was on a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, the app updates immediately on launch.

The real aspect which makes Outside unique though, is push notification. Yes, Outside will notify you of when it’s safe to go outside, and not get drowned while doing so. Or, if you just fancy sunbathing, the app is designed to let you know exactly when it the best time for throwing on that T-Shirt. See, Outside for iPhone includes the ability to set notifications for one of four weather outcomes. Whether that be Rain, High UV, T-Shirt or the Cold, the app allows you to set notifications for each. The idea being, the app will inform you when weather conditions outside are just perfect for the activity you want to perform. It’s a novel idea, but certainly not a first for the iPhone. In fact we’ve seen a number of apps try it, including Umbrella and Umbrella – The Simplest Weather Forcast to name just a few. But, in my testing it’s not a concept which held up. In fact, I was lucky if Outside notified me about the weather at all.

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Outside works on a in-app purchases, with the first 4 weeks of ‘Push Notifications’ included in your purchase of Outside. Afterward, if you’d like to buy more notifications, 90 days will set you back 59p. All in-app subscriptions are manageable and displayed in the app’s Preferences, under Subscriptions. Of the notifications I did receive, these were viewable in Outside’s ‘Notifications’ tab. From here I could also turn off any impending notifications I wished, and turn on others.

Apart from the app not seeming to notify me some of the time, I also found Outside only has the ability to gather weather information for one location at any one time… a disappointment when compared to something like Apple’s weather app. I’d like to see Robocat add this ability to Outside. This feature alone could see me using Outside more often than Apple’s weather app.

Overall, I have to say I like Outside. Yes it does have its issues and it clearly has some basic feature omissions, features you’d probably expect from any good self-respecting weather client, but both it’s polished animation and realistic sounds really do make for a great weather experience, and with the push notification aspect of the app being an optional extra, Outside is a well-designed weather app. It’s by no means a full weather client. You won’t find radar or satellite imagery here, instead Outside takes weather back to basics, offering essential 5-day weather forecasts in a user intuitive and graphically playful interface.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews, Weather

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