Always Be Nailing The Basics
Why we skipped adding new features for a while, and improved all the old ones instead.
When you’re in charge of a software product, there’s an endless number of things you can do with it. You can add features, make existing things work differently, change how you sell it, tweak little details, whatever. The sky’s the limit.
And hoo wee, there’s no shortage of ideas! Every day you hear opinions and feature requests from all over the place — your mom, your friends, your plumber, random people on Twitter, stoned college students sending App Store reviews, and so on.
It’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of the original vision you had in the first place. That’s how software gradually becomes bloated crap: you just keep piling things on because people keep asking. Then one day you realize everything has become incomprehensibly complex.
Tacking stuff on is easy. Remaining true to your vision takes discipline, patience, careful consideration, and a willingness to say no a lot.
A few months ago we launched a completely redesigned Hello Weather, but we barely scratched the surface of all the things we want to do with it.
It’d be sweet to add extras like an Apple Watch app, push notifications, and an Android widget. But first, we want the core of the app (the actual weather forecast part) to be really damn good.
Because what’s the point of having all those sideshows, if the main event isn’t the absolute best it can be?
That’s why, for the last two months, we doubled down on the basics. And I mean WAY DOWN, plunged into the darkest depths of weather forecast minutiae. Our goal was to make your forecasts as rich and useful as we possibly could. Here’s what we did.
1. Better icons for weather conditions.
We’ve had the same basic set of icons since 2016, and they lacked granularity. If there was rain in the forecast for a day, we’d just show 🌧 rain, whether it was a drizzle or a downpour.
In the new version, we designed a much wider range of icons that show a lot more detail, and they’re themed for day and night. It sounds like a small thing, but it adds loads of extra color and precision to the app.
2. Icons for conditions in hourly forecasts.
At long last! We talked about adding these for years, and now we finally had time to do it right. You’ll see icons for the each of the next 16 hours and sunrise/sunset times, every day.
3. Smarter daily forecasts, and a new look ahead for tomorrow’s weather.
We always wanted to show some specific info about tomorrow’s forecast. If you check the app at night before you go to bed, you should be able to quickly spy what the weather will be like tomorrow.
To make it happen, we divided our daily forecasts into specific slices of time. As the day goes on, you’ll see the app automatically transition through This morning, This afternoon, This evening, and Tonight and tomorrow. That way you can always know what’s happening in the next meaningful moment.
4. Very Extra Wind Speeds mode.
Some folks really need to know about wind—sailors, pilots, bikers, mountain climbers, kite flyers, people peeing outside, etc.
If that sounds like you, you’ll like this new wind option! Just head over to the Settings screen and pick Weather Units, then you’ll see these two toggles:
Flip on that Show extra wind forecasts switch to always see wind speed info everywhere, including sweet new directional arrows in the hourly forecast:
5. Dates in the weekly forecast.
This is a small but helpful thing — we added the date (number) below each day in the weekly forecast. Much better for event planning when you don’t have a calendar handy.
6. Rain and snow accumulation estimates.
We just made it through a snowy Chicago winter, and we noticed that we didn’t have as much info about accumulation totals as we’d like. So we added a lot of tricky math and text parsing to make sure we always show accumulation estimates for rain and snow (whenever there’s enough precipitation to warrant seeing them.)
7. More blazing fast speeds.
Trevor spent a lot of time lovingly tuning and extending our server infrastructure so it runs like a well-oiled machine. Hello Weather is now as fast as we can make it: our response times are only limited by how quickly we can get forecast data back from a weather service.
8. There’s an all-new Android app too!
It’s just like the iOS app, except more Googlier! Tell all your Androidy friends to download it.
So that’s it! A bunch of great fundamental improvements that should make your daily weathering a little nicer. We hope you dig it.
Now go pee into the wind with confidence—and please keep those feature requests rolling in.