Interview with The Weather Channel Developers
Aug 4, 2009 5:05 AM –
The Weather Channel recently released a weather Android Widget for the home screen. We were able to interview the Director of Mobile Products Traci Schoenberg to get more in depth about their Android Apps, learn more:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Traci Schoenberg and I’m the director of mobile products at The Weather Channel Interactive (“TWCi”). I am responsible for product strategy, product development and revenue generation for TWCi’s suite of branded mobile products. This includes downloadable applications, multimedia offerings, messaging products and numerous Mobile Internet sites. These products are available on all of the major U.S. wireless carriers.
Why did you create your app?
With so many capabilities, the Android platform has great potential in the marketplace. We also look to continually develop cutting-edge technology for all platforms, so it was a natural fit. After receiving such positive results from our Android Application, we felt our consumers could truly benefit from having the same accurate weather forecasts conveniently displayed on their screen for quick access, so we also created the widget.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
We developed our application using the standard Java programming language. We took advantage of key applications and middleware supported through the Android SDK such as GPS, Google Maps, embedded media player (voice and video), hooks into the device address book, sms wake-up and extensive use of SQL Lite database for caching and data storage
About how long did it take to create your App?
Approximately 6 weeks
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
The widget and application includes the most accurate weather data available, so they are must-have tools to help in planning your day. I think one of the most popular features of the The Weather Channel widget for Android is the severe weather alert indicators. The widget turns red when severe weather is in your area.
What other interesting uses can come from the App?
Our application for Android can be instrumental in helping play your day, with fully customizable interactive maps and relevant, local information such as location-triggered severe weather alerts, neighborhood locations such as schools or parks, and the “find me” function specifically pinpoints forecasts for an exact location using GPS technology. For more specifics on the app, click here: http://press.weather.com/press_detail.asp?id=208. And for a review from the folks at AndroidTapp, check out www.androidtapp.com/the-weather-channel/.
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
The Android widget by The Weather Channel Interactive will be incorporated into future versions of the application, so upon download, users can opt out of receiving it if desired.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
From the start, Android has done a great job in allowing developers to create unique applications for its consumers that gives them the opportunity to customize their devices with content that best fits their lifestyle, which is completely in line with our goals at The Weather Channel. We spend much of our time exploring new channels and ways to get our weather information in the hands of our customers and the Android platform has been a successful experience for us. We also really enjoyed the Android Developer Challenge presented to us, where we were selected as one of the Top 50 apps. Our Mobile team chose to donate the $25,000 cash prize to National Science & Technology Education Partnership, or NSTEP, to help fund local mentoring and tutoring programs. To learn more: http://press.weather.com/press_detail.asp?id=222.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
At The Weather Channel we take our customer feedback very seriously. This is how we learn what features are working and what areas we need to improve on for future versions of the product or applications. So, we find it very helpful when platforms allow customers to rate the products and applications based on their personal experiences.
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
The Weather Channel currently has applications available for the Apple iPhone, Palm Treo, Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices. For details on these, visit www.weather.com/mobile.
Must-have Android Apps?
1. Power Manager allows for great configuration of your settings.
2. Android Radio to listen to a number of radio stations from the phone.
3. Of course, The Weather Channel weather application for pinpointed locations and the most precise forecast available on a mobile device.
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
Once you create a mobile application, be sure to constantly look for ways to improve it. New mobile applications are released everyday and you always want to make sure you are offering the most comprehensive and creative application that you can in order to maintain and continue to add new customers.
Can you tell us what future Android Apps you have brewing?
We are currently in the process of developing a premium application for Android, which will include in-motion weather maps with future radar imagery as well as a few new features. We also plan to have an Android ad-supported application available soon.
Thank you very much Traci Schoenberg and Colleen Murphy (Trevelino/Keller Communications Group) for your time! Don’t forget to check out our Android App Review of The Weather Channel and Widget.