The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Australia has launched its first weather application. Available free of charge on iOS and Android platforms, the app provides Australians with authoritative and updated temperatures, weather conditions and details about wind, humidity, and rainfall. The application also serves to keep them informed about other radars and warnings from across the country.
Launched at the Bureau’s Melbourne headquarters on Friday, the app will simplify the information users can already get at the BoM’s smartphone-enabled website. This will also make the process of obtaining information, that much more easy and efficient.

The app makes use of the BoM’s comprehensive three-hour forecast to help users plan for their day. The service also lets users receive alerts about serious weather conditions and patterns. The BoM feeds data “continuously” into the app from its Australia-wide network, and has prioritized data that is the most requested from its website. More detailed weather information on the other hand, will remain on the website.

While the app is free of advertising, BoM deputy director Rob Webb did not rule out having advertisements in future versions.

BoM began hosting advertising on its platforms in April 2013, after the 2012-2013 federal budget.

One of the keys for us with this app is usability. There is no point putting out an app if it’s too cluttered.

Webb said, stressing his commitment to keep the application useful and efficient.

So if there is advertising in the future, it won’t detract from the key weather service.

It is the first time the weather bureau has offered an application for smartphones, with users previously having to rely on third-party offerings. The BoM does not yet offer a widget for the home screen, unlike its third-party rivals, however, the app will likely be of a great help on its own.

There are already about 100 existing Australian weather apps available through Apple’s iTunes store, many of which use BoM data.

Although it cost about $200,000 to develop and test it, Webb is confident that users would see value in choosing the BoM app over others in the store. The weather bureau is now encouraging users to provide feedback and suggestions for further improving the application.

Considering that more and more people are relying upon their smartphones for everything, it only makes good sense for national meteorological authorities and organizations to provide access to weather forecasts in a user-friendly manner. BoM’s initiative is a step in the right direction and is one that should be emulated everywhere.

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