Back in 2009 John Gruber wrote on DaringFireball.net 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.
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 Forecast.io and its hyper-local forecasting companion app Dark Sky but some other great alternatives are: Yahoo! Weather, Haze, Sun, Solar, Good, Weathercube, 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.