AppNewser asked, What’s Your Favorite App, David Kenny?
The chairman/CEO of The Weather Company chose the note-taking app Evernote. “Within Evernote, Evernote Hello is my favorite, because I meet a lot of interesting and it is a way to keep track of when I met them, and what we talked about,” he said. Evernote Hello lets you scan business cards, access your contact’s LinkedIn page, as well as add notes to your contact list so that you can create a rich, browsable history of people and experiences. “It keeps my life very organized,” adds Kenny.
Kenny uses the app on his iPhone, iPad and Nexus 7 — three devices that he carries with him as he is always checking The Weather Channel apps to make sure that they are working.
We met up with Kenny last week at AppNation and he told us about the new app projects that he is working on. These days the company is focused on its forecast on-demand feature. “It used to be that you would do a weather forecast twice a day,” said Kenny. “The web made that more real time, but mobile has created the expectation that when you check the weather right now, you want it to reflect what it is right now and you want to know within fifteen minutes when the rain is going to stop and going to start.”
This ambitious goal requires the company to up its computing power and collect more data, which in turn makes the weather more accurate. The company collects its data from a network of more than 29,000 personal weather stations on the ground which are connected to the Internet and send updates every 2.5 seconds. They also get data from other sources such as airplane wings. All of this data feeds into a central database which is constantly updated to provide real time weather forecasts.
With forecast on-demand, every time you check the weather, the cloud will recalculate the weather for that exact location in real time with the latest information. For instance, you can get weather for a particular neighborhood in a city or a specific stadium, or the front nine or back nine holes on a golf course. The idea is to “help people understand within very narrow time frames and windows and very narrow locations, what is going to happen,” explained Kenny. “If you are coaching your kid’s lacrosse game, it can help you figure out if you should call the game or just wait it out.” The company hopes to get this feature up and running this year, after which, all of their apps will be redesigned with this new feature at the center.
Beyond on-demand forecasting, the company is also working on Android & iOS versions of The Weather Underground’s web app Wundermap, an app that lets users check out interactive weather feeds from personal weather stations. “There are millions of people who use this app on the web who wanted a mobile version to carry with them,” explained Kenny. With the app, you can check out live video feeds of a location and get a video feed of what the weather is actually like in a specific location at that specific time. The mobile version is currently being tested with beta users but is expected to launch in June.
App updates and new features are a regular thing at The Weather Channel, which has more than 100 engineers in house developing mobile apps. Kenny takes a TV producing mindset to app making. “You don’t build them and launch them, and it’s over. Apps are still living,” he said. “We take a programming mindset, you’ve got to keep them alive.”