By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
There's a movement towards inventive, simple and minimalist smartphone apps that defy established user interface conventions. The Haze app for the iPhone and iPod Touch embodies this innovative approach.
Haze doesn't do anything new. It gives weather information based on location, which is something that tons of other weather apps have been doing for years. It is the way that Haze delivers the information that is unique.
The user interface is devoid of any visible settings (these can be accessed by gesturing down on the screen and they come as a window blind type menu, similar to Notification Centre).
Haze relies on the user's intuition and commons sense and will start by displaying the current temperature in a softly glowing orb.
Touch this orb and it dissolves into a number of smaller orbs complete with soothing sound effects. These surrounding orbns give more detailed information such as sunrise and sunset times. precipitation and UV forecast index.
Subtlety is the main ingredient of Haze. There are pulsing waves in the background that actually indicate where tomorrow's weather is headed (i.e. waves going up means warmer temperatures, going down means cooler temperatures).
Navigating through the various displays and screens is soothing and fluid.
There are clever touches like the weather trivia that pops up intermittently in the settings windows as well as slick navigational elements that add an element of fun to the interactions.
I also like how Haze uses tilt control as an option to scroll to the different menu items.
The Tilt control is a little all over the place and requires some practice to deploy but is definitely something that can be improved. It makes me wonder why other app developers don't offer tilt control as an option.
Haze also offers various themes that change up the look, feel and character of the screen and elements. These are unlocked through usage so the more you invoke Haze to get the latest weather, the more themes you will unlock.
Easy and fun to use, Haze is a refreshing paradigm in weather apps and one that brings a new way to interact with information. I love haze because of the laid back and Zen-like way it delivers the weather.
The animations do seem to slow down the process of refreshing info but this lag is negligible. There's also no way to check weather from other locations or have multiple countries but there are tons of other apps that do that.
I'm still playing around with Haze on my iPhone 4S and it is a bargain at $1.99. This is an example of the caliber of fresh and inventive apps we should be seeing more of on smartphones and is a must have for any weather geek.
Haze is available in the iOS app store.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5