Google finally has a default weather app to compete with Apple and Samsung. Though Pixel phones have long been able to display the current weather in widgets, tapping on those widgets just launched a basic screen with a cute weather frog and a handful of stats. It felt like a web page because that’s basically what it was.
With the launch of the Pixel Tablet earlier this week, Google has rectified that situation. Its new weather app — which is accessed via the same widgets as before, as there’s no icon to launch it — has a much nicer design without losing the playfulness of the older experience. It has 10-day and 24-hour forecasts; wind, humidity, barometric pressure, and UV index reports, plus current sun position and sunrise / sunset times. It also shows details for precipitation, wind, and humidity broken down by the hour. All of this is available in an easy to parse single screen with some fun animations for the current conditions.
The new app also has the ability to provide immediately upcoming precipitation information, including how intense it will be and long it will last before it stops. It can even provide this data up to 12 hours in advance thanks to its use of data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other sources. This information will only be displayed in the app when it’s relevant — if there isn’t any upcoming precipitation near you, it won’t show this data.
The new weather experience shows quite a lot of detail in an easy-to-parse way. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any radar maps.
Perhaps the only thing missing from this new weather experience is a radar view — if there is one, I’ve been unable to find it in the app. It’d also be nice to have an app icon to launch the weather app instead of having to rely on a widget. Like the barebones previous version, this new one is powered by the Google app, but it feels much more native and less like a dinky little website.
For now, the new weather app is limited to tablets, including the Pixel Tablet and the soon-to-launch Pixel Fold. 9to5Google reports that Google plans to bring it to other devices in the future, but there’s no timing for when that might happen. Android Police has some images of what it looks like running on a phone-sized screen, thanks to developers that were able to activate it on their devices.
Samsung devices already have a rather complete weather app preinstalled, but I’m hopeful that Google doesn’t keep this exclusive to the Pixel line and makes it more widely available. It wouldn’t be the first time Google extended Pixel-specific software outside of its own devices.
Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge