It was announced yesterday that Apple has acquired the weather app Dark Sky. As part of the acquisition, the iOS app will continue to function as it is. In contrast, the Android app will no longer be available for download. Like many others, I use the Dark Sky app daily. The API service that provides forecast and historical data for other apps and services will continue to function until the end of 2021.
Like so many other people, Dark Sky was one of those apps that have been on my phone for years. In my opinion, there was no contender. Now though, it looks like we’ll hopefully get a revamped iOS weather app with many of the features of Dark Sky in it. I hope. This is still the early days of the acquisition. Like so many software takeovers in the past, I’m sceptical of what lies ahead for both parties.
The bad news.
It’s another excellent service swallowed up by big tech. The Dark Sky team finished their update on this by saying they are looking forward to building great products. When a smaller independent company gets bought over by big tech though, there’s usually no light at the end of the tunnel.
With no app available for download, Android users not only need to find an alternative to Dark Sky, but also a weather app that doesn’t use the Dark Sky API. The Dark Sky API has been seen for a long time as the best and most accessible API for weather information. With the API closing down, developers will need to find an alternative.
I’ve been using the Dark Sky API for a product of my own. I’ll now need to spend some time finding an alternative to the Dark Sky API and make the necessary changes for my product. I have the time to do this, but it’s time that I would have earmarked for other prioritised work. I’ll need to re-jig things in the meantime.
The good news.
There is good news about this. Apple will finally get a better weather app. I’ve not been a fan of the weather app for a few years, and when Apple allowed their core apps to be deleted, it was one of the first ones to go from my home screens.
With Dark Sky closing their doors, there is space in the market now for an alternative to Dark Sky. A developer-friendly forecasting API that also provides alerts for changing weather conditions. I’m not saying that it will be easy to do, but there will be many app developers looking for such an alternative. It could be an opportunity.
Is Apple going to do the same for weather data as they did for maps? Apple’s MapKit JS service is a good alternative to Google’s own map service. It would be nice to see a WeatherKit service for both native and web applications. Like maps, weather information can be included in all manner of apps. Having a reliable source of weather information would likely attract more developers to building apps for the iOS platform.
It’s always good to have an alternative
At the end of the day, Apple’s acquisition of Dark Sky should be a cautious reminder. No matter how excellent the service is, there’s always a chance that it can be pulled. The best way to plan for such disruptions is to have at least one other alternative in place.
With another service already earmarked, you can make the switch from one service to the other easily. This doesn’t just go for the apps you use, it goes for your personal data as well. It’s also should be considered if a service is fundamental to your business.