There are lots of different weather APIs out there, which might make things a bit tricky when the time comes to choose one to add to the app that you are developing.
So how can you choose between the available weather APIs and find the one that is right for you? Here are some handy hints to help you master this thorny issue.
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Consider the competitors
Before you can make a decision, you need to actually know which services are at your disposal in the first place.
The good news is that there are actually quite a few free weather APIs which are of comparable quality and accuracy in terms of the data they offer.
Well known names in this marketplace include the OpenWeatherMap API, the AccuWeather API and the Dark Sky API.
As part of this preliminary comparison process, it is a good idea to check up on independent coverage of the prospective platforms, as well as looking into testimonials from existing users. You might even be assisted in your decision-making by finding out which weather API is used by an established app that is already highly rated.
Weigh up features
Not all weather APIs are created equally, and indeed some examples are designed specifically to cater to one particular use case, while others provide a broader selection of capabilities. This means that you need to work out which perks will be most relevant in the context of your own app, and narrow down the field accordingly.
For example, the AccuWeather API is actually an entire ecosystem that comprises several different APIs that can be harnessed individually. This includes APIs for forecasts issued either at hourly or daily intervals, as well as location-specific features and functions associated with different climatic conditions.
Meanwhile the Dark Sky API is especially well suited to providing access to historic weather data, in addition to contemporary forecasts for the short term. Other APIs, such as Weatherbit, focus on delivering intelligent forecasting in combination with flexible alert integration.
It is worth noting that weather APIs which market themselves as ‘free’ are not always entirely without cost. Usually there will be a basic, introductory tier that does not come with any upfront expenses and instead imposes certain limits on usage which will eventually compel you to upgrade to a paid account.
Pricing is typically based around the number of calls you can make in a set period, and this will usually scale to suit different apps with different sized user bases. Indeed you can start with a more affordable tier and then, as your app grows, upgrade to a higher priced package with more calls included so that you are able to serve your burgeoning audience.
There are of course a number of different approaches to pricing to be found across the weather API market. Some will come with fixed rate tiers, while others will take a pay-as-you-go approach meaning that the more your app makes use of the API, the higher the cost will be. Carefully calculating the costs associated with using competing platforms at this point will stand you in good stead.
One thing that could determine which weather API you use for your app above and beyond the other factors mentioned so far is the performance it offers.
Keep an eye out for metrics relating to the responsiveness of the API and also the rate of success it provides, since unless these two metrics are competitive, it might not be worth going forwards with integration. App performance has been proven to be critical in determining its success, so it is not something you can afford to overlook.