Good day,

It is our pleasure to announce that we have launched our new mobile app called WeatherCAN. The app responds to the evolving needs of Canadians to access reliable weather information directly at the tip of their fingers, wherever they are in Canada.

Available on Apple and Android smartphones, WeatherCAN draws its weather data and information directly from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the official source for Canadian weather alerts.

The first version of our app offers the following key features:

• Current conditions, hourly- and 7-day forecasts for over 10,000 locations in Canada.

• Push notifications for all weather alerts issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada for your location and saved locations.

• Weather information for your location (following you as you travel) as well as for saved locations anywhere in Canada.

• High-resolution radar animation on a zoomable map background.

• A message centre providing weather facts and climate information relevant to the current weather.

• Today and short-range forecast widget for quick, at-a-glance weather information.

• Accessible in English and French, and an in-app ability to switch between languages.

That was a rather lengthy excerpt of an email I received Yesterday from Environment and Climate Change Canada, only because of my involvement with CANWARN. This app has been anticipated by myself and others, since last summer and now that it’s here, I figured I would include it and talk about it. Not everyone has the time to listen through the Weatheradio Canada cycle, to hear what they want or need to know so, the alternative is this new mobile application. So far, it isn’t bad but as you will see, I think it needs some improvements. Other people are pining for an iPad version and a whole lot of other visual options (which is all fine and good) but in my review, I have touched on some basic and practical improvements which would serve to especially help those of us, who are CANWARN trained and are CANWARN net controllers. Here is what I have written and have edited, to make my points as clear as possible. I will explain a couple of the points I made below, after the review.

“Thank you for finally giving us your very own weather alert application. As someone who is a volunteer for Environment Canada I will certainly be using it. In particular for something like CANWARN or as a back-up to Weatheradio Canada, when it goes down.”

“One suggestion I do have for those of us (including myself) who will probably use it as a CANWARN net controller, would it be possible to add updated: statements, watches or warnings to the app? I appreciate having issued weather alerts pushed to my phone but I think we would be served even better, with updates on current warnings, watches or advisories too. It would be beneficial for CANWARN trained individuals and we could be better informed, as to any updates to current alerts. To alleviate the fear of over-notifying people who use the app, you can add an option for whether users wish to have updated or ended alerts pushed to their phones. If this is added, I will certainly use both options because of my previously mentioned involvement with CANWARN.”

“Also, are there plans to push marine related alerts to the app such as: squall watches or warnings? Since Weatheradio Canada doesn’t alert for those types of warnings, this would be the best place to have them pushed to our phones, whether we are on land or on the water. It would also be of great benefit to have a marine tab, in order to look at the latest forecast for the lake or river, within a location. For example: Lake Ontario would apply to all cities within the lake boundary and of course, could be divided into Western Lake Ontario or eastern Lake Ontario, depending on the location. As for the alerts, you could provide the same flexibility I suggested for public alerts.”

“Anyway, keep up the great work on the app so far and I hope this lasts for many years.”

Okay, you will notice that I had mentioned the possibility of over-notification and in the reply to my first review, there was a mention of a low tolerance for that. That is why I suggested having more options and control for us, so those of us who don’t wish to be alerted for every single update can turn the updates off. I feel that it would be good for everyone and if you don’t want your phone to ding when a new updated warning is issued, you should be able to control that function. Yes, there is EC Alert Me for those of us who are CANWARN trained but, it has had it’s own problems with late notifications and with those of us who use iPhones, we can’t necessarily control how timely the emails get to our inboxes, unless we have Wifi, which I don’t.

Also, I had mentioned marine and the fact that there is no “Marine Tab”. Not everyone has a marine radio or a scanner and Weatheradio does not alert listeners to marine watches and warnings with a tone. Yes, you can jump through hoops to get the marine forecasts but you won’t hear an alert for the nearest lake or river, near where you live. I hope that becomes a part of the app, so I could be alerted when a squall watch or warning or even special marine warnings are issued, when I don’t have my WX radio or VHF marine radio in my backpack. Also, because of how basic Weatheradio Canada currently is, we don’t hear the details, as to why one of the marine watches or warnings have been issued. Yes, there is VHF marine radio but not everyone has Channel 16 on all the time, like me.

Anyway, I like the app so far and I hope that we have most or all, of the modifications I’ve suggested added to it, before the summer severe weather season really gets going. I highly recommend it and the Météo application, to compliment each other, as there is some confusion as to where the closest weather observation station is. Also, WeatherCAN doesn’t always work in some spaces like Coffee shops, even when connected to Wi-Fi. However, it seems to be fixed and hopefully, more improvements are made to it, such as the ones I have mentioned above, along with the applications ability to follow us, when disconnecting and reconnecting to the internet. That has been a real bugaboo for myself and others, where we have to re-launch the app because it isn’t able to find us (the first time) after reconnecting to the internet. However, I’m sure that it is being worked on for a future update.

oh yeah, I should also include a link for those who don’t have it but may wish to download it. Right? Anyway, here they are, whether you have an iOS or android device.

App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/id1334221563?mt=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ca.gc.ec.weather_app_android.ops 

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