Unique. Simple. Beautiful. Flowx (pronounced floh-eks) stands out from the saturated field of weather apps by focusing on being visual and tactile. Flowx shows the weather in a manner that is radically different from its competitors — rather than showing the predicted weather status (i.e. raining, cloudy, sunny, etc.), the application presents you readable data as if you are a meteorologist (an amateur one at that). This — the ease of handling advanced data sets — is the ultimate selling point of Flowx. Why just check the weather when you can swipe through meteorological data as if you are an expert? Flowx shows us, the user, the weather by presenting the forecasts through patterns and movements.
Only One Action Required
All you need is a swipe. As my peers presented, I was perplexed by their comments about “only needing to swipe”. How can an app that looks so data heavy only require one main action? I just had to try the app for myself. Literally, the only instruction you receive as you first install the application is to start swiping. As you swipe from left to right, you are greeted with a beautiful timelapse of the precipitation forecast. Incrementing at hourly intervals, you are shown data (of your chosen layer) up to seven days. I cannot think of any better way to get users hooked! The simplest, mobile device action makes the experience of going through rainbow-scale weather data so appealing and addictive. There was not a point in time where I had to fiddle with any buttons to see the forecasts. In one move, I could see how intense the rain (if there is) will be in the coming days in Singapore. I barely use phone applications for non-messaging purposes, yet, I feel converted. In one action, they retained a user.
Flowx isn’t just made for casual users like myself who downloaded the application for assignment (but now enjoying the app too much). Although minimalistic, the application has appeal for a wide user range from beginners to “power users” (as quoted by the presenters). The application boasts a data galore, packing in large amounts of weather data all in one platform. Apart from the default six layers of weather information (precipitation, total cloud, wind speed, temperature, pressure, and wave height), Flowx offers 30+ data types, including ‘Solar Eclipse’! The best part, all of these layers are used like any other: by swiping. Should you purchase or subscribe for a ‘Pro’ version, you get 10 days of forecast instead plus customisable graphs. There are two huge plus points from this ‘data galore’, firstly it can be easily tailored to meet the demands of users whose lives are dependent on weather conditions (power users) yet does not isolate casual users (myself). Secondly, I am impressed by how compatible all the data are on the platform. By no means was the primary function of the app (swiping through meteorological data) jeopardised by adding, even more, data on top of it. Flowx has done an impressive job of keeping clunky data minimal as possible. (P.S. The ‘Sailors Delight’ graph is not a data set made exclusively for oceanic movement, it actually simply summarises wind data — maybe it’s limited to more old-school sailing)
One of the main critiques pointed out was the inability to see more localised data despite being a weather app. This particular point was raised when the presenters realised that the data resolution could not zoom in enough to even see the various parts of Singapore. At that very moment, it felt as if a major flaw has just been exposed and many of our expectations of how great the app is fallen flat. Oh no… Our tiny island isn’t featured… But then again, while not being able to get a greater resolution of the data overlayed on a map, did it fail its primary function? Reviewing the application even deeper, I realised that it didn’t fail. Having a higher resolution just isn’t needed for the application as it serves a greater function than simply being a weather app.
Built for Knowing
The main purpose of the app as envisioned by the creators was to create an application that assists people to plan ANYTHING around the weather. Created by a couple, Flowx was inspired by their own wedding day fears about bad weather. Knowing that the weather was going to be fine provided them with relief. Believing that “knowledge is power”, Flowx was born with the intention of creating a mobile platform that can easily map weather patterns in a simplified manner so that any user can make and/or adjust plans outdoors 7-10 days in advance. Thus, in the creators’ eyes, the features of the application serves to meet the planning needs of their users. The application has done exactly that, by not necessarily providing extremely localised information (i.e. zoomed-in onto the street level), it directs its resources at providing more holistic data.
A New Business Model
It is my belief that Flowx should begin exporting its functionalities as a paid API for businesses and/or developers. The interface and visualisation of Flowx are things I have never seen before. I may seem a little too excited to sell Flowx but it is precisely that which makes me believe it can actually be sold as plug-ins for other products. Flowx does weather mapping well; they should sell this formula. It should not experience a feature bloat by adopting more commercialised functions within their app. This is because having more features than it currently has will break the experience of this beautiful, wonderfully crafted application. Should Flowx creator’s pursue intentions of monetization, I advise selling APIs to travel companies, event organisers for example. For a couple’s job, Flowx has done an exceptional job.
To conclude, I truthfully was not so enthused about the application when my classmates presented it. The presentation itself was great but it was unconvincing as to what makes this app stand out, that is until you start using it for yourself. This reminds me how important it is to focus on the UX. The best products out in the market aren’t always game-changers. Doing the same thing differently, in a manner that entices the user, matters more when more and more disposable applications are being produced at an exponential rate. Simple actions simplify complicated purposes. In my next project, I should seriously consider what user flow and actions will get users hooked. Reviewing Flowx makes me wonder how many fantastic apps are out there with exceptional UX and functionalities that come unnoticed without proper marketing.