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If you are here because of my alert on Weather Planet, welcome. I have been surprised by some of the ratings it has been getting, so can only think that there is some issue, be it a bug, or wacky UI problem, that is causing some folks some headaches. Please let me know what they might be as I am starting to work on the next rev and would like to make it an elegant and fun (i.e., not frustrating) app to use.

Update (and mini-FAQ):

Thanks to all for the kind words and taking the time to respond. I’ll try and answer the most common remarks here, then personally for very specific items.

Q: How about showing the cloud motions over time?

A: This is the most common request, and could only be done in one of two ways. The user (you know who you are), would have to keep their phone or touch on constantly through the day to fetch enough images to make a usable animation. The other way would be for me to do a lot of server backend stuff to generate animations then ship them down to the client software. Most wouldn’t want to do the first, and I don’t have the time or the experience right now to do the latter. Not to mention that that would be a fairly large file.

Q: Nice software, but the clouds are blanked out sometimes. What gives, dude?

A: I’m glad you asked. If you get a partial cloudmap with another part just white or gray, that’s coming from the weather satellites or at least the ground stations that receive the original images. So nothing I can do there, I personally see it about once every week or two. The other issue is with a completely blank earth. I have seen only once on my iPhone, but every week or so in the simulator. It is very hard to reproduce to track it down. A simple exit and restart slaps the software back into shape though. It is on my list, and I check it almost every day in the dev system to see if it happens again.

Q: The dark side’s too dark, even with ambient light.

A: I think I see what you mean. I added the ambient light to increase the cloud visibility, but I see that some of the “darker” landmasses still are invisible such as that Europe thingy. So I’ll add a feature to turn off the dark entirely.

Q: Can’t this sucker scroll to my last position?

A: It was on the original feature list, but I just ran out of time. Enough of you kind folks have requested it so it will be at the top.

Q: I get tired of the &&*#% messages asking if it is ok to use my location!

A: That’s a system issue, the iPhone generates those messages on its own. However I notice that it stops asking after a while. I don’t know what the algorithm is, but I’ll see if there is a way to minimize them.

Q: I would love higher resolution earth images.

A: So would I! But the iPhone’s graphics hardware had a limit on the resolutions of the images it can use (1024×1024). This has been increased starting with the 3GS and the 3rd generation iPod/touches. For the older gear there are work arounds, but it’s messy. For the newer gear, I should silently switch over to using the better images.

Q: Weather Planet is like, really really awesome! Do you have any other software with the same level of awesomage?

A: Glad you asked! Check out Grand Tour-3D and Distant Suns. You’ll be glad you did.


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19 Comments

  1. … ok… this was two months ago.

    any news on the “revamped” version, please?

  2. Hi there Mike,

    I’ve been using Weather Planet for some days now and think it is a really nice program. I would like, since you ask for it, to give you a few thoughts and feedback.

    When the app first starts up, I find myself looking at the African continent with a great contrast between sea, land and clouds. I, however, live in Norway, northern Europe, and as I pan north the contrast between sea, land and clouds decreases. Yes, I have selected “Ambient Light – brightens up the night”, but it does not make the night bright enough. It is somewhat hard to see what is going on with the weather. This is true even during the day here in Norway. It seems like the border between day and night (dusk and dawn) is too large..? So large that it seems there never will be completely daylight in Norway when looking at Weather Planet. Even though the sun is lower on the horizon during wintertime, there are still many hours of daylight every day.

    I would prefer if there was a way to turn night off. That way it would be easier to see the big weather picture. In addition, or alternatively, maybe the dusk and dawn areas could be made smaller, so that there is a larger contrast between day and night.

    Please take a look at for example the program โ€œPlanetsโ€ by Q Continuum available for free on the App store. You do not even have to download it as picture number three shows a very good picture of how clear the day is, and how the night is presented in that app, making it very easy and nice to look at.

    I would like to finish telling you that I really enjoy your program. As a pilot it is very informative and interesting to see the larger weather situation. Thank you!

    Best regards from Norway

  3. I suspect you can’t see iTunes UK comments in the USA, so here is mine typed in again (iTunes doesn’t allow you to cut and paste – how bizarre!) On reading the review about a month later, it still stands – I cannot emphasise strongly enough how poor Weather Underground is here.

    “This application is in the tradition of EarthDesk and similar desktop applications. It displays a cloud map and city-specific temperatures superimposed on a map of the world, with an accurate stellar background; it is possible to zoom out to the edge of the Solar System and beyond, or in to (I would guess) a few hundred miles up. Weather Planet is quite effective at these tasks, but it is bare-bones and there are a number of uncharacteristic glitches and missteps (in comparison with the superb Distant Suns by the same author, which are hardly surprising for a first release). A few suggestions:

    1. Put use of GPS, or not, in Preferences, remove the unnecessary scroll in to Earth and the unnecessary query for the current location and “Location discovery denied” dialog when it is refused, which leads to it taking several seconds more to start the application than is required just to retrieve the latest weather data [addition – if GPS is refused it is often unclear where the home city is. WP appears to have decided, at the moment, that it is near Tahiti in my case!]

    2. Make the contrast and clouds and land, particularly at night, adjustable; even with “ambient light” on it is hard to see much in the dark segment of the earth.

    3. Provide an option to show a political map or, at least, political borders; the borders displayed at the moment are of constellations, not of the Earth, and it is likely that most people will concentrate on the second given the target of the application;

    4. Ditch Weather Underground. It is far from the most accurate provider, at least in the UJ and, (in my opinion) a full decode of METARs against the cities displayed, rather like AeroWeather, would be far more useful. There are dozens of applications which retrieve weather forecasts and another one which does that as a secondary task, with not particularly good raw data, is not needed;

    5. More data! Are there publicly available temperature, pressure and rainfall maps for the whole world? Earthquakes would be another interesting addition, not that there are many in the UK.

    6. This might be stretching the iPhone to its limits and beyond, but animations using saved data would be great; at the moment the cloud view is a static snapshot.

    • Hi Alastair for forwarding your comments. I use Weather Underground as they are friends of mine and have been more then generous with their time to do some custom scripts for me.

      The additional data you are asking should be available in part from the WU pages, but would also be very time consuming to add for a free product. Not a good excuse, but I’m sticking to it! I also decided to leave the data intensive stuff to the other weather packages out there, for the time being.

      Mike

  4. Hi-
    Just posted a 4 star review at the app store (“cool presentation”). City lights would be neat but even without them it works well. Also some more info when viewing the moon might be nice.Someone mentioned the resolution when zoomed and if this was better that would be nice as well. My only question is why the “distance” number does not change when I zoom in on earth? Overall, I think you did a great job!

    Thank You,
    Ron

    • Hi Ron, the distance doesn’t change because when you zoom in you are not changing the distance. You the double-taps are the guys that actually move you in or out from the earth (the upper half of the screen for moving in, the lower for moving out).

  5. maybe… it’s still a little too dark and maybe… location services may be used to navigate to current location when starting the app

    but I really like and enjoy Weather Planet and I won’t care too much about App Store *users* ratings ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Your app ‘Weather Planet’ is a cool one, had it not been it would not be still on my iPhone as is the case with many that I download. Yet, there are a few things that seem – to me – a little exasperating:

    – For one, the app always asks for the GPS to be connected upon startup. If not, it does not load.

    – Second, it seems to lose the focus on my location whenever I restart it. This means that I end up seeing a different part of the globe than the place I am at, which usually does not interest me.

    I suggest that you offer the possibility of registering one’s location and then being able to disconnect GPS and have the app open at one’s saved location as default (or at least as an option).

    Other than this, I suggest a little more resolution in the world map so that one can come closer to land and, thus, see the cloud activity much better as relates to one’s environment.

    Of all, the first issue is to me the biggest letdown. To enter the program and have it close because you do not have the battery-hogging GPS option connected must have led many to think that the program has a serious bug. Perhaps this is why it has not been harnessing the interest I believe it ahould get.

    I wish you and your interesting app the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. If you could make the day/night border more distinct and clearer.

    • Unfortunately, the OpenGL graphics layer makes that level of tinkering a little difficult. I’ll see if there are ways to do that, but don’t hold yer breath.

  8. Hi, I noticed the link in ‘weather planet’ and thought that I would mention that your app satisfies my desire to be able to see live cloud images over my particular sector of the globe, in a most elegant way; I am more than happy with WP! I would give it 4*, 5* would come with the ability to zoom in closer i.e. higher resolution ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep up the great development work!

  9. Hello,
    i am using you app and think it is fun. But what I would expect is the possibility that when you add the name of a location and then click on that location that the app then would automatically turn to it. Just like google earth does.
    Maybe that might be a nice addition if possible.

    Yours
    Caroline

  10. Needs the ability to add your location eg. Long and lat. Other than that your app is great. Thanks

    • Yup, on the list. I got an earful from one early user as to why the auto-locate stuff doesn’t work for everyone.

  11. I love it but the problems that have acured are the clouds didnt update and now the hole world is grayed out and could you put an option to put youre location in manualy as i use an ipod touch in New Zealand and we cant use location service apart from these bugs i think it is awsome i like it.

  12. hey i like it! i only have the free one but so far it showed me the big ol storm heading into the PNW days before the local weather talked about it. i also do work where i need to be aware of the general climate conditions around the world and this gives me some insight rather quickly. where do i buy the full version?

    • Hi Donna, I am glad you want the “full” version, but that is the full version. However, feel free to check out my other offerings if you want to support this midnight-engineer.

  13. Hello,
    First of all I want to thank you for this beautiful tool! I am a pilot, flying in Gabon for a Belgium company. I appreciate the weather satellite pictures for my flight planning 600 miles around Libreville.
    It drove me nuts that I could not start the program anymore. By chance I found that I had the location finder switched off. If it has to depend on that I wish my present location would zoom in automatically on the planet. The satellite pictures should show the UTC time they were taken.
    Just my feed back and thanks again,
    Egmont

    • Hi Egmont, wow! A “bush pilot” in Gabon? Pretty interesting. I’m not sure if I can get the time the images were shot as they are composites of images from a number of satellites. The best I can do is to show the time the images were last downloaded to your device.

      Mike


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