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Apple acquires Dark Sky (darksky.net)
894 points by _egt6 on March 31, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 576 comments


I mean, congratulations to the founders of Dark Sky. It’s a wonderful app and they deserve all the money they’ll get from this and they deserve a lot of credit for not selling user data when almost every other weather app does. But shutting down the API and Android apps feels like an egregious move by Apple.

And I hope we actually see a good improvement to the Apple weather app as a result of this. I remember a few years ago Apple bought a fantastic public transit app (Embark?), shut it down and I still don’t think their Maps app comes close to the original transit app.

Vaguely topical thought: I wonder if we’re going to see a lot more of this. A large economic downturn means a lot of small, independent companies will struggle to survive. Being swallowed by a megacorp might be one of the few ways to keep something alive.

> I remember a few years ago Apple bought a fantastic public transit app (Embark?), shut it down and I still don’t think their Maps app comes close to the original transit app.

When Edwin Howard Armstrong invented FM radio, he was working for RCA, which had everything invested in AM radio, an incompatible technology. RCA chose not to invest, and used their political clout to lobby the FCC to cripple FM radio, and their lawyers to drive Armstrong into debt in a protracted legal battle. This drove Armstrong to suicide by defenestration. For companies like Apple, these acquisitions are more about killing competition than they are about improving their own services or user interfaces.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Howard_Armstrong http://www.free-culture.cc/

I don't know. How's Dark Sky competing with Apple? I don't think they derive much, if any, revenue from the Weather app. More likely they're paying for the data.

It might have to do with AccuWeather trying to make weather data harder to access, especially NOAA data. Dark Sky was one of the best API's for weather data too, and now Apple does not have to follow anyone else's rules. Tim Cook's big push for environmental responsibility can also be a reason for the acquisition as well. Having access to this type of data allows them to open the door to more environmental productions/applications.

Apparently DarkSky does use the NOAA data, whereas Apple was pulling data from The Weather Company, now part of IBM.

"IBM purchased the Weather Co. in 2016 and sells weather data to, among others, Apple, for its weather app. The purchase could signal that Apple will develop its own weather model rather than continue to use IBM-derived data, or it may indicate that Apple, too, liked the design of the app." https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/03/31/apple-buys...

per https://twitter.com/ajblum/status/1245045062112813059

> whereas Apple was pulling data from The Weather Company, now part of IBM.

It's turtles all the way down[1]. The Weather Company also leverages NOAA data and is listed as such as a weather service provider on NOAA's site[2]. Although they ostensibly augment it with other sources and apply their own forecasting models to the data, they're still basically repackaging NOAA data in one form or another.

[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down

[2] https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/success/weather-service-providers

There is a great episode of 99 percent invisible about this.


> The Weather Company also leverages NOAA data

... in the USA. But one of its great advantages is the data it receives from tens of thousands of amateur weather reporting stations globally. The Wunderground forecast for our locality is hyper-localised and very accurate for that reason, particularly compared to the national Met Office forecast which applies to an airport 35 miles away, beside a lake and on the other side of mountains.

I had no idea Weather Channel had bought Weather Underground in 2012. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_Underground_(weather...

I remember fondly using their Wunder Radio app in the early iPhone years.

I was an early supporter (and payer) for Wunderground, but now they have turned into another IBM money grab and I refuse to have anything to do with them now.

I realy love the norwegian weather service, yr.no (Has english language selection on top). It works worldwide and has an open API [1]. Not sure where they get the data though but short term it's very good here in Sweden. Long term tends to be a bit exagerated though but improves the closer it gets.

[1] https://hjelp.yr.no/hc/en-us/categories/200450271-About-Yr-t...

Maybe this is the start of the Epic Games business model.

Buy things and make them exclusive just so no one else can have them.

I mean in Epic's case, its really more like movie/tv/book deals, except with much more favourable terms to the creators.

You forgot to add with more restrictions, decreased customer satisfaction, upsetting early supporters, and an incomplete storefront that barely has enough online features to state it was built in the last 2 decades.

That is in the case of Epic not the OP.

Buying things to bury just to make sure the competition doesn't get them is by no means a new business model or invented by Epic Games. It's been a solid go to for most big companies since forever. It's nothing new for Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.

So I exclusively use Dark Sky on my iPhone and watch. They could also be looking at the data and noticing that most people use Dark Sky as opposed to the default weather app.

I hope that they also realize WHY people are using Dark Sky and keep that.

> For companies like Apple, these acquisitions are more about killing competition

This is just nonsense.

Every acquisition they've ever done can directly be seen in future projects:


The products you don't see give a hint into their roadmap.

Is this acquisition going to give more people access to a great weather app or less people access to a great weather app?

It's going to be the same people, working on the same product, but now, it's going to unavailable via their cheif competitor. Tell me how on earth you can consider that not killing competition.

When I first read "killing their competition" I thought it meant killing competition in the form of weather apps. That didn't make any sense to me since Apple makes no money off the Weather app. Only after re-reading that sentence a few times did I realize the OP meant killing Android.

That said, I don't believe that to be the issue either. Death by a thousand cuts, maybe, but I seriously doubt closing off one app from the Android ecosystem is going to do any damage whatsoever. I think this is more about the acquisition of talent and nothing more.

> That didn't make any sense to me since Apple makes no money off the Weather app

But now it won't have to pay for API access anymore, since they'll own the whole backend.

> Is this acquisition going to give more people access to a great weather app or less people access to a great weather app?

Perhaps more. It’s a matter of comparing all users of Dark Sky, including via the API and on Android, against the user base of iOS.

And perhaps they’ll be able to use the technology in other countries, bringing in more users than Dark Sky ever could.

Is it realy important that a greater number of people may someday use it in the medium term when in the short term there are less actual users and in the long term the potential is again less.

>And perhaps they’ll be able to use the technology in other countries, bringing in more users than Dark Sky ever could.

45% of ios users are well off Americans. Outside of the US 90% of phones are Android who won't be able to use it anymore.

> Perhaps more. It’s a matter of comparing all users of Dark Sky, including via the API and on Android, against the user base of iOS.

Not disagreeing with the following paragraph, but GP specifically asked about "access", and all of these iOS users already had access to Dark Sky; this strictly decreases access, even if more people end up using it.

What’s stopping someone from now making a truly great Android weather app? If anything it allows for more competition.

My experience with Shazam is that it has got less good at identifying music since Apple bought it. My guess is that it now ONLY identifies music from the Apple Music catalog.

This suggests that Apple may only buy to augment their product line; whilst still making the core experience worse for everyone overall.

I’ll admit I’ve not done a proper study of post-acquisition Shazam. I’m going on casual observation here.

Where can I buy a Primesense-based USB RGBZ camera these days?

Are you suggesting that Apple bought Primesense because they wanted to kill the competition of USB RGBZ cameras?

RGBZ in general. They killed a market just to have a minor feature in their phones. Also keep in mind that Primesense's biggest precious licensee was an Apple competitor.

They’re adding rear facing depth sensor for use with ARKit and are known to have an AR headset in development. I think the new sensor works differently from Primesense (which used a grid projector and a camera instead of LiDAR?) but clearly Apple is doing more with this. I'd be shocked if they didn't have years worth of prototype phones with Primesense systems on the back.

Unfortunately this is still a very narrow vision of what is possible with RGBZ or just Z. You won't want to strap an iPad to a robot, or mount a bunch of iPads on your ceiling, or below your TV connected to your game console.

FaceID uses this technology?

Presumably the rear-facing LiDAR sensor in the new iPads as well, and I suspect those are basically a developer preview for the iPhone 12 Pro hardware so that improved ARKit apps can be ready for the fall

He had a lifelong neurological condition. He didn't work for RCA. It wasn't just RCA that tried to restrict him. RCA did offer him a million dollars that he refused. He did hit his wife with a poker and she left him.

It's a terrible story and he was treated badly, but you're making it more dramatic than it was.

> "...suicide by defenestration..."

as an aside, my first thought at this phrase was that "he died by removing all the windows?" it took a second to process that properly.

but to the point, that's the kind of anti-competition we need to root out quickly. compete on merits, not on demerits.

i'm sad about the embark app, but i'm hoping that the dark sky integration means no more sending data (however "anonymized") to the shady data broker that is the weather channel.

For those who wonder: it’s not a neologism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defenestrations_of_Prague:

The Defenestrations of Prague (Czech: Pražská defenestrace, German: Prager Fenstersturz, Latin: Defenestratio Pragensis) were three incidents in the history of Bohemia in which multiple people were defenestrated (thrown out of a window). The origin of the word "defenestrate" ("out of the window") is believed to come from the episodes in Prague in 1618 when the disgruntled Protestant estates threw two royal governors out of the castle window and wrote an extensive Apologia to this act.

> This drove Armstrong to suicide by defenestration

For those who are extra slow like me: he killed himself by jumping out of a window.

Lol in French defenestration is literally death by jumping out of a window.

In English too

yes, mine was more a temporary confusion between the common notion of the "de-" prefix in english (~"remove") vs. latin (~"out of").

Funnily enough, they're two different Latin word elements. Simplified, there's the "down" de-, as in "destroy," and the "undo" de-, like "defrost." The "undo" de- is also the "not" de- and the "away" de-, related to dis- ("disallow", "discard").

Who needs the weather channel when we have the national weather service publishing forecasts on a 1km x 1km grid?

Is the value of the weather channel that investors expect the national weather service to be abolished?

> Is the value of the weather channel that investors expect the national weather service to be abolished?


"In 2017, Trump nominated Barry Myers, the former CEO of AccuWeather, a company that has advocated for the privatization of large parts of the National Weather Service, to lead NOAA. However, his nomination stalled, in part because of conflict-of-interest concerns since his family still owns the private forecasting company."

Myers doesn’t want to abolish the weather service, he wants to limit who gets the data they collect.

It certainly wouldn’t be profitable for Accuweather to have to do things like gather weather data and have supercomputers to analyze.

The value of these APIs is that they aggregate data worldwide. I don't want to write against the API of every national weather service in the world.

no, to clarify, apple has been using the weather channel (exclusively, i believe) for weather info across its ecosystem. you can't get integrated weather info on apple devices (iphone, watch, etc.) without it (you can download other apps but they wouldn't integrate with the OS).

i'd be super happy if they switched to the national weather service, but absent that, dark sky is more privacy preserving than the weather channel (who reportedly sell location data, for example).

This is a systematic problem with crony capitalism. It will always be with us so long as lobbying and corporate campaign donations are a thing.

Fingers crossed that all the shenanigans preventing cheap ventilators coming to market will force some regulatory action.

By shenanigans, do you perhaps mean the rigorous testing regime applied to a device which will literally be putting the air in your lungs while you're unconscious??

I for one am super happy that people with this attitude have been totally unable to penetrate the medical devices field!

You might want to read about the sort of malfeasance that has put us in this situation:


TLDR: A $3000 ventilator was “on schedule to file for market approval in September 2013” and then Covidien bought out the competition to prevent it coming to fruition.

Covidien at the time already sold a $5000 portable ventilator, which was never rejected by the FDA. The prospective Newport ventilator was rejected for neonatal use, which was a requirement of their BARDA contract.

A badly made ventilator can kill you a lot faster than the virus.

> killing competition

Apple believes it should make/provide the whole “widget”. If they think every phone should ship with a really good weather app, they’ll do one. If one comes on the market that they think is better, they’ll buy it and make it the new default.

I mean they’re not in the weather app business. They aren’t competing against Dark Sky. What they’re competing against is Android, and if their phone comes with a stellar weather app out of the box, that is good for Apple. Others can continue to make weather apps.

iOS comes with a calculator. People still buy PC Calc and Calcbot despite the built-in being pretty useful.

Oddly, the iPad does not come with a calculator.

Unless you count Numbers.

I heard it was because Apple’s C-levels weren’t happy with any of the concepts for a calculator UX that fills the screen of an iPad - and they’re right, even the best iPad calculator there is (PCalc) feels weird to use just to do some quick sums because it fills up my 13-inch iPad Pro’s screen.

I remember some early fan-made concepts for the iPad had it running iPhone apps in floating windows - I think if Apple baked that functionality into the iPad OS from the beginning it would have meant a whole slew of small utility apps like the calculator, clocks and alarms, compass, etc wouldn’t need to be remade - but I’m sure they killed that idea because it wouldn’t motivate developers into making first-class iPad apps - and by “punishing” users with the terrible full-screen iPhone app mode it incentivises developers to put effort into making good native iPad apps - while at the same time making small utility apps an impossibility for iPad OS (though this doesn’t seem to have convinced Instagram...)

To be fair, they could exist now as a Today Screen widget, but then you can’t use it while you have another app open. It’s only with iOS 12+ multitasking support for slide-over and side-bar apps that a calculator app could now work - but it would still need to support full-screen mode - but we’re so close now! And given that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple did allow iPad apps to run only in sidebar or floating mode - but only if an app really won’t work as a full-screen app - and when/if they do, they’ll definitely launch their own calculator app.

Y’know the Apple Watch didn’t get a first-party calculator until 2019?

I really wish we could make custom Apple Watch faces, for instance. At least open up the API for it for developers - for example - Apple does not provide an Apple Watch face with both an analog and digital representation, and I can’t make it, beyond an app, which I’d have to constantly reopen...just us me do the things, Apple!

How is this anecdote at all analogous? I'm not seeing it.

It's in general putting Apple to like with the company and finishes with the statement:

> For companies like Apple, these acquisitions are more about killing competition than they are about improving their own services or user interfaces

You definitely see this with not just Apple but any big tech company. Either they acquire a company for their tech, for their people who work there (talent), for their data or finally, just to be able to kill their company/product.

> Either they acquire a company for their tech, for their people who work there (talent), for their data or finally, just to be able to kill their company/product.

To make the list more complete I've seen large tech companies acquire another tech company for their users and/or their brand. Think about Microsoft buying Github or Skype.

It certainly doesn't seem like either of those examples further your point. Both GitHub and Skype still exist as essentially the same core product they were at the time of acquisition, plus lots of new features which are clearly the results of substantial investment in the product by Microsoft.

GitHub was a complimentary product that fits into Microsoft’s strategy.

Skype was almost certainly some sort of scheme to kill Skype and bring lawful intercept to the platform. Skype at one point owned consumer voip globally.

For more on the origins of FM and other related tech, see _The Network: The Battle for the Airwaves and the Birth of the Communications Age_, Woolley and Hoye, 2016, https://www.worldcat.org/title/network-the-battle-for-the-ai...

Oh boy.

A lot of stuff known as quintessentially Apple today was bought by them; Siri, Logic, Final Cut, as well as tech like Face ID and soon AR.

Sigh is right. I used and paid for dark sky on Android, and now it's dead.

This is one way Apple tries to lock people in, and it's really frustrating. This isn't an efficient market situation, this is a monopolist protecting their walled garden kingdom by slurping up the cross platform innovators. I'm terribly disappointed in the Dark Sky authors for doing this to long time loyal customers, no matter what their paychecks look like.

Have you found good alternatives? I'm looking at meteoblue at the moment.

Why should Apple subsidize Android development?

How is iOS in any way, shape or form a monopoly?

Monopolies aren't the issue, anti-competive behavior is. Buying out a company and then shutting out your competitor's customers is pretty anti-competetive and also clearly bad for consumers.

There is a difference between being a monopoly and monopolist behaviour. One has successfully become the only one standing, one is seeking to shut out competition by one method or another. At least to my understanding.

This could in a sense be viewed as a form of bundling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundling_(antitrust_law)) where the services being bundled are the OS and the weather app.

The problem is that bundling is only considered problematic if your product is in a monopoly position. Bundling Internet Explorer was problematic for Windows because Windows was considered to have a monopoly in the OS market.

That depends on the interpretation, which differs by jurisdiction.

The EU, for example, aims its anti-competitive regulation towards firms who have a "dominant market position" rather than a "monopoly".

What competition? Is it “monopolistic” every time that any company buys a smaller company instead of developing it in house?

I don't think anyone's raising any problems about Apple buying a small company instead of developing comparable functionality in-house.

People are raising concerns over Apple buying a small company and shutting down its offerings to any platform that isn't Apple's.

So Apple should be forced to develop for a competitors platform?

Nobody's saying that either.

Apple has a pattern of purchasing companies that already offer products on other platforms and immediately shutting all non-iOS products down.

Obviously, they're free to run their business however they want, but it's also understandable that fans of those products might be upset that their app (or APIs that power other apps they enjoy) are no longer available simply because Apple did "their usual thing". Many companies (including Apple in rare cases) maintain or even develop codebases for applications across more than one platform.

There's nothing wrong with Apple buying companies to shut them down. It just sucks for the end-users who no longer get to use those companies' products for the sole reason of "they got bought by Apple".


A monopoly exists when there is a single seller of a commodity. Copyrights and patents are government-granted monopolies.

A broader definition is that a monopolist is a provider that has pricing power - the ability to set prices.

Apple has a monopoly on the channel to deliver iOS apps. Anyone seeking to deliver an iOS app must accept Apple's terms, including Apple's cut of revenue.

> Apple has a monopoly on the channel to deliver iOS apps.

That's only a monopoly in the same sense that McDonalds has a monopoly on Big Macs. It's within their own ecosystem. Customers can decide whether they want to buy into that ecosystem or choose an alternative (like Burger King, or Android).

Utter nonsense.

Buying a burger is an independent transaction. Buying a Big Mac one day doesn't make you less likely to buy a Whopper the next.

Buying a phone is an investment that locks you into that ecosystem for ~2 years (until you buy a new one), and once that time comes, both ecosystems encourage you to stick with your existing choice via purchase transfers, exclusives, and (more) seamless data transfers.

Your comparison would only make sense in a world where McD and BK competed by lacing their burgers with different drugs to get you chemically addicted.

Fuck Apple, fuck Google, and fuck Tim Cook in particular. This is fucking depressing, and almost makes COVID seem appealing. At least it would take your mind off this bullshit for a while.

We're not talking about a monopoly on selling particular phones as physical products. We're talking about apps, which often, but not always are much more 'burger-like'.

I think the best analogy would be video games on console platforms, does Sony have a 'monopoly' on PlayStation games? Well, kind of if you squint really hard, not that it seems to stand in the way of a vibrant and competitive console industry and that's the key issue. If there's a competitive market that is serving customer needs, and no deceptive practices so customers have a clear choice then it's hard to argue there's a market dysfunction such as a monopoly.

> does Sony have a 'monopoly' on PlayStation games?

Yes? The whole console industry is equally awful, and does the same bullshit. That said, there used to be a few mitigating factors for consoles, but they have never been relevant for phones:

1. Generational incompatibility: Since console generations generally weren't backwards-compatible, every new generation would more or less reset the playing field.

2. You could have multiple consoles connected to your TV. You probably won't bring multiple phones with you every day.

Utilities within a city are monopoly providers of electricity, water, and sewer services.

"That's only a monopoly in the same sense that McDonalds has a monopoly on Big Macs. It's within their own ecosystem. Customers can decide whether they want to buy into that ecosystem or choose an alternative" (like living in the next town over, or solar power, water delivery, and portable toilets).

The fact that alternatives exist (live somewhere else! live disconnected!) does not negate the fact that the utility is a monopoly provider of those services.

The primary difference between utility monopolies and the iOS monopoly is that utilities are a "natural" monopoly (there are significant infrastructure costs to enter the market of providing running water to homes in a city) whereas the iOS monopoly is government-granted via copyrights and contracts and digital locks that exclude competitors, and those locks are again protected by DMCA copyright law.

There is no natural reason there cannot be a competing app store on iOS, except that Apple wants to preserve its monopoly.

Would you let a home builder dictate what food delivery options you have? Why let a phone builder dictate what software delivery options you have?

> But shutting down the API and Android apps feels like an egregious move by Apple.

Yes but that's inline with what you'd expect Apple to do though. They won't support any non-Apple ecosystem unless they have to - it's just their way of doing things

>Yes but that's inline with what you'd expect Apple to do though.

I'd argue the exact opposite. They keep pronouncing they're now a services company. If that's TRULY their go-forward model, they should be selling services to the broadest possible audience. Shutting it down to other audiences tells me they're still a hardware company that can't see past their walled garden.

If anyone at Apple is listening, I'll say it for the thousandth time: Support Messages on Android and Windows and you will own the messaging market. If you keep kicking the can, someone will eventually take it from you. Just look at Blackberry and what you did to them... it can and will happen to you as well. BES was thought to be an impenetrable wall. Narrator: It wasn't.

This coming from someone who switched back to iPhone after the last round of goog privacy snafu's.

Apple has shown they are not afraid to build products that are 100% services (TV+, Music, etc). Just because a product is delivered as a service doesn't mean the correct strategy is to spray it everywhere.

It's not a matter of seeing past the walled garden. So long as there is a roadmap for deep platform integrations (identity, payments, AR, GPU, etc) and the desire for those integrations to be 100% available to _anyone_ with a blue bubble, the service will not leave Apple. IMO, it's about protecting the path of innovation while keeping a key feature (compatibility across all users) in play. Available is key because feature adoption spreads virally. Nobody wants to see someone do something in iMessage and then learn they can't do it.

You sound like you're reading from the RIM playbook circa 2004. It's not a matter of IF, it's a matter of WHEN the product that kills them shows up. The only reason that Facebook hasn't already supplanted them is their horrendous record on security - eventually a player without that track record will come along and eat their lunch. Facebook messenger became "good enough" just about at the exact time the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened - at which point even the non-nerds started deleting their accounts and abandoning their messaging platform.

I think the mistake you’re making is thinking Apple cares about messaging. They don’t. They care about the iOS platform. Messages gives them a competitive advantage in that sector. Yes a competing messaging service might surpass it, in fact this has already happened in China with WeChat. This goes some way to level of the playing field with Android over there.

But putting Messages on Android would level the playing field as well. It might give them the dominant messaging platform, at least outside a China, but so what? There’s no reason for them to care about that. They’re not Facebook.

I think if Apple didn't care about messaging they would just kill their investment and let SMS and 3P apps do the job. They wouldn't just throw money away to make something they didn't care about.

Please read my fourth sentence again. Messages cant give them a competitive advantage on their platform if it's on competing platforms.

No product is going to come around and kill iMessage because it isn't zero sum. iMessage has a guaranteed priority slot in the OS because Apple owns it. As an Apple user, I prefer iMessage over every other messaging platform. It is just more fun and has better expression. Period. It's too bad I can't iMessage everyone, but hey, I can iMessage lots of people. Don't think that will _ever_ go away.

> eventually a player without that track record will come along and eat their lunch.

And that player will need to be in the App Store, follow Apple's policies, and give them a cut of any IAPs. Either way, Apple wins.

iMessage just needs to have a better reputation than the built-in messenger for other platforms. It does _not_ need to beat all other messengers.

Apple is more in the "selling App Store access" business, not the "weather data" business.

What’s the purpose of “owning messaging?” All of the popular messaging companies make money via advertising.

Messaging needs a network effect. The other alternative besides advertising is charging customers. Can you point to one successful platform that has a network effect and charges customers?

Microsoft Windows is a successful platform that has a network effect and charges customers.

Microsoft Office (or maybe just Excel?) may qualify too, if VBScript is sufficient to label it as a platform.

Microsoft charges OEMs not customers. I doubt many customers paid for Windows.

Also for Office, what free alternatives were there when Office was gaining popularity?

Compare that to now. How did Windows Mobile work compared to Android?

> Microsoft Windows is a successful platform that has a network effect and charges customers.

This isn’t really true anymore…

This is why we should be hostile to Swift being used outside of the Apple ecosystem.

To all the folks trying to make Swift server development compelling: please stop. Use Golang or Rust instead.

Apple is an antagonist of other platforms/ecosystems, and there's no reason to believe they won't use Swift to force developers to buy and run Macbooks.

Edit: Would the multitude of downvoters provide a counter argument? Why should we tolerate this behavior from Apple?

I'm upset when other companies use the same playbook. There's an equal opportunity for all companies to behave better here. As it stands, I do not support this.

I didn't down vote you, but I'd personally prefer Kotlin to be the God language of multiplatform

> there's no reason to believe they won't use Swift to force developers to buy and run Macbooks

Other than the fact that there has been no signs of this in the past five years?

Yes but that's inline with what you'd expect Apple to do though.

Is it? Did Shazam stop working on Android when Apple ate it?

Honest question, since I don't have an Android device.

No. Although some apps like Apple Music on Android are clearly treated like redheaded stepchildren by Apple

Apple Music in general is a remarkably poor experience on any platform.

Shazam still works on Android. But Shazam usage data is valuable, arguably.

Perhaps you are right that data on listens is valuable to Apple.

Shazam on Android is a net producer of data, while Dark Sky on Android is a net consumer of data.

Where does Dark Sky get its weather data? Do they crowdsource any data from their apps? If so, then continuing to support Android devices could still provide value to Apple.

This is pure speculation but Shazam is a UK company and I'm 99% convinced that if they had locked the app to iOS, the European Commission would have blocked the deal and maybe sued them for anti-competitive practices.

This really sucks, I work for a stormwater environmental company and we were looking at darksky to replace our existing provider; DarkSky is one of the best providers of weather data.IBM also bought weather underground, I am really what these big tech companies want with forecasting/weather companies.

I just wish they kept the API running though.

Have you considered using the National Weather Service API directly? To someone with only a casual interest in this stuff it seems like it has what I would want, curious about shortcomings compared with the many commercial offerings? Especially considering it's their data that e.g. DarkSky resells.


The Dark Sky API combines lots of data sources, and its weather data is not limited to the US. I use it for cities all around the world. The US National Weather Service API cannot replace it.

Do you have any idea what other data sources they use? How do they do their minute-by-minute precipitation forecasts

Sorry, I didn't see your question until now. Unless I'm mistaken, they had a list of their sources somewhere on their website that I saw a few years ago. I don't think they said where their minute-by-minute came from, but I'm quite sure they calculated that data themselves.

How does Darksky do it's minute-by-minute precipitation forecasts, though? I only see hourly forecasts in the API. I'm guessing they are doing some of their own forecasting.

Your location data.

What business reason is there to support Dark Sky for non-Apple purposes?

If the API and apps were profitable, why did they sell to Apple?

How much did Dark Sky for Android cost? Was the 50th percentile revenue per Android user $0? Was the 90th percentile, too?

> I remember a few years ago Apple bought a fantastic public transit app (Embark?), shut it down and I still don’t think their Maps app comes close to the original transit app.

Semi-related but for transit apps, I much prefer the dedicated "Transit" app over any of the mapping services.


It has great visualizations of nearby lines and departures, gives bike/walk/taxi alternative times, allows you to select which transit systems, much more customizable in route planning, alerts on stops, schedule changes, when to leave, and it utilizes live data from other riders on where a bus or train is if you're willing to share your location during your ride.

Worked well in every North American city I've been in with a transit system.

>Semi-related but for transit apps, I much prefer the dedicated "Transit" app over any of the mapping services.

Have you tried Citymapper? It looks pretty similar in features and covers a different set of cities (there's some crossover but not as much as I'd of thought), might be useful.

From my use in London, out of Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Citymapper, I've found Citimapper to be the worst.

They're all basically working with the exact same data, but I find Apple Map transit directions to be the easiest to use, providing I'm in one of the limited cities it supports.

I've also never liked the built-in Transit functionality in either Google or Apple maps. It always seems like it's trying to be smart, rather than giving me the information I actually want. (The information I actually want is, "should I leave now, or will I just be stranded underground for 30 minutes?" I know how long it takes me to get down to the platform at the stations I frequent, but Apple and Google don't.)

I wrote my own little thing: https://jrock.us/mta.html. It just pulls the train arrival times for my home and work stations, the transfer stations along the way, and system-wide service advisories. It fits on one screen. The code is a trash fire (it's just jquery that injects raw HTML), but it works ;)

Seriously—as someone who lives in a place where a simple rainstorm can have major consequences, DarkSky's "It's going to rain in the next hour"-style alerts have become an important tool.

I'm an otherwise happy tvOS, macOS and MBP (though Android-using) customer but I'm going to need to re-consider lest I get bitten again in the future.

I've been a Dark Sky user since the beginning. I likely brought about a dozen users to their service over the years. This really sucks, but I'm sure for the founders it was worth it. Apple will lose a lot of viability in Dark Sky as they'll be cutting off sensor input - so I guess, I just don't understand the move. Sure, Apple weather sucks so maybe this replaces it?

I think the thing that frustrates me is that I've been a paying customer for a long time only for the parent purchaser to shut me out. Like I said, I'm glad for the founders, but as the parent here has stated - I highly doubt Apple will do much of anything with this.

As a founder or VC you just made a lot of money. As a normal employee you just found out that 1) buyouts don’t make you rich, 2) that “success” can look exactly like failure because your product got cancelled, and in about four months, 3) that promises from your ex boss are unenforceable.

The major upside for most employees is that they just got acquihired into Apple and they get to put that on their resume. Not everyone is so fortunate.

It wasn't until I read the commentary that I realized that Dark Sky has Android developers. That may end up being an uncomfortable choice between quickly learning Swift or being phased out.

A two year wind down time seems more than reasonable for an API though.

Reasonable considering the situation , sure. But the situation shouldn't be happening in the first place. I could understand closing off the API even. What I don't accept is shuttering the Android app.

I wish they would keep that alive in even a limited way and keep all the fanciness to Apple at the very least.

Apple's walled garden is more and more a shiny cage. Vote with your dollars and support more open alternatives. I switched to a Note 10 recently after using iPhones for years and I'm really enjoying the overall experience and the flexibility to do many things with my hardware that Apple feels I shouldn't be allowed to do.

I ended up having to use an Apple device temporarily after my previous phone died. While there are things I really enjoy about Apple, the lack of choice is a dealbreaker for me.

I can't buy a kindle book through the app on my device, because iBooks.

Added: Ended up back on an Android device pretty quickly.

It's possible to strip drm from kindle and other books to avoid getting tied to a platform by prior purchases.


Absolutely, and I do this when buying from Kindle. I don't consider Kindle to be perfect either, but it's still MY choice to make, not Apples. If I want to buy from Kobo or from Kindle, why should I have to do that in a web browser or on my desktop.

Actually you can buy the kindle book, you just have to use the web browser (not ideal I know, but just letting you know in case you find yourself in that position again)

> because iBooks

It's not because of iBooks, it's because Amazon would have to pay 30% to Apple if they sold through the app.

So you switched to an Android device that runs proprietary Google Play Services and proprietary Samsung bloatware....

Yes because it allows me to do the following things:

1. Sideload apps that my government has decided they don't like and want banned.

2. Use real firefox to support diversity on the web

3. Use open audio codecs like FLAC without tying myself in knots

It's not perfect but in the respects that really matter it's a lot more free.

At least for #3


And then there is that whole running an operating system written by a company whose whole m.o. is to invade your privacy.

I consider that tying myself in knots. On my Samsung I just copy the files over and play them

Privacy and openness are two independent, orthogonal concepts. I agree Apple has a better overall story on privacy but I care more about openness, especially in the current political climate.

At this point the only two things that are stopping me from leaving Apple:

- The hope that iPhone 9 will not be a gigantic phone and it might actually be around the size of SE.

- There's nowhere to go to. Can't go back to generic Android. That's just a non-starter. There are no OEMs who supports a privacy focussed Android ROM and sends "timely" patches and OS upgrades (there are some niche ones but they will either never start direct service/support in my country or in a decade maybe).

> The hope that iPhone 9 will not be a gigantic phone and it might actually be around the size of SE.

Rumors point to a big phone :(

So you move from apples to googles? At least Apple pretends to care about privacy.

Privacy is an interesting argument. Apple theoretically respects privacy more, but you have to take their word. You don't have control of your device.

Android phones on the other hand at least have the option of installing a variant that is more privacy focused, such as Copperhead[1].

I can install F-Droid and follow some of the other recommendations on the Free Software Foundation website to "Free my Android"[2]. All without having to jailbreak my device.

Now, granted this is an expert action, but it allows people that care about it to accomplish it. Do you lose a lot of functionality? Sure, but all Security and Privacy is about trade-offs.

[1]: https://copperhead.co/android/ [2]: https://fsfe.org/campaigns/android/liberate.en.html

For every "expert" who takes advantage of those options on Android, there are thousands upon thousands of Apple users who get better privacy by default.

So all in all, you have three options: No privacy used by billions (Android), a little privacy used by millions (iOS) or some privacy used by thousands (Android derivatives).

If you are willing to sacrifice privacy, why not go android? If you do not want to, you must buy an android phone and tweak it. Using Apple is but a compromise.

We talk about privacy as an absolute but privacy from whom? I'm mostly concerned about the government getting and abusing my data and if I use iCloud backups all my data is right there for them to take. With Google's activity controls I feel like I have more control over what they're storing.

That said I do wish there was a third option besides Apple and Google.

maybe in 10 years pine or purism will have usable phones.

Crap. I liked Dark Sky. I actually downloaded it because Apple Weather predicted 50 degrees F and it turned out to be 30degrees F with another 30 windchill. Grats Dark Sky founders.

It keeps greeting me every morning with the weather in Cupertino, though I’m three thousand miles away. It seems it forgets my location every upgrade.

> they deserve a lot of credit for not selling user data

How can you say that on a day that they sold all the user data?

How do you know they did? You can buy a company without handing over any sensitive user data. I doubt Apple needs the data if it’s more of an aquihire.

Yes you can technically do anything, but unless the press release says "Dark Sky is joining Apple but is also deleting all customer data from its servers beforehand" it's safe to assume that Apple owns the entire company (including its physical and intellectual assets) unless proven otherwise.

Jesus christ. That’s the second time in 3 months that I’ll have to rewrite rainmeter skins to change weather API. How hard can it be to just point to data? Time to just go NOAA.

Interesting that Google makes a ton of apps for iOS but Apple doesn't go the other way.

That's because Google is an ad company while Apple is a hardware company.

Apple is a services company now according to them, and as demonstrated by the Apple tv app on my Samsung TV.

Services != Advertisement. Advertisement is about collecting data from potential customers and offering that to advertisers. Services in the context of Apple is about selling the hardware hoping to capitalize on the ecosystem of their services (music, news, icloud, etc). In extreme cases such as Sony who sells PlayStations ("hardware") at a loss hoping to recover it from game sales ("services"). Apple is more like Sony than Google.

There is still a few years to go by for Apple's service bucks to surpass the hardware bucks, while Sony (the gaming division) is loosing money on hardware.

Apple has not described themselves as a services company. Tim Cook has said that growth in the company will come from services. So the company focuses on that. Apple provides some services, it is not a services company.

Apple is trying its best to brand itself as a services company, but its actions show that it is not ready to actually embrace the platform openness that comes with it. Look at Microsoft for a much better example of a services-focused company which also sells hardware.

not really, because iphones have ridiculous huge profit margins. Apple services earnings is not even close to iphone selling earnings. But one does boost the other so that's what they are doing. But there is still a few years to go by for Apple's service bucks to surpass the hardware bucks.

Google wants people to use their software, Apple wants people to use their hardware.

It's not that interesting if you take a moment to think about how either company makes money.

AFAIK there are two Apple apps on Android: one for Apple Music, and another for migrating your data from Android to iOS.

Technically five apps across two profiles:

- Move to iOS - Apple Music - Beats - Shazam - Shazam Lite

I'm actually a little surprised they didn't release Apple TV+ for Android.

Profiles - https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Apple+Inc.&h... - https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Apple,+Inc.&...

I've used some of their Android apps (Apple Music for the longest time). It feels like someone made them as a weekend project and then Apple forgot to take it down.

In Tokyo I was blown away by Apple Maps- found it way more useful than Google (gmaps is my default). Maybe only useful to tourists who are used to simpler transit systems, but I was happy to see Apple was driving the state of the art there.

I think this is the new Apple Map, the old Apple Map and Map Data from Japan is possibly the worst of all maps in developed countries.

Everyone I know in Japan defaults to Map from Yahoo.

Apple consistently shuts down Apple apps, Android apps, and/or APIs as part of their terms of purchase over the past decade.

Apple always is rough with acquisitions of consumer stuff. Workflow is a great example, many of the third party integrations and Apple Watch support went poof.

And Workflow is one the better acquisitions…

> A large economic downturn means a lot of small, independent companies will struggle to survive. Being swallowed by a megacorp might be one of the few ways to keep something alive.

This occurred to me as well, almost as soon as the economic impacts of COVID-19 was apparent. And in particular that this will strenghen the power of large coporations that can weather the storm, at the expense of smaller companies, and competition.

>A large economic downturn means a lot of small, independent companies will struggle to survive. Being swallowed by a megacorp might be one of the few ways to keep something alive.

this is going to huge oil company consolidation now

This isn't because of the economic downturn. This is because just before COVID-19, Saudia Arabia and Russia began an oil supply war.

It's a pissing match between MBS and Putin. MBS/SA wanted to increase production which lowers prices, Putin wanted to maintain current levels because lower prices let US shale oil back into the market.

Prices dropped to the mid USD 30s per barrel.

Then COVID-19 hit.

The result is that oil has dropped now to mid USD20s/barrel.

US shale oil producers are uneconomical below USD40/barrel.

Probably this is for aqui-hire + customer lock-in, so I doubt if we'll see any material improvements on the Apple weather app anytime soon.

Just like Maps, weather is a must have app so Apple is trying to do it in house. IMO, that's all there is with this move.

> Android and Wear OS App

> The app will no longer be available for download. Service to existing users and subscribers will continue until July 1, 2020, at which point the app will be shut down. Subscribers who are still active at that time will receive a refund.

IBM bought the Weather Underground app and ruined it, and now Dark Sky was bought by Apple and they're ruining that too. Now I will have zero good weather apps for Android. Just so Apple can flex on Google, even though I was a paying customer for both. During a major pandemic when public services are heavily reduced and poor access to good weather apps could put people in danger.

Extremely disgusting and extremely horrible. Always feels great to know that my reward for supporting startups is to be cannon fodder to rounding errors at major corporations.

I cannot begin to say how much IBM ruined Weather Underground. The app was _perfect_! I was thrilled to pay for it.

Now it's probably the worst app on my phone and I should just delete it. It takes forever to start, more than half the time it loads no data, and even if it is loaded the UI redesign has made the whole thing slow and useless.

Would love suggestions for another app on Android.

Restating a comment from about a year ago[0]:

If you are in the United States, nothing beats getting the forecast straight from the horses mouth (NWS that is). Some companies are notorious for producing 30+ day forecasts, which can't have any meaningful levels of skill.

NOAA/NWS should just create their own mobile application. I use Wx[1], which parses NWS data directly and can be found on f-droid[2] and g---le play.

Granted, Wx doesn't follow Material Design for Android in the slightest, but I like it that way because it's very information-dense, snappy, and light (unlike r--ct "native" and other JS toolkits out there).

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19775291

[1]: https://gitlab.com/joshua.tee/wx

[2]: https://f-droid.org/en/packages/joshuatee.wx/

You might be interested to know that private sector weather forecasting firms have a long history of lobbying to prevent NOAA/NWS from building its own end user services and apps [0].

I agree that NWS [text] forecasts are usually the best, though it can be time consuming to digest them. Nate Silver's book [1] makes the interesting point that commercial forecasts almost always reduce the quality of the input data they're given from NOAA, but that part of this boils down to incentives: Nobody complains if you forecast a small chance of rain and it turns out to be sunny. The problem spot is in ruining someone's picnic. Hence, forecasts tend to bias heavily towards rain.

[0]: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-06-14/trump-s-p...

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Signal_and_the_Noise

Why do you feel the need to censor the words Google and React?

"If you are in a densely-populated area of the United States..."

Your blanket statement doesn't always hold. This is more accurate.

I'm not sure, NWS does a good job of interpolating for regions without a weather station, even taking into account coastal effects and elevation. In my experience (in a rural, montane environment) it works pretty well if you specify your coordinates, not just the zipcode.

Have there any been any comparisons of the commercial services to NWS? That would be an interesting casual study.

Edit: There are some additional interesting comments downthread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22740480

I'm not sure

I am. Spend some time in the desert southwest, particularly on indian reservations. You'll find that NWS temperatures are regularly off by 10-20°. But that's still better than Weather Underground, which can be off by as much as 50°.

One thing I will give the NWS credit for is the wind forecasts. Those things are spot-on at least 90% of the time.

I've lived in 15 cities in a dozen states, and what I've noticed is that if you're in a large city, or east of a large city, the forecasts are great.

But if you're west of a large city, or in a smaller city, it's hit-or-miss. This makes sense, as the better forecasters tend to end up in the larger markets.

I see. That's interesting, you may want to send those comments to your regional forecast office. They have several citizen-science programs like SKYWARN and their ham radio observers, that help them improve their regional forecasts.

Opposite experience here. Services like Dark Sky and Wunderground are so inaccurate up here in Alaska that it's dangerous. NWS is also often pretty wrong but way less wrong than anything else. Interesting to hear your

Larger cities are built on plains because they are more accessible. Easier to forecast without crazy mountains in the way.

No. Almost every medium and large city in the United States was built because of its access to water and shipping. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, PORTland, Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Charleston, and on and on and on.

Even smaller cities like Minneapolis, Buffalo, Sioux Falls, Albany, and hundreds more are located where they are because waterfalls and rapids made them the farthest extent of water travel before rapids or waterfalls or other hazards made the route too difficult.

I agree. I haven't found anything that compares to the old Weather Underground app's plot of weather data. It was such a brilliant way to convey so much data quickly and clearly.

After finding no substitutes, I started making my own weather app (for my own private use) this week to duplicate that functionality. But of course I was using the Dark Sky API which will now get shut down. I just can't win this one!

The reviews for the app are pretty amazing. It went from one of the highest rated weather apps to 2.5 stars in a matter of days: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wundergrou...

Totally agree. I find I have to load it, close and reopen the app about 95% of the time. Hugely bummed these two apps are going into the wastebin. Certainly leaves a huge void for us Android users.

I've been using this one since underground stopped being useful.


Sadly at some point they weren't able to pay for the dark sky API anymore and since then the quality of forecasts is a bit less convincing. I'm still rather shocked by the low reviews though, for me it works well and I love that you can add a dozen cities and see the forecast.

That app also changed ownership a couple years ago - it's still functional, but I don't think can be downloaded if you don't already have it.

Just a heads-up, that link is broken.

No it's not. It's only available if you bought it before it changed hands and providers, as I did.

Supposedly they're still fixing bugs from the new weather provider before it's made public, but it hasn't been updated in ten months. I doubt it will be improved anymore, and I don't really use it much since the new provider is mediocre at best.

I would gladly pay money for a weather app that was nothing but their line graph. It was so simple and clean. I often took screenshots and shared with friends. The new version is useless, but I cannot find a replacement.

I use Geometric Weather [1].

It's beautifully designed, has an excellent selection of widgets, and is open source.

You can even set your lock screen to be a live wallpaper of the current weather.

[1] https://github.com/WangDaYeeeeee/GeometricWeather/

Use the native Android weather app hidden in the widgets.

I really like Windy

You can try Yr: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=no.nrk.yr&hl=e... It is an app made by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute afaik and works quite well all over the world. I'm curious on how well it works where you live! They have open API's as well: https://api.met.no

I came here to say this. No tracking, it's a public service and the UI is great. Thanks to the Norwegian Metereological Institute for making this available to everyone.

I really think this shows how direly we need "public interest" services on our phone.

Another great option is Klara - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.androworks...

Great information density, clean interface and has by the far the best widget of any weather app I've seen. It manages to display so much information with graphs without being visually overloaded.

Know of any apps like this that are available for iOS? I loved the old wunderground app's graphs and have been trying to find a replacement for ages...

just tried this and its graph-centric UI is exactly the thing I loved for years about Wunderground before it went dramatically downhill.

But please, let's not tell anyone else about this - I am tired of my favorite apps always getting ruined.

Hey, truly thanks for this. It's not Dark Sky, but it's not bad, and I never would've heard about it were it not for folks on HN. I'm getting good data for where I live, the UI is nice and clean. It's a start!

I was going to suggest Yr as well! I live in France and it seems to work reasonably well.

Thank you, this looks really good.

I am not seeing a live radar view

I think that only works in Norway where they have radar data from all the weather stations, or however that works.

It's literally bonkers to me how many people sell out. Is the VLC guy the only person with some integrity? Can we not be satisfied with the money we make from subscribers instead of selling everything including the kitchen sink to some corporate behemoth to swallow it up and kill every open service?

The same thing is happening in the podcasting ecosystem right now. it's turning more and more into a walled garden.

Large amounts of money offer much more tangible freedom than a moral victory, and can lead to many more moral victories down the line.

Alternatively, people just like money.

I'd much rather take whatever large amount of cash to basically ensure my needs and those of my future offsprings are taken care of for a very long time, if not for life.

I haven’t had that many conversations with founders, but I’ve had a few, and I suspect that like a lot of thing there’s a fiction that the hopeful believe and the entrenched have absolutely no incentive to correct. Not as bad as record labels for new bands, but not a whole lot better.

That fiction, if I have it right, is that selling your company is a merger. That you are a lesser peer and that you will still have a great deal of influence in the resulting company. And there are people who manage that, but most do not. And not only that, your payout is delayed and contingent on you keeping your former employees from getting too surly. Sometimes for several years.

And since your story was supposed to be about how much you sacrificed and how hard you worked to sell your company and became successful, are you really going to be frank and honest with yourself and those who ask, or are you going put on a brave face?

I wonder how many of the “money doesn’t buy happiness” nouveau-riche mean something like the problems listed above when they say that. “I reached my goal and it wasn’t what I wanted.”

I used to think the same thing, but what about the situations where people don't sell out and just see their features copied by the corporate behemoth, wholesale? That scenario seems to play out often as well (g---le+ and diaspora always come to mind).

I suppose if the goal is to just see some technology or technique or idea become more broadly adopted, this isn't a bad thing. But what about poor-implementations of a good concept (UI/UX bloat, user-hostile business models, etc.) Honestly, I'm not sure. Is this analogous to the trends that drive consolidation of firms in general?

I guess this is a round-about say of saying that selling-out is probably the most rational thing to do, but please prove me wrong.

> g---le+

What is the purpose behind "censoring" Google's name here...?

It's an attempt to hide from the scripts that notify people or teams when some company is being mentioned. It's helpful in some environments.

I really take VLC for granted, now you've pointed this out!

Every man has his price...

It's bonkers how bad all the weather apps are for Android.

I use Yr weather (from the Norwegian Broadcasting Institute and Meteorological Institute) which is... fine, but their source of data isn't great for my location.

Almost everything else I've tried is some combination of slow, poorly designed, or not-privacy-respecting, even if I'm willing to pay.

I felt a little slighted (in a cheeky way) by the "zero good weather apps for Android" comment. Started writing then decided against it. Then I got this email in my inbox from a user :-)

Dark Sky is shuttering their Android app after being acquired by Apple. People are saying things like "Now I will have zero good weather apps for Android. "


Flowx is better than Dark Sky!

I used to drive a convertible. I liked Dark Sky because I would get a warning notification if it was going to rain right were I was and I could go put the top up.

I haven't been able to find this type of notification in Flowx. Am I missing this, or by chance is it cmoing?

No, there are no notification. I plan to add a notification editor one day where you can configure any notification you want.

That said, the to-do list is super long so it might be a while before this feature is done. I depends on demand.

That said, Rainviewer is working on predicting rain from radar images for up to 2 hours ahead. Check them out and ask when this feature might appear. They might have beta testing and your situation sounds like a good test case.

Thanks for the update

I like the UI, and I'll commit for now, but the end game for the constant churn of useful weather apps is an open source app that can't be sold. Someday someone will offer you X dollars and you'd be a fool not to accept and us users will be doing this rodeo all over. Just remember us when your partying on your p-diddy yacht.

This was like the one Android app I paid for. Ugh. Also super annoyed.

You are exactly the reason why companies like Dark Sky can be bought by Apple: you have only ever paid for one Android app. That does not make a vibrant app economy.

Another thing would help a more vibrant app economy would be if more teams made high-quality apps that I want that I can pay a few dollars a year in exchange for no advertisements or tracking.

"IBM bought the Weather Underground app and ruined it ..."

I never used the WU app, but I do use the WU website regularly and feel that it is very slow and spammy and bad UI, etc., etc.

The problem is, I cannot find anyone else to give me a 10 day forecast.

How can I tease out a 10-day forecast from weather.gov ?

NWS doesn't do regular daily/hourly forecasts beyond a week, but they do publish "extended range outlooks" which provide probabilities for precipitation and temperature in the 6-10 day and 8-14 day range. Pretty low-res in both temporal and geographical resolution, though, due to the uncertainties: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/forecasts/extended_ra...

You could also use the NOAA's global weather simulations, some of which go out to 16 days: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/model-data/model-datas...

My understanding is that 10 day forecasts just aren’t accurate enough to really mean anything, so most weather sources don’t publish them.

Just came here to say "fuck". I'm so let down. Can't have nice things, I guess.

I was about to do the same. Frankly, I'm pissed.

My dad owns a base station that uploads data to WU and since the takeover I've not been able to get a proper API key to have him pull his own data from the WU API.

Luckily the base station is easy to scrape for the raw data locally, but still.

It's especially frustrating when two paragraphs above they said this:

> There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone.

So how exactly does cutting off literally billions of potential users allow them to "reach far more people"?

I've been using Overdrop [0] for a few months now. Has great widgets and can select from a few different sources for the weather data too.

[0] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=widget.dd.com....

it says "powered by dark sky", so since they are shutting down the api, wont this app likely stop working soon?

It has always provided the option to select between Dark Sky, Weather Bit or AccuWeather. So while Dark Sky may go away, at least there are two other options, and hopefully they'll add others in light of this news.

I didn't realize that IBM bought WU. Explains why I saw the quality tank... I wondered what was up. I ended up deleting it.

Try Carrot on iOS. It is really good. It is famous for its mini game and snarky robot comments that predict the weather. But the core weather is great and has the best interface.

Carrot, by default, uses the Dark Sky API. It's one of the few apps that lets you choose an alternate data source. Wunderground used to be the best choice, but that API vanished last year. With Dark Sky gone, none of the remaining options are particularly good, if you live in the USA.

Try Hello Weather - https://helloweatherapp.com/!

Also powered by Dark Sky.

Just two FYIs: it uses Dark Sky's API and it's also available on Android.

They're not ruining it, they're just not making their product available on a competitor device

Which ruins it for a large portion of the userbase. Do you have a good product if it only runs on a Nokia NGage? It's a grey area

Let's not forget that, at least in the US, weather data is publicly funded and excellent forecasts are available at a very granular level. For example, here's the weather at Apple Park: https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-122.009263237...

... And here's the graph for up-to-the-minute detail: https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=37.3367&lon=-1...

It ain't pretty, but it works and you've already paid for it.

> It ain't pretty, but it works and you've already paid for it.

I've been following the public weather data scene for a long time and I'm pretty sure that UX for all the NOAA/NWS web sites is horrible by design, so to speak.

After all, there are plenty of well designed .gov sites (e.g. https://recreation.gov/), but just try browsing around weather.gov for a few minutes. It's horrible. I mean, the data is top-notch and it technically works, but the experience is awful. Weather.gov has had the exact same site for at least a decade.

This is completely speculative, but I would not be surprised to find a link between campaign contributions from the likes of the The Weather Channel and the decision to completely underfund the web development teams at NWS. Nothing else explains why some of the United States most valuable public data is presented on a web site barely more functional than Craigslist.

The stagnation of the public NOAA site is mostly AccuWeather's doing.

The local radar maps still use flash for loop animation so they're going to have to do something in the next year to keep that going.


What did AccuWeather do?

They lobbied to prevent open access to tax payer funded data. NOAA is intentionally underfunded to prevent them from making a modern site as a compromise.

John Oliver did a really good deep dive on this topic last fall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGn9T37eR8

There may be a level of lobbying involved but I would also say websites like recreation are consumer facing, the weather data is used by actual researchers and practitioners. Layouts become a lot more sticky and efficient when people like that are your target.

> I'm pretty sure that UX for all the NOAA/NWS web sites is horrible by design

That's spot on, John Oliver did a whole episode about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGn9T37eR8&feature=emb_titl...

Thanks, I was going to dig up the link until I saw your post.

An interesting story is when Trump nominated the CEO of Accuweather to be the head of NOAA. This is someone who would have benefited from keeping NOAA and the National Weather Service from doing their jobs. Typically the head of NOAA is a scientist, not a businessman with obvious conflicts of interest. Fortunately, it didn't stick. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/12/trump-noaa-chief-a...

Dark Sky (formerly forecast.io)'s entire point was that they, unlike most weather apps, aren't just a prettified version of publicly available weather data. Dark Sky's selling point was that they also used crowdsourced data, including user reports of rain and IIRC data from app user's sensors in their phones, to predict "hyperlocal" weather.

I use Dark Sky and it is typically much much more accurate than other weather apps when it comes to heads up of inclement weather coming in the next ~hour, and I'm very sad to see Apple killing it.

On the other hand, if they integrate it into iOS's default weather app, that would open up a whole trove of walking sensors. And potentially make it the most accurate forecasting service by far.

But closed off and only accessible if you buy Apple devices. So this is yet another example of a private corporation taking a useful, accessible resource that people rely on, and gating it behind their own services so they can extract rent. God I love capitalism!

Dark Skies was already a private company....

They at provided an API and web interface, one that you could use to get forecasts on any device, the data can be presented in any format. They're closing the website and the API, so you only will get the hyperlocal forecast from an Apple device, and only by Apple's UI choices. Closing off services behind a walled garden and charging an entrance fee is Apple's business model.

So you don’t know about their podcast directory API that’s been open and free for over a decade?

Almost every podcast player for iOS and Android use it.

>The API will continue to function through the end of 2021.

I need an API key. They have stopped issuing them today.

Dark Sky was not a public service, it was a private enterprise. If it weren’t for capitalism, Dark Sky wouldn’t have existed.

Their API was public, and it is now becoming private so Apple can seek rent. Profit over utility, that's what capitalism wants.

> If it weren’t for capitalism, Dark Sky wouldn’t have existed.

If we enabled citizens of this country to pursue their passions by providing them with a UBI, it absolutely would have existed.

More data for the big company to store on you.

Damn it.

My primary use of the Dark Sky API is for minute-by-minute forecasts. I've yet to find another API that can answer the question "Do I have enough time to walk my dog before it starts raining?"

This is exactly what I found it didn't work for. I live in Seattle, and basically gave up on it (with today's news, I'll uninstall it from my Android phone). I could look out the window at steady rain, and Dark Sky would still be telling me it was going to be clear all day. Like that more often than not.

That's bizarre but actually can't be Dark Sky's fault.

Switch to radar view in the app and it will show you the exact geographical distribution of rain in your city right now. This comes from national weather data.

If that's inaccurate then something is wrong with the government data. Or maybe Seattle rain is somehow much patchier at a finer level than government data is able to resolve?

FWIW in New York City its assessment of the next five minutes has always been literally perfect. It might say it's going to go from hard rain to nothing in two minutes... and it does, right on time.

It gets increasingly noisy as you go to 15, 30, and 60 min out, though.

Radar data is hugely noisy and it can be difficult to suss out what is cloud cover with no precipitation, or what is precipitation, plus filtering out biomass and dust. All of these show up as radar returns. There can be shadowing. Dark Sky does its own pre-processing/denoising of radar and so that can lead to different results from NOAA.

Ah that's really interesting, thanks for the info.

I'm curious then what users see in Seattle when it's raining out the window but the Dark Sky radar maps says it isn't.

Are there swiss-cheese holes that are obvious processing artifacts? Is the whole city somehow below some threshold so it doesn't show rain anywhere? Are there patterns of extreme local variation in rain that get mistaken for noise and deleted?

The solution is not necessarily simple, but identifying the culprit should be fairly obvious, no?

Really recommend reading http://jackadam.github.io/2011/how-dark-sky-works/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_radar#How_a_weather_ra... to get something of a handle on it

For one thing, the resolution of radar is finite where one "pixel" (gate) is quite large, and everything under it is assumed to be constant. Precipitation at a spot on the ground is the result of everything happening from sea level up 40,000', and we don't have exact properties (temperature, dew point, humidity) for the atmosphere at all of those locations. We can fill in some gaps with models on supercomputers, but they're just models.

This was my experience too. Perfect in Boston, recently great in Singapore, pretty much useless in Melbourne.

I’d like to know more about their modeling. How much do they need to specialize on region for accurate prediction or data collection? Are varying prediction qualities based on different climates, or is it from bias in data collection?

I live in Seattle now but used to live in Ohio. I agree that the minute by minute is pretty much useless in Seattle but it was incredibly accurate in Ohio. I have numerous stories where I was able to get to shelter or remain sheltered minutes before a sprinkle turned into a downpour.

I know nothing about weather, but I have to assume the weather patterns in Seattle are just very difficult to predict or analyze at such a fine granularity.

The weird thing I know someone who swears by Dark Sky in Seattle, while for me it's been pretty inaccurate.

I think these personal takes are plagued with confirmation bias.

My go-to for this is an app called Radar Scope [0], which is the best $10 I've ever spent on an app. Its very easy to pull it up and look at the radar products with a useful color scale (as opposed to others which make light showers look like the apocalypse). Based on the quality I assume its target market is for stormchasers and weather professionals.

Its fast and has most of the radar products, including velocities. I originally bought it to answer the question "Should I shelter from this tornado?"

The downside is that there is no forecasting, but thats freely available through the NWS [1].

Not affiliated, just stoked. [0] https://www.radarscope.app/ [1] https://www.weather.gov/

With NOOA/weather.gov you can even link directly to an animated gif for radar, such as this one for Minneapolis: https://radar.weather.gov/ridge/lite/N0R/MPX_loop.gif

Same here, for the website. I actually find their forecasts beyond a few hours pretty bad¹, so I use weather.gov, but I haven't found anything as good at telling me whether it will rain in the next 20 minutes.

1: Both seemly wrong more often and more importantly unclear whether they mean a greater or lesser chance or amount of rain or snow, which makes a big difference when you are, say, biking to work.

If you're not consuming the API, AccuWeather's MinuteCast is pretty nice!

Thanks, it does look like a good replacement.

AccuWeather has MinuteCast which does the same thing

I was about to ask if anyone knows a decent API to build my own product off of, and I found out weather.gov has an API available without requiring a key for now, they just ask that you include contact information in your user agent so they don't accidentally block you.


Ain't pretty matches my experience.

My team pulls a lot of weather data for utility engineering work we do, and the NOAA APIs have proven very hard to navigate. Some data only available via FTP, lots of different weather station networks with different metrics (e.g. lots of variety in the cloud/irradiance data).

Darksky provided a nice clean interface, but I guess we'll go back to cobbling things together directly from NOAA.

While I agree that the NOAA data is hard to work with, these more 'polished' api providers come with their own set of risks. For example, Dark Sky is forecasting a snow storm in my Bay Area coastal town[1]. That seems unlikely. Also, there is another paid service that I am familiar with that had a nice clean API with consistently formatted data, but it turned out their data was wildly inaccurate.

[1] https://darksky.net/forecast/37.6021,-122.4775/us12/en

That is delightfully ridiculous.

Any clue how hard it would be to create an open-source alternative to the DarkSky API? My company needs one, too. Maybe we could band forces and organize an open-source alternative. I know it won't be as good, but I'm curious what other people in our position think...

Hi, I make the toolkit that Dark Sky (and others) use for their visuals. Been in the weather/aviation mobile space a long time.

I'd floated a Weather-Service-In-A-Box to my clients a few months ago, but got no takers. The idea was something you could set up on a small number of instances fairly quickly and leave running to harvest NOAA/ECMWF/etc data. Fairly simple front end to answer queries. Data tiles for the visuals. That sort of thing.

If people (with money) are interested now, hit me up.

I process weather simulation data from around the world (22 data sources). My servers process around 400-500 GB of data a day and I store about 120 GB which gives me about 5 days of historic simulation data and up to 16 days forecast data.

Storage and processing is relatively easy since it's just a matter of throwing resources at it. However, it'll be damn expensive to store months or years of historic simulation data.

The difficult part is writing and maintaining the processing scripts. The different weather services store data in different formats, have different ways to download the data and sometimes change data structures or fall over.

Edit: removed a spurious sentence.

This is very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

If you wouldn't mind: how do you go about creating a simulation around the empirical data? This seems to be very core to how Dark Sky is able to provide such accurate realtime data for geographies in between weather stations.

We'd be interested!

I think it will be pretty hard to do well in open source though. Server costs and keeping things working when NOAA (etc.) sources change is probably going to be expensive.

There's no reason a running service couldn't also opensource its back end code. It does provide an avenue for people to tinker, potentially improve, and self-host if they have the resources available or the service itself goes under.

There are also a lot of open projects that distribute the work of handling tweaks to parsers and source lists when the upstreams drift.

Even globally I can't imagine the minutely data from reporting stations everywhere being "big data", maybe in the 10s of gigabytes a day (very rough guess, I haven't looked into this specifically)? I'd still be willing to bet API / web requests dwarf the processing and bandwidth requirements of the raw data for a public service like this.

That probably does put it pretty reasonably in the realm of self-hosting if you put a threshold on how much historical data you want to keep and geofence the region you care about.

If it’s open source there’s no specific requirement for the project to provide a hosted instance.

Develop the (Ideally extensible) logic to parse a given government funded weather source into a common format, and have “API consumers” run their own instance of services (or set them up an instance for $ and use the profits to help with project costs).

Not disagreeing, just extending. Dark Sky merges multiple weather data sources, even in a single country, and I use it for a private app that deals with weather all around the world. An open source project could just be code, not a service, but that code should have a config where you specified which sources to fetch and how often instead of choosing "a given govt-funded weather source".

Of course, if it's designed to be extensible then definitely non-public sources could be added, but whether they'd be supplied as included modules/plugins or need to be developed (and then optionally contributed upstream) by users of a given non-public service is a question of practicality and sometimes cost (if it's a paid service an OSS project may not be able to justify the cost of a licence/account for the service to develop/test against).

Happy to get a group together and discuss! Please email me: `brian${'at'}bractlet${'dot'}com`

Came here searching for alternative. Didn't find one in the comments so I did some probing. Open Weather Map looks like a decent alternative to Dark Sky: https://rapidapi.com/blog/dark-sky-vs-openweathermap/

I'd be interested in working on this.

Happy to get a group together and discuss! Please email me: `brian${'at'}bractlet${'dot'}com`

I’d join in too

Happy to get a group together and discuss! Please email me: `brian${'at'}bractlet${'dot'}com`


Happy to get a group together and discuss! Please email me: `brian${'at'}bractlet${'dot'}com`

I develop Flowx, an Android weather app, and I agree, it is difficult to pull data from NOAA and other weather services around the world.

Depending on your needs, I may have data you can use. I only process forecast weather simulation data - not weather stations. I'm a solo dev so I can't offer high levels of service, etc... but feel free to contact me.

Pretty much the same for me. What a disappointment.

More importantly, this should be protected and demanded to be expanded upon by citizens. No one can acquire and shut down the National Weather Service, nor any apps they develop with public money released to the public domain. Protect public goods.

Dark sky is not a public good, it's a for-profit business that puts a shiny interface on the same information available to everyone. It also added user reporting and analytics, so added material value. The app cost money. Why don't you lobby your congressman to have NOAA develop a better app instead? You can't make a privately-developed program a "public good"; citizens can't just "demand" that dark sky remains independent and expands because they didn't pay for it. Either lobby the government for a better app, wait for the private sector to develop a better app, or lobby the government to attach a license to the data prohibiting commercial use (though this would kill the other apps, too).

You might re-read my comment. Nowhere do I say Dark Sky is a public good. I do lobby my congressperson for NOAA to have more open data practices and better funding for app development. Citizens can demand products from government be at parity or better than private corporation products, and government has the funding to do it. So why not do it?

I'll note that you edited your comment after I posted my reply, and are now making it sound like you didn't. It originally included something to the effect of, "This shouldn't be allowed to happen."

I made no such edit, and at no time made such a statement. I take no issue with Dark Sky being acquired (EDIT:) and my comment is only to vocally advocate for government-run services that cannot be acquired (to provide continuity of quality service and delivery of data products to citizens and the systems and apps they use to consume said services and data products).

These forecasts are based on the GFS, which has finite resolution at 9-km I think, so the "point forecasts" you get from weather.gov are limited by that.

https://mobile.weather.gov is a good one for mobile devices.

The Environment Canada forecasts are my preferred data source for weather, but the app desperately needs UI polish.

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