Thursday, 25 October 2012

Are Android users obsessed with the weather?

Every tech site, discussion forum, and Lifehacker clone on the web has a bunch of "post your homescreen" threads. Tech blog The Verge started yet another one. All those screenshots tell a lot about the different mobile operating systems.

iPhoners always post the same thing: a grid of apps with a wallpaper behind them and a clock icon that's stuck at a quarter past ten. Except for those that Think Different®, 'cos they got folders too. Makes me think of that Monty Python movie where Brian shouts "you're all individuals" and the crowd replies with "yes we are!"

No Blackberry screenshots, because Blackberry users hide in a corner for fear of being found out as a Blackberry owner. And Windows Phone owners don't bother to reply. They keep quiet, all three of them.

And then there are the Android homescreens. Now that's a different story. No two Android phones look alike, and the homescreens are often a gem of creativity.

But there's one common theme in all those screens. Custom launchers and individual wallpapers aside, there's something that you'll find on virtually every Android homescreen picture ever posted on the web. And I'm not talking about the customary Angry Birds shortcut.

Scroll through the Android homescreen pictures and you can't miss the fact that 99.99999% of them has a big shiny weather widget as the main attraction. Temperatures, wind speeds, pictures of clouds, the forecast for tomorrow and the day after, it's all there. The weather widget usually takes up half the screen or more.


Where I live it rains so much that we pay taxes to keep the water out. Half the country sitting below sea level might also have something to do with this. And it's often freezing cold, especially this time of the year. The ever-present wind that comes in straight from the North Sea doesn't make things any better. It blows the Scottish weather our way. 'Nuff said.

So the last thing I need is a giant homescreen widget that keeps reminding me of what I'd rather forget.

Yes, I know that things are different if you live on a tropical island and you spend all day on the beach drinking coconut rum under a palm tree. A weather widget that shows nothing but "Friday: sunny, 28 ºC, Saturday: blue sky, 31 ºC, Sunday: high tide at noon, 29 ºC" looks really good. And so does a calendar that reads "Monday: Surf Class, Tuesday: Restock the bar on the boat, Wednesday: Waterskiing, Thursday: BBQ at the pool." But in such a place you'd have no need for a weather widget at all.

So what's going on here? Do all meteorologists have an Android phone? Are all Android users meteorologists? Do Androids never go out so they need their phone to tell them if it's winter or summer out there? Or did they just miss the off switch to remove the weather from their clock widget?

I can see the point of a calendar on your central screen. Or a music widget on your main homescreen. Or your email or the number of minutes and texts that you have left this month.

But the weather? On your main screen so you see it everytime you pull out your phone? Each and every time? With an extra copy on your lockscreen so no raindrop flies by undetected?

If you can explain why weather widgets are so popular you'll receive a generous reward. First prize: the raincloud that decided to relieve itself right when I was biking under it. Second prize: a big bag of northwestern wind. Third prize: a pound of sleet. Wait, make that a kilo.

So leave a comment or hit the email link below to fill me in.

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  1. I guess it's more appropriate to ask why weather widgets are so popular amongst the handset manufacturers, since in 99,9999% of cases they preload your screen with such a widget. Furthermore, I am actually one of those, who have a clock widget with an integrated weather display (HTC). It doesn't take additional screen space as compared to the clock widget alone, so why should I disable the weather display? It's actually useful in those cases when I want to quickly take a look at what the weather is like without having to open an app. As a bonus, it's a button, which starts the aforementioned app, when I need to see a detailed forecast. BTW I use the 4x1 widget, so it only takes a quarter of the homescreen ;-)

    On a side note, I am pretty sure you would get a larger audience, if you posted all this on G+.

  2. Hi svyat,
    I'd rather stay away from G+. Having a Facebook account is bad enough already.

    Anyway, you won the first prize. Congrats! I don't know how long shipping is gonna take, but that big bad raincloud will arrive eventually and it has thousands of liters of cloud storage :)

  3. Hello,
    in my opinion widgets are powerful part of Android. I am using it on smartbook Toshiba AC100. Using 4 desktops, with month calendar, agenda, tasks, mail and the weather :-) I have everything what I need in front of my eyes without opening dedicated program. And why the weather? Of course here in Poland the weather is much more pleasant, but changes (especially in autumn and spring) very often. It is good to know if I can ride by bike tomorrow or to take the bus. Or where to plan weekend trip with my boys. Of course it depends on the quality of weather service, but our local providers are better and better every day.
    (Sorry for my lame language. My first foreign is much more difficult, there is not much space for English left.)