12/23 Update: If your looking for a Dark Sky alternative, just check out Apple’s Weather App. It has most of the old Dark Sky features built in now. It’s much improved.
Update from Dark Sky. The app is going offline at the end of Dec 22. if you have an iPhone though, no problem. Just download the weather app, where most of the Dark Sky features have been added.
Much to the surprise of the Weather community, news broke that Apple is buying the company responsible for the popular Dark Sky iOS and Android app. Just ask the owner of one of Dark Sky’s competitors, Carrot Weather.
Here’s what Carrot Weather had to say after the announcement:
If you’re unfamiliar, Dark Sky is a weather platform that runs weather apps for iOS and Android. Most users believed this app was much better than anything else on the market, myself included. Dark Sky has some nice systems around UV Indexes (really important for me in Florida) and insanely accurate rain warnings.
Within the next few months, we’re going to see some changes, though. Dark Sky’s Android app, their website, and their API is closing down. Android and website users have until July 1st to find an alternative. This only leaves its iOS app remaining. Dark Sky has a post explaining the details.
Why Did Apple Buy Dark Sky?
Apple’s move into the Weather space likely means the default Weather App on iOS will see big improvements over the next iOS release. Over time, we’ll see Dark Sky and the default app merge. So if you’re an iPhone user, you’ll get pretty nice features in the next year or two.
Sadly, there are some losers in this transaction. Android users are losing access to a great Weather App.
Impacts on Smart Home
Smart Home users are getting hit, as well. Dark Sky is removing access to its API. Existing API users can continue to use it until the end of 2021. However, no new users will be given access going forward.
This is a big blow to the industry as Dark Sky has built a strong reputation for sharing their very precise Weather data, and as a result, their API is used today by many apps, services, and Home Automation Systems.
The most notable Home Automation System to use Dark Sky’s API is Home Assistant. This is an open source platform that allows users to create and execute Home Automation Rules. Home Assistant allows users to install “plugins” that enable new integrations into the Home Assistant System. One of which is a plugin for the Dark Sky API for Weather-based automations. The Dark Sky plugin is very popular for weather-based rules.
Bottom Line: If you use Home Assistant and have any Home Automation rules that have Weather conditions, you’ll need to rethink how those rules work and where Weather data comes from. Using Dark Sky isn’t an option anymore. But on the upside, you still have some time to switch.
Alternative Integrations for Weather
Home Assistant users aren’t totally out of luck. The good news is Home Assistant does have a few alternative Weather-based integrations you can try today. I suspect we’ll see more options in the near future, as well.
Here are a few options that you have to work with today:
Open Weather Map
This plugin uses data from Open Weather Map, and has seen a few bug fixes in the last few days, so it’s likely still working. It also claims to have over 40,000 weather station connections in the world. Also, the free tier allows you up to 60 requests a minute, which would be more than enough to cover a personal Home Assistant installation. I recommend trying this plugin first.
This plugin connects to web data at Ambient Weather, and is updated pretty rapidly–sometime in the last week according to GitHub. This plugin also doesn’t charge you for requests.
National Weather Service
This plugin hooks into data that weather.gov stores, but hasn’t seen any update in over 6 months. While it’s likely it doesn’t have fresh weather data that is as fresh, the upside is there’s no risk of getting charged for data usage.