Weather is pretty much free (with apologies to folks in Florida’s hurrcane alley). It’s every where. Everyone has it. We all talk about it. There’s not much you can do about it.
Your Mac, as a digital hub, has all sorts of ways to deal with weather. It can’t change the weather but it can bring weather right to your desktop. To your web site. To a web page. To your menu bar. There are dozens of ways to get detailed weather information right to your eyeballs on your Mac.
Here’s a look at what I like best about weather applications for the Mac.
First, I like weather right in front of me. I’m on the computer most of the day writing or producing one thing or the other. That means my weather-controlled, air conditioned, sanitized office isn’t the place to “feel” the weather as it really is outside.
WeatherPop is the free version of WeatherPop Advance (more features).
It’s a small application that sticks in the Mac’s menu bar, mostly to the right side (your mileage may vary depending on the screen width) and gives me an icon of the current weather conditions and the temperature. Most of the time that’s about all I need.
WeatherPop, as with other Mac menu bar weather centers, obtains weather conditions from a number of information sources, lets you set up favorites (multiple city locations) which will cycle, or rotate so you can see weather information from a number of locations.
All that is very handy, easy to setup, and free. But there are problems.
First, menu bar space on many Mac screens is limited. Second, all you get is the current weather condition in an icon (cloudy cloudy, rainy cloud, sunshine for daytime, moon for clear nights), and the current temperature.
To get that much weather all you need is WeatherPop, or Meteorologist, or a number of other free to near-free Mac utilities. WeatherDock provides similar information but uses Mac OS X’s dock instead of the menu bar.
There are times when you want more and need more weather information and that’s when the choices explode. In Safari, a click to Yahoo’s weather will turn up much or most of what you want. Weather maps, satellite maps, current and projected weather conditions—all for most US locations, if not much of the rest of the world.
That’s Yahoo. There’s other web sites like AccuWeather and The Weather Channel which give you access to more weather information than you probably care about. However, you have to go get it yourself from those sources; weather doesn’t magically appear on your desktop.
Or does it? A little less handy but loaded with more information is Son of WeatherGrok. Don’t ask.
SWG takes the menu bar weather status and expands it to include conditions, humidity, dew point, barometric pressure, visibility, sky conditions, etc., and places it all in a resizeable window which you can move around on your Mac’s screen.
Here’s what I’d like to see in a weather utility for the Mac:
A “widget.” Yes, I know widgets are coming for Mac OS X “Tiger” sometime “in the first half of 2005,” but I’d like something like that now. In fact, I’d like it to have an option of being embedded “in” the desktop like a desktop picture or wallpaper. But fully dynamic with multiple weather screens for multiple locations, satellite maps, radar maps, and continually updated.
Then, with one flick of my wrist, I can use Expose’ to move all my open windows out of the way, and woooooosh—right there in the middle of my Mac screen is all the weather I can eat. Uncluttered. Unfettered. Updated.
That would be weather for the rest of us.