Weather Channel's iPhone app hails videocasts

The Weather Channel Interactive Interactive app brings a bundle of advanced climactic detail, from cloud layers and UV to storm alerts you can e-mail to loved ones.

Weather apps have been a fixture on the iPhone and iPod touch since Day 1, but it wasn't until this week that it gained a full-featured contribution from The Weather Channel.

Weather Channel Interactive Interactive iPhone app
San Francisco's forecast today. (Credit: CNET)

The free Weather Channel Interactive Interactive makes use of tabs to cram in localized weather, extended forecasts, and video. There's a tab for severe weather advisories and an e-mail function to send a weather notice to a friend in your address book.

The Weather Channel is making much ado about a feature in the Explore Map tab that lets you add "map layers" and neighborhood points, essentially a combination of radar and clouds, the UV index, and rainfall watches that show up on the map alongside personal points of interest.

Weather Channel Interactive Interactive iPhone app
The weird yellow glow is a temperature map, with a highlight over a local airport. (Credit: CNET)

The idea is to dot your iPhone's map with as much detailed data as you need so you can track specific weather conditions at the airport, park, golf course, and so on--but only one map layer and neighborhood point at a time. It's a toss-up if that restriction is for the best--when zoomed in, the map crowds quickly.

Videos for local and international daily forecasts are a smart addition, and something that really sets this app apart. The Video tab will play the local forecast for the current location that The Weather Channel Interactive picked out using GPS, or for other favorites you saved. More videos by region and country are tucked into the More menu, though they're limited to the US, UK, France, Canada, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

While there's a lot of good information in here, the weather home screen that most people will check in with most often is blanketed with a dull blue that's very blah compared to the iPhone's native weather widget that's designed by Yahoo, but which grabs data from The Weather Channel. However, the biggest problem facing the Weather Channel's proprietary application, is stability. The app crashed on me four times during testing in an area with moderate signal.

Otherwise, this app is a good start for The Weather Channel, and one that brings tangible value with its video and e-mail extras.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.