CARROT is an AI hell-bent on the destruction of the human race, but currently biding her time as the host of several iPhone apps. In CARROT Weather, she’ll give you weather forecasts, like an unholy combination of Siri, Sian Lloyd, HAL, and a boatload of snark.
But although CARROT Weather is more likely to dispassionately note a cloud “looks like you getting garrotted by an assassin” than state "it’s a bit cloudy outside", this is a full-fledged weather app and not a mere gimmick. Even if there’s the suggestion CARROT would happily kill you while you slept.
90 per cent chance of snark
Visually, the app’s very smart. The top third of the screen houses current conditions, rainfall predictions, and CARROT’s ‘helpful’ interjections.
Long-time users may miss the oddball illustrations that used to appear – grinning power stations; cows hurled across the screen on windy days – but the new animations are a better indicator of what’s actually happening with the weather, and still contain subtle humour.
The rest of the screen replaces the old, limited outlook - which was oddly slapped on a bobbing spaceship - with a sleek two-pane scrolling view. This enables you to immediately see what’s going to happen over the next few hours and days, and to peer into the future with a swipe.
Most on-screen elements can be tapped to reveal further details. And yet despite the information density this affords, you at no point feel you’re being deluged with data. CARROT Weather is bright and friendly – except when CARROT’s calling you a ‘meatbag’, and hoping you “get horribly embarrassing tan lines”.
There are customisation options, too. You can neuter CARROT to make her a ‘professional’ or unleash a profanity-laced ’overkill’ mode which, while I was writing this review, offered the memorably succinct forecast: “It’s f——ing summer”.
You can also fiddle about with displayed units, data points for the Today widget’s four slots and main forecast view, and use Weather Underground as a source if Dark Sky data doesn’t do it for you.
There’s a storm coming
Some options, though, lurk behind monthly IAP, including hourly data more than two days into the future. IAP in and of itself is fine, but having a ‘join the premium club’ sign at the end of one of the scrolling views feels out of place.
It’s also disappointing that CARROT Weather still relies on the Mac version for notifications, and has weak overhead maps. Still, the maps at least offer a neat Easter egg: hunt-the-thimble missions for ‘secret locations’. Press to scan the map and you get a signal readout. Zoom, prod, repeat, and eventually you’ll find the right spot and add it to your collection.
This is irreverent and unnecessary, but then it’s CARROT Weather’s quirky aspects that make it stand out. And despite the odd flaw, there’s no other weather app that effortlessly marries usability, great design, actual fun, and a robot AI who’ll offer a “LOL” at your misfortune when it’s bucketing down outside.
CARROT Weather is available for iOS.
Exciting epilogue: CARROT’s developer informs Stuff that the next update will “move the extended hourly data out of the subscription”.