Dark Sky bought by Apple and will end API support for apps like Clear Outside

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Did anyone else hear that Apple purchased the weather app Dark Sky? While I don’t expect this will change much for that app unless they fold it into the Apple Weather app, they’re also announcing that they’re ending API support which powers apps like the very useful Clear Outside app a lot of us use. My reading is that Apple is going to continue API support through 2021 for existing apps, so Clear Outside should work for a while longer. Does anyone with a better understanding of app development have any better insight?

Has anyone else found any weather apps that provide the detail that Clear Outside does? It’s especially useful for cloud forecasting. I guess One could always stick to the very useful trick that Sarah and Ron from Nature Photo Guides have built into their website to auto-load the Nat. Weather Service website for your location.

@wayne might have some thoughts on this since he is using Dark Sky for his Get Outside now app. That’s a bummer they are killing support for that.

For weather/clouds I highly recommend https://www.windy.com, you can see tons of information including the height of predicted clouds from three different weather models, and it’s all free. In my opinion this blows Dark Sky out of the water. I only look at windy and NOAA anymore.

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Thanks for the Windy recommendation. I’ve used it for predicting surge and waves when scuba diving but didn’t realize it has such detail for clouds. I’ll check it out!

Yes, we use DarkSky for GôN and also for a new specialized Weather App designed specifically for photographers that I am working on now.

Adam, if you are interested in testing, please let me know (and anyone else on the community for that matter)…currently Apple/iOS only.

For those shopping for APIs, there are several alternatives to DarkSky. If you would benefit from my research, please just reach out, as I spent quite a bit of time on this topic in the past couple days.

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Hi Wayne,

I’d be happy to be a tester. If your app will cover Canada

Sounds good. I will add you to the list.

The app has global coverage…

Stay tuned :slight_smile:

Hi Wayne!
I’m a student in grade 11 and I’m very interested in your work on creating a Weather App specifically for photographers . I’m writing because I want to ask some questions with reference to your work if you don’t mind.

  1. What software do you use for this? What programming language do you think works best for this kind of project?
  2. Can you please tell me what are the alternatives to DarkSky?
  3. In what ways do you integrate APIs for this?
  4. Any advice that you’d give to a young fellow like me who wants to create an app using astronomy APIs?

Thank you.

Hello Toby,
Happy to answer your questions :slight_smile:

  1. We used Xcode (Apple’s IDE) and the Swift programming language to build the mobile app, and are using Android Studio and the Kotlin programming language to build the Android version. Our server code is written in Java Spring with a Mongo DB database and deployed on AWS (Amazon’s cloud service). Depending on the complexity of your UI, you may want to consider REACT Native or something similar for the mobile app, as you can potentially save dual work in building apps in two separate languages. Swift and Kotlin are very similar and we use some libraries that work on both, so the cross conversion is not too bad, and you get more control by having a purely native app on both platforms.
  2. There are several alternatives to DarkSky. The cheapest is Open Weather Maps, however I find their forecast data to be just “OK” in the US. I think it’s better in Europe. They are based out of the UK. We also integrate with visualcrossing, weatherstack and NOAA. Each are unique integrations, so you just have to put in the work. In our case, the user can select/change weather sources as they need. We also use several Google APIs and get the KP Index for Aurora from NOAA.
  3. All of these services provide REST styled API integrations. You integrate with them using standard HTTP messages using a JSON payload.
  4. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Don’t get attached to your original design, get feedback and have fun.

If you want to check out our app, you can find the link to the app store here: http://light-watch.com

Good luck with your project!
Wayne

Hey Mr. Boland!
Thank you so much for responding so quickly and taking the time to answer all of my questions. But recently I’ve been thinking about my options on where to get light pollution/sky brightness data and I’m just curious if you know any good ways on how and where I can get this kind of data.

Thanks a ton!
Toby

Sure. Open Weather Maps has a specific API for air quality (https://openweathermap.org/api/air-pollution). We used it in The Light Watch to build a smoke map layer. The data matches NOAA Maps and other sources pretty well, so I think you could rely on it. They also have a “free” tier that probably covers your needs (at least to start). For your application you are probably most interested in the Particulate Matter data (PM10 and PM2.5), which have the largest affect on visibility. There are various research papers you can find with Google that will help you develop the readings that would be most important to your application.

Wayne

Sorry…I misread your question. “Light” pollution is a good question. You may need to look for a data source that can give you population density information, then figure out how far away you need to be from the source in order to have dark skies…

Good luck with your project. Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions that we probably don’t want to bore the group with.

Wayne