It seems like there is a sector of Mac software that can bring out the hidden enthusiast in any of us. There are media player apps, productivity apps, finance apps, and even apps to organize and catalog all of your real-world belongings. Sometimes, however, the most interesting apps are the ones that take an activity that we often don’t think about, and do something completely different. Today, the app in question caters to our inner weather junkie.
Swackett touts itself as “a different kind of weather app,” a category into which it fits quite nicely. Checking the weather before heading out for the day can be quite a time consuming task. When you live in a place where the weather could change at a moments notice, a “Today’s High” isn’t enough to determine what outfit will be appropriate. Swackett aims to remedy the tedium of climate calculation by presenting the day’s weather to you in terms of your wardrobe, rather than simply in degrees.
Swackett is almost entirely interface, and for the most part, it is well executed. After launching the app and entering your zip code, you’re greeted with a beautiful, bold pane with today’s forecast. “Today’s high” and “Will feel like” are displayed in the upper left corner, along with an icon denoting sky conditions.
The bulk of your visual information, however, comes to you in the form of a stick-figure couple (called “peeps”) wearing what Swackett thinks is appropriate apparel for the weather. The central pane also has sliding tabs for “current conditions”, “tonight’s forecast”, and “tomorrow’s forecast.” After a few test glances over the course of a few days, it turns out that this type of informational display reduces the amount of time you need to process the weather to almost zero. Handy indeed.
Scroll down a bit, and you’ll find a 14-hour forecast and a 7-day forecast for your area. Again, the bold vector-style art does great things for readability. Both outlooks are autoupdated with the time.
Once you’ve scrolled all the way to the bottom, you’ll find a series of radar maps. These displays are also autoupdated for local, state, regional, and national weather.
A menu bar across the bottom of the app contains a series of buttons for accessing Settings, Locations, Warnings and Watches, and Support. The Settings button is the most notable, I think, because of the level of customization the app allows.
Swackett can be customized with all of the typical settings (e.g. fahrenheit vs celsius, language, etc.). What really sets it apart, however, is the ability to suggest clothing based on your temperature preferences. Swackett ranks temperature on a scale from ‘Frigid’ to ‘Hot.’ These ranges can all be specified to the degree by what you consider “warm” or “cold”, and the app will suggest apparel accordingly.
The Locations button allows you to set several locations that you may want to watch for weather. The Watches and Warnings buttons open up a bezel pane map and informs you of any sever weather watches or warnings issued for the areas on your locations list.
Swackett provides a decent number of extra features that increase the usability. There are multiple ‘editions’, which are different styles of clothing (usually from a particular historical era) that are represented by the peeps, and novelty peeps are published at random and are “guaranteed to make you smile.” If you register for an account, you can keep your locations and editions preferences in sync with multiple platforms and devices. The app can be linked with Twitter, allowing you to share your location and weather, and the Swackett website even has a store where you can purchase editions or real-life apparel.
The worst thing I can say about Swackett is that it looks and functions quite like a webpage (and, indeed, the same as the new Swackett web app). There are ads built into the app and, unfortunately, no discernible way to upgrade to an ad free version.
Aside from the aesthetic similarities to a webpage, Swackett takes a very unique approach to a weather application. The visual weather report is very useful, and the additional functions make it easy to see the forecast for the rest of the day or the rest of the week. It is probably safe to say that the answer to the question: “Might I need a sweater, jacket, or coat?” is Swackett.
Are you a weather junkie? How does Swackett compare to other weather apps you like to use?