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App watch: Laggy Yahoo Weather, amazing Facebook Messenger

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Rain forecast information has a great animation that shows raindrops blending with rain icons. Rain forecast information has a great animation that shows raindrops blending with rain icons.
SummaryThe iPad variant of Yahoo Weather app has all the makings of an excellent weather app.

Yahoo Weather for iPad

Free

Earlier this year, Yahoo launched its Weather app for iPhones. The app is a visual treat and showed how weather information can be displayed in an eye-pleasing format. This month, Yahoo launched the same app optimised for iPads. Even though the app makes the most of the iPad's large display, its performance leaves a lot to be desired. When scrolling up or down, there is a noticeable lag. The smooth transitions between various weather data, such as temperature, forecasts, wind, etc that are seen on the iPhone version, are missing in the iPad variant. Transitions are choppy and make for a terrible user experience. The app was tested on an iPad Air, which is the best iPad in the market. I checked the App Store to make sure that I wasn't the only one facing the issue and found three reviews complaining of choppy animations. This is very disappointing, considering that the iPhone version of the same app won Apple's design award earlier this year. Apple had said, “Yahoo! Weather has great layout and typography, compelling animations, fast image processing, and clear iconography. This attention to detail means that in a saturated category, an app can rise above the crowd.”

The iPad variant has all the makings of an excellent weather app. Rain forecast information has a great animation that shows raindrops blending with rain icons. Great effects can be seen for wind and sunrise, sunset timings. Yahoo has paid attention to all details but the most crucial one – transitions. Let's hope that this is fixed in future iterations.

Facebook Messenger

iOS, Android

Free

Over the past couple of months, Facebook has revamped and polished its Messenger app. Messenger makes it easy to message Facebook users, whether who are not your friends if you have their telephone number. Recent updates to Messenger have given it an iOS 7 design and have integrated it tightly with the Facebook app. If you have both apps installed, everytime you open chats on the Facebook app, it redirects you quickly to the Messenger app. From Messenger, two taps can take you to a user's Facebook profile. The switch feels intuitive. When you are in a conversation, tap their profile picture to access their timeline or call them.

Facebook Messenger has come a long way in the past two months. New stickers by Chumbak add a distinctively Indian feel to chats. The app's refinement is evident in the way it handles messages. When you send a message, it is slightly transparent while sending and becomes opaque when it has been sent. This is a nice touch, as opposed to the icons, loading bars or “sent” text seen in other apps.

Having said that, there are some things that need improvement. When an app is read by your friend, you will see “seen” written under the message. It would be nice to have a non-text way to convey this. Developers have managed to do the same for “sending” and “sent”. Another minor annoyance is the “sent from Messenger” text that appears when you're chatting with a friend who has also installed Messenger. This should be removed as a blue icon on the avatar indicates that they are on Messenger. Another problem is the delay between notifications and messages appearing in the iPhone app. Many times, I saw messages in notifications on the lockscreen, but when I opened FB Messenger, it took a few seconds to show those messages. The app showed a “connecting” message during the delay. I've noticed this in many iOS apps, so I'm guessing that this is an OS issue as opposed to an app bug.

Note: We tested FB Messenger version 3.1.1 on an iPhone 5S and Yahoo Weather version 1.5.1 on an iPad Air. At the time of testing, these were the latest builds available on the App Store. We checked for updates before filing the story. However, developers may have launched new features or fixed bugs by the time you read this.

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