RadarScope for iOS: Beautiful, Visual Access to Weather Radar

| Quick Look Review

RadarScope obtains the raw NEXRAD radar data from the 159 National Weather Service Doppler radars, some in super resolution, in the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico and displays tweather patterns, such as thunderstorms and other weather effects, on your iOS device. In addition, it displays predicted storm tracks plus severe weather and flash flood text warnings from the NWS. The visual presentation is just amazing.

Unlike some other apps, the images aren't smoothed PNG or GIF images, and the data remains in its original radial format.

Northern Colorado, 18 July 2013

This app is, at once, extremely easy to use and informative but also very technically capable. To achieve that is no mean feat for any developer. To first order, if you want to see the raw data, color coded for intensity, as is customary, you can get an instant feel for thunderstorm activity in any part of the U.S. It's agenda free; you don't have to enter a ZIP code or identify your location. You can just swipe across the U.S. to see an area of interest.

But then, as you explore further, you discover that it surfaces to the user a lot of the raw radar data that you can learn about and then use to customize your view. For example, you can select from different reflectivity options: Base, Classic and Composite reflectivity. You can select from several different tilt angles used by the radar, from 0.5 to 4.0 degrees above the horizon.

All these options are expertly explained on the support pages. While few of us are meteorologists, trained in using the various modes of the radar, the explanations are clear enough that one can learn, explore, and begin to appreciate the app as time goes on. For example, if you're in an exceptionally hilly area, you may want to adjust the tilt angle to avoid ground clutter. But you don't have to be an expert to spot really strong thunderstorm cells and the direction of movement, and that's what makes this app so useful.

The documentation is fantastic.

I liked everything about this app. The graphics and use of the display space is excellent, even on the smaller iPhone display. But it really shines on the iPad. The documentation is superb. There is access to a spotter network. You can, optionally mark your own exact location. You can view all the warnings, nationwide so that you can be aware of weather affecting friends and family. You can set favorite locations. The pinch zooming is fast and smooth. Within the states, the county borders are shown, and you can turn on/off the major city locations/labels. The reflectivity mode, radar tilt angle being used and the time of last update are displayed at the bottom.

While the radar image isn't updated on every animated sweep, the documentation in the "Update Interval" section explains why the image is updated every five to ten minutes.

Support is easy to find, plentiful.

The only thing that may give some customers pause is the price. But there's value here. This is not a 99 cent game. It's a technical app that you'll use in the course of weather awareness and safety for yourself and family. Apps of that nature, without distracting ads like this one, will cost more than toys.

System Requirements

RadarScope 2.0.6 is compatible with any iOS device, is optimized for iPhone 5, and requires iOS 5.1 or later. It is localized for English only.

Product: RadarScope

Company: Base Velocity, LLC

List Price: US$9.99

Pros:

Easy to use, yet informative.  One can just launch it and use it, or one can learn about the technical details in order to optimize it. Excellent visual presentation. Excellent documentation. Support options plentiful and easy to find.

Cons:

Radar animation of sweep doesn't provide instant updates. The documentation explains.

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Comments

John Hamilton Farr

I want to thank you for this. I always trust you on the technical stuff! Without hesitation I jumped right in and got it. Ten bucks is nothing compared to the value of this thing. I’m very happy to have this on my iPad.

egis

Thank you for what is a very helpful review.  Since Spring I have been looking for technically proficient apps for weather radar - particularly one that exploited all features of both NEXRAD 2 and 3 and TDWR (Terminal Doppler Weather Radar).  RadarScope does all and much more, but it is true that unless one understands the fundamentals of Doppler, the various products could be confusing. Given that caveat, this a must have and is more than worth the price of admission.

I differentiate weather radar apps from the more traditional weather apps, simply because their focus is on the radar data and not on the rest of the weather information we most commonly want to know.  Ease of use, product variety, smooth, seamless integration in-app and mobile designed, web-based support pages are, to me, what distinguishes this app from most any other weather radar app. I have six apps on my Iphone and this is the first one I check.

A couple of features I would like to see: 
1) right now one can only choose a single radar at any one time.  Perhaps there might be a way to build out a composite of adjoining radars.
2) as you zoom in to look at a storm cell, the data get pixelated.  Perhaps there can be a preference for smoothing.  I know there are quite a few alogrithms that perform this function.

Great review from a very satisfied user.

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