As we approach another heatwave in the UK, we usually rely on our favorite weather apps to inform us of how warm the next day and week is going to be. Over the last few years, CARROT has been one of the go-to apps on iOS and Android in doing exactly that, but with a twist.
Developed by Brian Mueller, the app features a character who, depending on how much attitude you set it, can read you the daily weather in the form of abuse or praise, depending on how you’re feeling for the day.
It recently was updated to version 5.0, bringing a big redesign to the app alongside giving users the ability to customize the layout in whatever form they saw fit.
We spoke to Brian about CARROT about how the app came to be, alongside his plans for the future with iOS 15 and other updates due to arrive soon.
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Bringing sass to weather apps
Every project starts with an idea, and for Mueller, it began with a CARROT to-do list app that came before the weather app.
“I created the original CARROT app, the to-do list, because I wanted to build a to-do list that was fun and engaging rather than boring and cumbersome (as most to-do lists were back in 2013).” Mueller tells us. “After CARROT To-Do launched, it just seemed like a fun idea to create a series of apps all featuring the same character. Weather was an obvious next step because it was easy to come up with a bunch of jokes for all the different weather conditions.”
The app saw a huge update arrive at the start of 2020, bringing a whole new user interface while giving users the ability to change the layout of the app to suit their needs. We wondered what drove Mueller to change this for 5.0 now.
“CARROT Weather started out having a purely entertainment-focused design – it was focused more on telling jokes than showing you the weather,” Mueller adds. “Over time, thanks to the popularity of the app, I was able to focus more and more on making the app an awesome weather app as well. The 5.0 design was all about finding the perfect balance between the two different parts of the app, the entertainment side and the professional weather app side.”
An Android version also exists, bringing the sass and the useful features that you’ve come to know on iOS.
“The Android port was surprisingly straightforward.” Mueller explains. “I’d say the only thing that surprised me was that there were so many different ways of accomplishing the same task, like obtaining the user’s location, and that some were less supported than others. But I suppose that’s bound to happen with any platform that’s been around for a decade or more.”
Of course, one big aspect of CARROT is the character itself. You can ask for it to give you mellow answers, or set it to be incredibly abusive if you wish.
“I always wanted to make an app that had more of a snarky attitude because there are so many apps out there that are so annoyingly positive.” Mueller says. “My family has always had that sort of back and forth where we’re constantly making fun of each other, so the tone comes easy to me. And I can just upload jokes to CARROT remotely, so that works out great if I want to get something in there about current events.”
While we did ask CARROT itself how it's feeling in its fifth iteration, we received a strong “no comment” and nothing more.
Finally, with iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey on the way, we wanted to know if Mueller was enamoured with the new features and whether these would see an appearance in CARROT soon. “Yes, there are lots of cool things coming in iOS 15 that I’m planning on using,” he says. “SharePlay, I think, is the biggest and most interesting new feature coming this year.”
Analysis: a weather app with attitude
For years, weather apps were very minimal to users in way of features and even design. These would usually state the weather for the day or the week, and whether it was going to rain. As the years would pass and operating systems would become more refined, it inspired developers to see how weather apps could be better, which is where Dark Sky, AccuWeather and CARROT all came in over the years.
But CARROT brought something different once the character started going viral on social networks, and it hasn’t felt like a joke that’s progressively gotten stale. What’s helped this is keeping the character up to date with the news and current events.
The latest US election, for example, was referenced by CARROT just a few hours later once the polls ended. Users would check the weather and come across the witticisms – and it's things like these that stop the app from being predictable or sticking to the same punchlines. It’s fresh and funny constantly.
With Dark Sky now owned by Apple, and its features slowly seeping into the first-party iOS weather app, we’re already seeing some changes in iOS 15 – despite there still being no dedicated weather app on iPadOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey. But this only means more opportunity for CARROT and other weather apps to be used on these devices instead.
While there’s many possibilities for where CARROT can go, such as replacing Siri and Google Assistant, or being an Amazon Echo skill for your Dot and Fire Stick to recommend you TV shows and movies, there’s plenty to enjoy from a weather app such as CARROT. Its innovation only shows what could be coming up next for the app, once Apple and Google offer new opportunities to developers in the way of new features and devices.
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Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.