A basic app on any smartphone is the weather app. Apple has one on the iPhone, Samsung has one on Galaxy devices, and many other device makers have their own weather apps. Google, however, still only has a web app.
No matter where you live, you probably care about the weather, at least somewhat. However, you may not care enough to scour the Play Store to find a weather app. That’s why a built-in app is so handy. So why is Google still relying on a hard-to-find web app for such an essential smartphone feature?
Google Has a Weather App?
Let’s start with the most obvious problem with Google’s current weather “app” situation. I’m willing to bet a lot of people have no idea Google even has a web app for weather. Here’s the process for finding and installing the web app to the home screen
- Open the Google app.
- Do a search for “weather.”
- Tap the three-dot menu icon.
- Tap “Add to homescreen.”
That’s a lot of steps for something that’s built-in and ready to use on most smartphones. Personally, I really like web apps on smartphones—and I think more people should use them—but not for basic functionality.
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The second problem with Google’s weather web app is a lack of information. I don’t need a built-in weather app to be super comprehensive, but Google’s is lacking when compared to the iPhone weather app, for example.
Apple has taken the time to really flesh out the built-in weather app on the iPhone. It’s got real-time rain alerts, minute-by-minute precipitation charts, animated radar maps, and air quality reports. Each little module can be expanded to show more information, too.
Samsung’s weather app isn’t quite as good as Apple’s, but it’s more feature-dense than Google’s, too. It includes information such as air quality, pollen count, radar maps, and even driving difficulty. If you have a Galaxy device, this is probably the only weather app you need.
The leaders in the smartphone market have fully-featured weather apps, but Google is rolling out a barebones web app with a cute frog mascot. Don’t get me wrong, the frog is great, but Google can do better.
One of the most important parts of any weather app is its widgets. A weather widget is an essential thing to have on your home screen, in my opinion. Google does actually have a couple of widgets for its weather web app, but you probably didn’t know that. They’re exclusive to Pixel phones.
It seems weird to go to the effort to make widgets for a hard-to-find web app and then also keep them exclusive to phones that only make up around 2% of the market share in North America. It’s a shame, too, because they’re actually very pretty widgets.
Samsung also keeps its weather app and widgets exclusive, but Samsung isn’t in charge of the Android operating system. It also happens to account for the vast majority of Android devices on the market, so people clearly are using these widgets. They’re not going to waste.
Google, Make It Rain
Look, in the grand scheme of things, the absence of a full-blown Google Weather app is not a big deal. But as someone who happens to like Google’s design aesthetic and weather, I’d love to see one.
Maybe Google wants to leave the weather apps to its third-party app developers. If that’s the case, cool. However, it seems like a waste to almost have a weather app and almost have great widgets for everyone. Let’s do this, Google.
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