Review: Handy Weather


Steve is suitably impressed with Handy Weather, a tool that excels at one specific task... [updated review for v5]

Author: Epocware

Version Reviewed: 5.01

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mega award

It's not often that I get to review an application that's nigh-on perfect in every detail. Yet Handy Weather is such a program - admittedly it only really does one thing (check the upcoming weather for a small number of locations) but it does it so smoothly and unobtrusively that it just had to earn a coveted Mega-App award. Available for almost every handheld platform in the world (really), Handy Weather impresses under S60, shown here, by not only working as a standalone application but also making its functionality available as a screen-saver.

After installation of the week-long trial version, you're gently led into picking a home city (even medium sized towns are available in many countries) and an auto-update interval (the default is 8 hours, which is about right), then it's into Handy Weather proper. Version 5, reviewed here, has had something of a UI tweak and more emphasis is now placed on the 5-day 'Day graph', giving a one glance view at what's coming up, weather-wise. This does make getting to other views slightly more laborious, but it also means that newcomers get to the most important view immediately, so probably a good thing.

Handy Weather screenshot Handy Weather screenshot 

You're also prompted to set a default Internet access point before going online for your first 'Update' (also mapped to the '#' key for extra speed), but you don't have to worry about messing around with multiple access points - just set this to the GPRS setting you know will always be available. Each update only requires 2K of data (for a single city, at any rate), a trivially small hit. Even with several cities being set up for forecasts (you can add them in 'City>Add city'), at updates every 8 hours, we're only talking about 20K a day at most.

Once there's data in the application, 'Day graph' gives an overview of the next 5 days, weather and max temperature, 'Night graph'  looks at the forecast for each night over the next 5 days, along with minimum temperature (useful to know when it's going to be frosty).

Handy Weather screenshot Handy Weather screenshot

'View>Day forecast' gives more information for a specific day, with wind direction and speed, u-v index (a sign of the times) and humidity. Visibility and pressure, staples of the amateur weather sleuth, have now been relegated to a 'Current conditions' view, although this didn't seem to produce data for my location.

The city support is particularly well thought out. Once added, you can use left-right to switch between city tabs, showing the same forecast view.

New to version 5 are satellite maps of your area. These aren't updated automatically for bandwidth reasons, since they're essentially images (around 150k of data per map update). Maps for Temperature, Pressure and Cloud cover are available, as shown here, all zoomable to x4 and scrollable within each region. Each is useful, if not actually essential unless you're the aforementioned weather sleuth.

Handy Weather screenshot Handy Weather screenshot Handy Weather screenshot

 Handy Weather screenshot Handy Weather screenshot

So far so good, but you've got to keep switching to Handy Weather in order to check the forecast, haven't you? Actually, no. The application also comes with a screen saver module that you can activate for your current theme.

After the usual screen saver timeout, instead of the usual Nokia date and time bar, you then get a full screen confirmation of current weather, plus that for tomorrow - and date and time, of course, in big clear characters. Presumably the full-screen display takes up slightly more juice than the standard screen saver, but I doubt it's too significant - I've been running Handy Weather in this way for over a week and haven't noticed a difference in battery consumption.

Handy Weather screensaver

Of course, in screen saver mode there's no backlight to help out, so you're in trouble if you have an N76 or N93i or one of the other Nokia models with appallingly reflective screens. Here I'm showing the screen saver on the Nokia N95 8GB, which has a great screen in daylight.

At $20, Handy Weather is reasonably priced, too. If you find yourself starting up a web browser most days just to check the weather forecast then Handy Weather will save you both money/bandwidth and time. Highly recommended.

Steve Litchfield, AllAboutSymbian, 4 March 2008

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