Living Earth for iOS shows the Earth at a glance, global climate parameters plus local time and weather. It’s a simple, focused, informative and beautiful app that will grace your home page.
The app’s main focus is a view of the earth from space. You can use touch gestures to spin the globe or zoom on or out. However, there’s a limit on how far you can zoom in: to a point where the globe just overfills the screen. The developer says that deeper zoom is coming in a future version.
A beautiful, uncluttered display.
Overlaid on the display is the date and time plus local weather data: current temperature, high, low, and sunrise/sunset if desired.
If you touch the bottom of the display, a row of control icons come up.
Here is where you can, from left to right,
- Jump to your current location, based on Location Services
- Adjust the settings
- Select the weather parameters (see below)
- Identify hurricanes & typhoons
- Take a screen shot. Captured photos can be immediately sent to Facebook, Twitter, email or printed
- Set an alarm, with optional sounds or music selected from the iOS music library
There are many different kinds of weather displays that can overlay the globe:
- Clouds (visible light)
- Current temperature
- Current humidity
- Current wind
- Mean temperature
- Max. temperature
- Min. temperature
- Forecasted humidity
- Forecasted wind
The weather information, including the current condition weather maps, are updated every 15 minutes. The global cloud cover is updated every three hours. Here’s an example of the current temperatures for August 8th, 9:10 pm MDT. The pale blue dot in the left-middle of the the U.S. is Denver, Colorado.
This app can do a lot more than simple cloud cover. (Current temps)
The settings are simple and straightforward. Notably, you can keep the display from going into auto-lock, set metric or English units, edit the favorite cities list, and show sunrise/sunset.
City selection is easy and informative.
After you edit your cities list, just swipe at the bottom to bring up the desired location. The globe will rotate and center that city in the display, marking it with a blue dot. The local weather information will be updated in the display. (However, you can still rotate the globe around to inspect without changing the current city and weather info.) You can watch the terminator move in real time, and as cities go into night time, you can see the major city lights. It’s just awesome.
One thing I noted with pleasure is that the app got the time right for McMurdo station in Antartica. McMurdo’s (and the U.S. South Pole) time are slaved to Christchurch, New Zealand, not UT, something that an app like this will occasionally hose up. Not here.
iPhone 3GS or later, iPod touch 3G or later or iPad. IOS 5.0 or later.
This is a beautiful, intuitive and informative app. It doesn’t try to do too much, but what it does, it does beautifully. And the beauty is more than skin deep: it can provide insights that you didn’t have before about global weather conditions. You’ll get the Big Picture, so to speak.
If the app could zoom in further, until a smallish U.S. state fills the screen, it would earn a perfect 5/5. Given the limited ability to zoom in still earns Living Earth 4.5/5.
The overall feel of this app exhibits a great understanding of taste in technical design. I’ve taken, for now, to letting it run in my iPad all day long. It’s as if I were on the ISS with a viewport back to the majestic but fragile earth below.
Viewport to spaceship Earth.