Apple’s iOS (s aapl) home screen may be simple and effective, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of dynamically updating content. Two new apps, Fahrenheit and Celsius (there’s a separate app for both temperature scales), do the best with what Apple provides to offer dynamically updating local temperature you can check without ever opening an app.
One thing I miss about the home screen of the Samsung Galaxy Tab I briefly owned (there isn’t much) are the widgets that provide information without actually requiring a user to fully open an application. Apple only allows icons to be displayed on the home screen, and the only dynamic one of those is its own Calendar app. Third-party developers can’t use dynamic icons, and Apple doesn’t seem eager to give any other of its own first-party icons a dynamic makeover. Even its own Weather app always shows it as sunny, clear and 73 degrees, which can be annoying when it’s grey and hovering around zero with sleet falling everywhere. The only way to change an icon on the home screen is with a numbered badge, and that’s just how Fahrenheit and Celsius work.
Simply open the app, allow it to detect your location, and allow it to send push notifications. It’ll find the weather info for your area (which it displays in a very attractive interface, complete with three-hour forecast breakdowns and weather maps), and it’ll display the current temperature as a numbered badge on the app’s icon once you exit. Thanks to Apple’s iOS multitasking, it also updates the temperature every hour in the background.
Apple’s badge system doesn’t support negative numbers, so the apps provide a few different options for cold-weather climates. Either the app can display the negative temp as a positive number (so -3 would show as 3), you can display no temperature at all when it drops below zero, or the app can send a notification when the temperature swings into the negatives so you don’t get confused. Considering the software limitations, I think it’s a solid workaround.
Both Fahrenheit and Celsius are universal apps, so they’re optimized on both the iPhone and the iPad. Also remember that they’re distinct apps, so if you buy the wrong one, you’ll have to pay for the other to change units. Each only costs $0.99, though, so even if you do buy both it won’t break the bank. Plus, with both, you can have them side-by-side on your home screen for instant, at-a-glance temperature unit conversion.
I’d love some dynamically updating weather conditions in addition to the temperature, but until Apple makes some major changes to iOS, that’s not going to happen. For now, Fahrenheit and Celsius more than fit the bill, thanks in no small part to smart app icon design that makes it instantly apparent that the badge is telling you the current temperature. It may not be as fancy as an Android (s goog) widget, but it’s simple, smart and it gets the job done.