Sometimes you have an idea, which you are really convinced about. Our idea was to create a weather station with only an iPhone and a low budget sensor – something we haven’t seen in the AppStore yet.
So we said: “Let’s give it a try!”
14 days later we had an iPhone app developed as well as a beautiful website up and running. And all of this with only a team of two!
Your own weather station
But let’s start at the beginning. The goal was to determine the local weather data and show them on the iPhone.
What sounded like a challenge ended up being – surprisingly – our fastest developed app and website ever.
A “one for all” sensor
To get started we first needed a sensor to collect the local weather data. Thanks to Texas instruments we found the ideal solution: The TI SensorTag, which does this job perfectly.
It has eight sensors. Amongst others it detects:
- Air pressure
This was exactly what we were looking for, as it provides the data you retrieve from any regular weather station!
We ordered it and a couple of days later we used the Software Development Kit (SDK) from Texas Instruments to receive the data via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) from the sensor.
BLE, which is part of the Bluetooth 4.0 specification, is great for transmitting data using only a fraction of the amount of energy. The (replaceable) coin cell battery of the sensor normally lasts approximately one year.
The MyWeatherCenter app
At Flaschengeist Studios we have already developed various iOS apps and have gained enough experience to develop another one.
Starting with scribbles on a piece of paper, setting up a mockup using Powerpoint and we had a rough guess how the app could look like. One screen for displaying the weather data and one for the settings. A couple of days later the first beta was running on our test devices!
Create a beautiful website using Divi
We had tried lots of themes from other companies before, both free and paid ones, but have never been fully satisfied. Around the end of 2012 we discovered Elegant Themes and used their themes for some websites, as they are well designed and have lots of configuration options.
This year around the time when we started developing MyWeatherCenter the Divi theme was released.
So we thought: “Looks interesting, what makes this theme so special?”
We realized that Divi is a quantum jump for the development of websites. The layout and page builder offer comfortable and efficient new ways to compose websites. For people like us, who are not specialized webdesigners, it provides many amazing options:
- Using drag and drop we set up the main layout to give the website a homogenous look & feel for all pages.
- We configured a homepage slider within minutes. All that was needed was content and some pictures.
- The logo was uploaded in the theme settings and appears instantly on the left side of the page.
- The technology behind MyWeatherCenter is not always self-explanatory. With Divi we easily set up a good looking FAQ page with all the questions that are regularly asked.
- A contact form (and many other different templates) are provided with the layout builder. The “Corporate layout pack” can be downloaded here.
More than 50% of people surf the internet with their smartphones. Therefore one K.O. criterion for the theme selection was the ability to present the content of the website on smartphones too. Divi is a so-called responsive theme, which means it detects the used browsing device and adapts the content in the right way for the smartphone’s browser (in the screenshot below on an iPhone 5S):
Integrating social media
To promote the website we are using Twitter, Facebook, Google Analytics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Divi and WordPress support all of them out-of-the-box:
- Inside the theme settings we typed in the Facebook and Twitter URL and a nice shaped icon showed up in the website footer. The user clicks the icon and will be routed to the Facebook or Twitter website.
- With the “Ultimate Social Deux” plugin we also added a beautiful floating social sharing plugin, which integrates itself perfectly into the elegant Divi design.
- Search Engine Optimization is also one important point to achieve a higher page rank for the search results in Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.. Divi offers the option to set up all the basic settings for SEO. In addition we installed the plugins “Google Analyticator” and “Google XML-Sitemaps” which shows the visitor data and automatically creates a sitemap so that search engines can better understand the structure and the content of a website.
Wow, Apple likes the app!
It turned out that Apple was impressed by the website and the app too!
During the review process we noticed that Apple was showing more interest than normal. We were asked to create a movie, which explains the functions of the app. And some days after the app was released and to our great surprise Apple featured it in the AppStore.
The app is currently available in the Top 10 of the weather apps!
Time to open some bottles of beer! 🙂
What’s coming up next?
Right from the beginning we had lots of features for MyWeatherCenter in our minds.
We currently are planning to implement these ones soon:
- Weather forecast for any location
- Usage of more weather sensors (if you have an unsupported sensor let us know!)
- Support for iPad
What do you think about it? Leave a comment here or contact us at www.myweathercenter.net.