The New UI Design Playground

Ollie graphic

Ollie of Twitterific fame

Back in 2009 John Gruber wrote on that Twitter Clients Are a UI Design Playground and in that time it was definitely the case — there were new Twitter clients being released seemingly on a weekly basis, each with their own unique take on composing and viewing tweets. Take the time to read the post, it’s spot on and includes this great quote from Loren Brichter,

“One of the fantastic things about Twitter clients is how easy it is for users to jump from one to another. Just type in a username and password and off you go.”

Since then Twitter has changed their stance on third-party clients, turning this design playground into more of a country club in the name of control and consistency of the Twitter experience. There’s still some great third-party clients out there, but innovation has slowed as the barriers to entry have been raised and the risk in developing and maintaining a third-party client has increased.

Software screen capture

Apple’s iOS 7 Weather

Many designers and developers of mobile apps have since turned their attention to weather apps. App stores are overflowing with different takes on answering the timeless question of “what’s the weather like today?” and just as with Twitter clients, you can easily hop between them either simply by entering your ZIP code or letting the app use your current location.

My favorites are and its hyper-local forecasting companion app Dark Sky but some other great alternatives are: Yahoo! Weather, Haze, Sun, Solar, GoodWeathercube, Partly Cloudy, Weather Neue, Weather Dial, Minimeteo, Aelios, or Blue. Heck, even Apple is polishing its Weather app in iOS 7 .

These apps showcase some great visual and interaction design and offer some really interesting takes on the mundane weather report. If you’re using an app from one of the major weather news services, give it a rest, and hop over to one of these great indie alternatives.

Steven Huey

Steven Huey

Senior Software Engineer at Art & Logic
Mac and iOS developer and project manager at Art+Logic. Twitter | GitHub
Steven Huey
@pxlnv Philip Morris has done this for a while to circumvent tobacco advertising laws with: - 1 year ago
Steven Huey


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  1. PB

    Weather app explosion and UI creativity is certainly interesting. Surprised you may not have seen perhaps the best offering: SkyMotion.

    • Steven Huey

      PB – looks interesting, I’ll definitely check it out.

    • Steven Huey

      Lines is great, works well on mobile devices too, just like

  2. Jon Hendry

    Is the data available for free? That would certainly help.

  3. Daniel

    One thing most are lacking is a simple info how much warmer or colder it is today in regard to yesterday. So you instantly know if you should dress thicker or not.

  4. zarlock

    Some very nice looking apps are out there indeed.
    The main issue is that their functionality – weather forecasting – is very often limited by bad source material.
    May not be true for the U.S., but in Europe it is definitely a problem. Which is why around here, sadly you are much better off with the major news service apps (unless looking at pretty pictures is sufficient for you and you don’t actually need to know what the weather is really going to be like).

    • BMC ATX

      My experience, too, unfortunately. I now mainly use the Weather Channel (which has a very mediocre and overdone UI) and Yahoo/Apple apps for that reason. The source info for most weather apps is shockingly poor.

    • Keeees

      Try YR.NO for europe. It’s pretty accurate.

  5. walter white

    how about the CWeather app? It’s using iOS7 style too.

  6. Steven Huey

    Some great suggestions here for even more apps!

  7. UI Components

    Very interesting read about UI Design Playground which I will experiment with! Thank you for sharing.

  8. srinivas

    Nice to visit the site and it is interesting

    ui development


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