The emperor has no clothes.
As an unabashed Yahoo! fan (and former employee), when the company released its new weather app to incredibly lavish praise, I was excited to download it and try it out. Imagine my surprise when my first reaction was along the lines of “what are they smoking?!” To ensure that this wasn’t just an artifact of my contrarian nature, I decided to give it some time.
It’s now three weeks later, and my opinion hasn’t changed. The app is certainly gorgeous, as TechCrunch and others were quick to point out. Unfortunately, it is a triumph of design over utility. Simply put, it fails at its primary function.
There are a couple of reasons I have a weather app on my phone. One is to check the weather where I am today. The other is to check the weather where I might be going over the next few days. I need to dress appropriately, and figure out whether I should pack an umbrella. Note that nowhere on my list is a desire to see a beautiful picture that may or may not have any connection to the city whose weather I’m attempting to find out about.
Take a look at this screenshot from the new Yahoo! weather app.
Launch the app, see this, and your first instinct is to assume that there are clear blue skies at the San Francisco International Airport (let’s ignore for the moment that the painted ladies pictured are actually some distance away from the airport). The font for the temperature is an odd choice at best, with some bizarre spacing that makes it a little jarring to read, at least for me. And then if you’re lucky, you notice the key piece of information that the conditions are fair, with a mix of sun and cloud. In what meeting at Yahoo! did someone decided that one of the two most important pieces of information should be the least visible thing no the page? Even the Flickr logo is more prominent!
Now if you think I’m overstating the issue, take a look at the previous Yahoo! weather app – the one that currently comes preloaded on the iPhone.
Remarkable contrast, isn’t it? Open the app, and I can very clearly see what the current conditions are (sun with a bit of cloud around), what the temperature is, and exactly what it’s going to be like for the remainder of the week. One glance, and I’ve got all the answers I need.
Only one of these apps is designed well, in my opinion, and it’s not the one that has the media all agog.