WeatherCal: Local Weather in iCal

A huge range of websites seem to offer weather information, though until now there has been a fairly limited range of integration with desktop apps (other than through Dashboard). The idea of integrating a weather forecast with iCal is one which seems obvious, but has only recently been introduced in the form of WeatherCal.

WeatherCal is a $10 System Preferences app which adds a five day weather forecast into iCal for cities of your choice. Forecasts appear as all day events, and are easy to sync with your iPhone or iPod Touch. This review will provide an overview of WeatherCal as well as a couple of solutions which provide very similar functionality for free.

Setting up WeatherCal

Unlike many applications, WeatherCal sits within your System Preferences pane. Installing it will bring up a configuration window which allows you to add and edit the cities/regions it will download weather data for:

WeatherCal Preferences

WeatherCal Preferences

There’s nothing else to configure; once you’ve inputted your chosen cities, WeatherCal will automatically create the appropriate calendars in iCal and populate them with information.

Viewing Weather in iCal

When you next load up iCal, you’ll be greeted to a couple of new calendars and several additional all day events for the next few days:

All Day Weather Events

All Day Weather Events

Each calendar can be customized as any other in iCal, so you can alter the colour, name and description if desired. The forecast contains a short description of the weather (e.g. Party Cloudy, Chance of Rain), a tiny weather icon, and an estimate of the daily high/low in temperature.

Double clicking on a weather event brings up more information, which includes a link to a more detailed forecast:

Handy Icons

Handy Icons

Syncing the Weather

As you’d expect, it’s possible to synchronize the created calendars with your iPhone via iTunes. Weather appears in a nicely colour coded format, with the same tiny icons as on the desktop. I couldn’t seem to cause the calendars to sync via MobileMe, though that could simply be a bug at my end – you may have more luck.

WeatherCal on your iPhone

WeatherCal on your iPhone

A Free Solution

After digging around a little, it seems that it’s possible to recreate this functionality (more or less) for free. If you head over to Weather Underground and search for your local city, look for the iCal icon in the top right corner:

The iCal Icon

The iCal Icon

Clicking this will download an iCal file which you can import into the app, providing an integrated forecast. Whilst this is a good solution, it won’t update automatically (which defeats the point somewhat).

Another solution is to go to Smashin Weather, enter your details, and subscribe to the iCal link it provides. This will offer an automatically updated subscription, and works great on your desktop.

Conclusion

The main discussion created by WeatherCal is whether it really adds any value over the in-built weather Dashboard widget (or app for the iPhone). It offers the same five day forecast, a similar level of information, and a far less visually appealing interface.

The benefit lies in the convenience of not being required to swap between apps to see what the forecast is likely to be. Personally I rarely find myself venturing into the weather iPhone app, and don’t have the Dashboard widget open on my Mac. Being presented with this information automatically via my calendar is an attractive option, and something I would consider paying $10 for.

What are your thoughts? Do you see the appeal in having weather data in one place, or are you quite happy with flipping between applications?


  • http://www.kieru.com Rob

    I can see the appeal of having weather right there in your iCal; but at the same time it strikes me as unnecessary clutter. If you’re using iCal enough to warrant having it open all the time, you probably want to be able to see your ‘day’ pretty clearly, not your day amidst the weather forecast.

    I prefer WeatherDock. It’s a free service that can display in your Dock or up in the taskbar. It connects to Weather.com and you can customize it to show / hide quite a variety of details on the weather.

  • LeGaS

    I don’t see the point of syncing weather data with iPhone, since there’s the built-in Weather app for this.

  • http://www.stfn.nl Stefan

    Why you wanna use this? I’ve got wheater reports as a widget. On click away and I know enough about the weather for free

    • DigitalMonkey

      Exactly! How much more whether data you need? So what, if it is going to rain tomorrow.

  • http://eric.ferraiuolo.name Eric Ferraiuolo

    I would try it out if it were free, or say a couple of dollars, but $10 just seems a little much for this…

    Does anyone know where it’s sourcing the weather info from?

  • http://twitter.com/rubenator Ruben

    The free implementation (@ http://www.smashin.com/weather/ ) works *really* well. The only thing it doesn’t do that weathercal does is sync with MobileMe or iPhone/iPod touch, but that will change with iPhone OS 3.0

  • tjl

    Using BusySync to sync with Google and Nuevasync (@ http://www.nuevasync.com/) to sync Google calendars to my iPod Touch, I can get over-the-air syncing without using MobileMe. So, with the free implementation at Smashin Weather I can get updated weather on my iPod Touch without the added expense of WeatherCal.

  • arsenalarmada

    Free version via Weather Underground does just fine…

  • Ryan Gray

    Copy the Weather Underground iCal link instead of clicking on it, go to iCal and subscribe to a calendar and paste that link in. This should then update if you set it to. Just clicking the link downloads the current static .ics file, which will just add the current weather events to iCal not as a subscription.

  • John Prokos

    The free ICAL URL can be subscribed to using Apple iCal and the weather updates automatically over the internet according to your preference,,, every minute if you desire.

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