Radar Cast lets you Watch for bad weather

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Radar Cast can make you feel like a meteorologist on the five o'clock news.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

If you’re like me, you spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick out the perfect weather app for your iPhone. Apple’s Weather app just doesn’t cut it and it’s very hard to find something that has a little bit of every detail without being cluttered or downright ugly. That happy medium for me is Carrot Weather but unfortunately it’s been crashing on the iOS 9 developer beta. In its place I’ve been testing Radar Cast, a slightly unusual weather app that attempts to deliver all the most crucial information to your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

I say it’s unusual because, as you may have guessed, the focus is less on delivering a straightforward forecast and more on translating that experience to a live radar. I’m happy to report that when I opened Radar Cast for the first time, there was no setup whatsoever to complete. It immediately brings you to the live radar animating back over the past few hours with a small preview of what’s to come.

By default, the radar displays precipitation across the United States with lightning strikes and outlines of areas with severe weather alerts. It’s highly customizable, but we’ll get into that a bit later.

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Radar Cast feels like a mapping app and weather app all in one.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

Tap any area on the radar and drop a pin to display the city you’re in with two options: the weather forecast or the self-titled RadarCast feature. The latter is similar to Dark Sky’s minute-by-minute predictions, giving an estimate for what’s coming over the next hour and how long it’ll last.

If you add the location to your bookmarks, you can enable precipitation notifications on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. They’re informative and gratefully use natural language like “It may start raining in 30 minutes at home.”

Otherwise, you can see a beautifully comprehensive weather forecast at any location. It’s complete with current conditions, the hourly forecast, wind and pressure, sunrise and sunset, a five-day forecast and little details like humidity and visibility. I do wish the forecast extended a little further out though – at least for seven days. The accuracy is on par with other weather apps so no complaints there.

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Dark Sky and Yahoo Weather: the best of both worlds.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

My favorite feature by far is TurnCast, which gives you GPS directions using the map and built-in radar that avoid bad weather. So if you normally take one route using Radar Cast and one day there’s a storm heading in that direction, TurnCast will send you on a different route. It’s extremely handy for frequent travelers.

What might please extreme weather watchers more than anything though is just how much you can customize Radar Cast to your liking. Tap the Settings icon and prepare to be thoroughly overwhelmed. Choose layers upon layers of content to add to the radar, view maps of hurricane zones, adjust the opacity and loop speed. Just about any data you can think of is available in some form here.

My one major gripe about Radar Cast is that the focus is heavily on the radar itself while the forecast is priority number two. I like the forecast to be the first thing I see. There’s a quick workaround, which is to turn on the temperature display in Settings so with one tap you can get straight to the forecast in your location, but that’s still one extra tap each time. (Also, while I’m being nitpicky, the UI as a whole could use a little improvement.)

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You can get lost in Radar Cast’s options.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

That said, at $2.99 the value is unbelievable. Radar Cast is feature-complete and extremely useful for hardcore weather enthusiasts and casual users alike. Plus with those three bucks you’re getting an iPhone app, iPad app and Apple Watch app.

If a robust, accurate weather app with painstaking detail is what you’re after, buy Radar Cast in the App Store.