You wouldn’t expect people to be passionate about a weather app, but Dark Sky’s user base certainly qualifies. This “hyperlocal” weather client originated on iOS, but launched on Android in 2016. Now, it’s going back to an iOS exclusive following an unexpected Apple acquisition. If you’ve been enjoying the app, it’s probably time to check out alternatives.
Dark Sky was a popular app on iOS, but it emerged at a time when the business model for weather apps was changing. These services aren’t cheap to run, and many apps that offered on-time pro upgrades were struggling to remain profitable. Dark Sky offered robust live weather data with forecasts tailored to your specific location. iPhone users were happy to pay a few bucks per year for a subscription to the app. The Android launch was rocky because of that model — app subscriptions were still a tough sell for Android users, but the app eventually racked up more than a million installs.
The acquisition came out of the blue yesterday with a blog post on the Dark Sky website. Now that Apple is calling the shots, Dark Sky’s Android app is going the way of the dodo. The app will shut down on July 1, 2020, but it’s still available for download in the Play Store for those who have already installed it. You can even buy a one-year subscription on Android. Although, that option (and the app listing itself) will probably vanish soon enough. Anyone with a subscription active when the shutdown happens will get a refund. It does have rudimentary free features, but those will stop working in July as well.
This acquisition will have wider-reaching consequences than the loss of one app. Dark Sky also operates an API, allowing other apps to license its weather data. This will go away, too, but not until the end of 2021. That will give apps time to find alternative weather APIs, but most of those services are much more expensive than Dark Sky.
It’s not even clear if Apple will continue offering Dark Sky on iOS much longer. It may very well build Dark Sky’s forecast technology into a future version of iOS. At that point, the standalone app might not be necessary anymore. Whatever Apple does with Dark Sky, Android folks won’t be invited.
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