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Solar: Weather Review: There will Never be a more Elegant way to check the Weather

A lot of times when we talk about iPhone apps, the focus is on the depth of the features and how MUCH it can do. Who would have imagined that we’d be using our phones to set up detailed budgets, play console-quality games, or shoot and edit respectable video projects? All of that stuff happens on a daily basis, and yet, sometimes the best way for a developer to draw attention to themselves is to take it back to the essentials. We talked about this back when Clear (read full review) was released and checklist apps got redefined, and now a developer called Hollr is making us reconsider what we value most in a weather app… Solar : Weather is no competitor to apps like The Weather Channel or NOAA Hi-Def radar–it’s something else all together, and it’s pretty solid. Read on for more on what Solar does and doesn’t do and to figure out if it’s right for you.

Right from the first time you launch Solar, the comparison to Clear cannot be avoided. If you’ve used that brilliant to-do list app, then you’ll immediately recognized that the people at Hollr definitely took cues from its navigation and color scheme design. Solar shows you the weather on one dynamic, color-shifting screen. The use of text is extremely minimal–all you get is the date, time, current temperature, and location. You might be thinking–hey, I can get all that from the pre-loaded weather app that came with my phone. And you’d be right. But it doesn’t look like this, nor does it offer the addictive bits of interactivity that make Solar an app you’ll want to revisit.

The shifting colors that correspond to the temperature outside should be your first clue that there’s more to this single-screen weather display than it appears. Start using some of the most basic multitouch gestures and you’ll quickly discover more about the coming weather conditions. By scrolling down, you can wind the clock forward and watch as the colors, temperature, and time all respond accordingly. Just like that, with the flick of a finger, you’ve gotten a complete look at what the day holds. Because of the neat mechanic that revealed this information, you’re probably even more likely to remember whether or not there was a chance of rain after 6 p.m… But say you’re looking to find out what the coming days hold: for that data, pull down on the screen and you’ll be met with a quick view of the next three days, their high and low temperatures, and a cloud/sun/rain graphic that should give you a good idea about the chance of precipitation.

Beyond your current location, you can add other favorite places and have them be quickly accessible by pinching two fingers together or double tapping. SOLAR displays all your places as tiles, and this is also where you’ll find access to the minimal settings options that are available.

At this point, you pretty much know all that Solar can do. If you’re scratching your head as to why anyone would pay real money for a weather app that doesn’t even feature the most basic radar display, then perhaps this one’s not for you. But if you loved Clear and are intrigued by this new wave of minimalistic developers, then Solar can’t be missed. Sure, you could opt for one of the free apps that goes into a lot more detail and gives you access to things like radar (in fact, it’s probably wise to pick one of those up, regardless), but there still might be a place on your device for an app like Solar. It’s a solid weather tool that focuses on sticking to gestures to get it’s point across, and after spending time with both Clear and SOLAR, we’re definitely hoping for more of the same breed, even if it comes at a feature sacrifice.

Our Score: 4 Out of 5

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