A new weather app for iOS launched Monday makes weather forecasters out of all iPhone users. The crowdsourced approach to weather reporting used by Weddar means you’ll have an accurate impression of how the weather on the ground actually feels, instead of just static numbers that don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
Of course, how weather feels is a subjective affair, but that’s the point of Weddar. It humanizes the weather report app by connecting real people to make weather more experiential, and creating an ongoing group conversation around what it’s like outside. It uses a crowdsourcing model to make weather reporting “hyper-local,” according to Weddar co-creator Ricardo Fonseca. Since people are doing their own reports, instead of depending on a service, weather reporting can happen “even in places where other services could not reach,” Fonseca says.
As someone who has and continues to use a wide variety of weather apps on my iOS devices and on my Mac, I can personally attest to how frustrating it can be to receive inaccurate reports from somewhat distant reporting stations. Here in Toronto, for instance, weather info often comes from Pearson Airport, which is a far cry from the city’s downtown. Weddar doesn’t provide specific temperature reporting, opting instead to let users choose from nine one-word descriptors (including Hot, Perfect, Freezing and OK) and four conditions (rain, snow, etc.) with three levels of strength each. Reports are then posted on a Google Map within the app alongside all others for the area. Checking in with what people in my immediate vicinity are saying about what it’s like outside, even if its only a report of the general conditions, seems like a considerable improvement over depending on automated reports that can’t convey experiential information.
Fonseca asserts that I’m not alone when I find cause for those kinds of complaints regarding traditional weather reporting. “Weather is one of the most important aspects in people’s lives,” he says. “People everywhere at anytime are talking about it. They’re never happy with weather reports and blame weather reporters for not being accurate.” That dissatisfaction is the key to Weddar’s success, according to Fonseca:
Long-term engagement will come from, we believe, the app being useful solving this issue for them. We see Weddar as “people powered” but you can also see it the other way around as “Power to the People.” People helping each other with accurate and personal reports is a powerful (and as we have been seeing, addictive) thing.
Fonseca and the Weddar team are also planning additional social features that will make the app even more useful, including photo sharing of current weather conditions. The app also employs a reward system that uses a user leaderboard to track the most engaged users. Even considering those elements, Fonseca says “the crucial thing for long-term [engagement] will be if people find the app useful in their daily life,” something he says they’ve seen promising evidence of during the beta and today with the official launch.
Fonseca and the entire Weddar team hail from Portugal, and he says they were inspired to create the app in the face of so much negative press about his home country regarding its financial woes. He and his team “wanted to do something cool and unleash it to the world to show people that Portugal is not only “IMF rescues, crisis and sun.’” The Weddar team completely bootstrapped the app’s development and creation in order to achieve that goal, and the app is currently free and also ad-free, but he stresses that they have a solid business plan in place that he says will be implemented “in a later stage of Weddar’s development.” For now, Fonseca’s plans for Weddar mainly involve reaching the most users possible, because “that’s the way the service will be useful to people.”
Right now, you’ll likely only see a lot of local reports if you’re based in Portugal, but it’s only day one. The clever interface and remarkably simple user experience provided by Weddar, along with the usefulness of its feature set guarantee we’ll see uptake expand steadily across the world as more people discover this App Store gem.