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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

cliMate v3.6 Released!

I am pleased to report that version 3.6 of climate Animated Weather Widget has been released.

What does this new version have, you ask?

  • Added Night and Sunrise/Sunset scenes to Chinese Art Theme
  • Clock can now be moved and resized
  • Improved Clock resolution and readability
  • Added Portuguese Translation
  • Improved Russian and Hungarian Translation
  • Bug fixes for clock refresh
  • Simplified settings layout
Here are a few examples of the Chinese Art sunset and night scenes:


Then for the clock resizing, this is now accessed via the new Clock settings screen available from the main Settings:

The Size and Position setting now lets you drag the clock to any of 9 positions, and drag the slider to change the clock size, all the while seeing a preview of how it will look on your widget:

This works of course for all the clock styles, including analogue, and gives you a lot more freedom to customize your widget. I currently like the look of a smaller clock on the bottom right:

In order to support clock resizing, I have had to improve the resolution and sharpness of the clock, and that have also given me the freedom to change clock fonts in the future, look for that in the next version.

So what's next? I want to have a morning/day/evening/night forecast for the current day, something like the look below. You would then be able to swipe between this and the usual 5 day forecast. This is work in progress, but I know now exactly how to get that daily forecast information.

Then of course, new themes. Still playing around with various ideas, but I do like the idea of a Jungle theme, even though it will be hard to justify a snow scene!

Other ideas include window style frames that could be added to various themes, and perhaps a coastal lighthouse. Keep your ideas for themes coming in!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

cliMate version 3.5 Released!

Finally the new version 3.5 of cliMate Animated Weather Widget is released!

It contains the long awaited Chinese Art theme:

This theme has an oil painting feel, so everything is a little smudged and blurry, as if an oil painting has come to life. It features a lake with drifting water lilies, mountains and a water fall, a bridge with a horse and rider running across to a temple, and a fishing boat. Cherry tree branches sway in the wind, and flower blossoms drift slowly down.
Mostly black and white with a few splashes of colour. Hope you all like it!
This version also features a new Transparent Theme, where your chosen wallpaper can be seen behind the widget.
Also the ability to hide all the widget text entirely, if you just want to see the weather pictures with no distractions.
Finally, added Hungarian and Russian languages.
Next up, as always working on new themes, but also want to add a Morning/ Afternoon/ Evening/ Night forecast on the main screen, which would look something like this:
You would then swipe between this and the usual 5 day forecast. :o) Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chinese Oil Painting

A tweak to the last post, its clear that the style I have produced is more like an oil painting than a water colour, in fact the graphics effect I was using was named Oil Painting, not sure why I was thinking it was a water colour.

I was then able to apply the same effects to the animated forecast thumbnails; see below for a full screen version of the theme.

Now going to experiment with tweaking the red sun a bit to make it look more like a painting, and then will start on the other weather conditions.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Yet More Chinese Theme

I really wasn't happy with the overall look of my new Chinese Theme.

The layout and ideas were fine, it just didn't look right, too faded out. I know was trying to emulate a sketch or pencil drawing, but it just doesn't have the impact of the other themes, it didn't look pencilly enough, and it was not easy to see at a glance what the weather condition is, which is after all the whole point.

So I was playing with ways of increasing the contrast, making it darker and more easy to see, and came across a nice visual effect to make it look more like a water-colour painting.

As it happens I visited the studio of a water-colour artist during my recent holiday in England, and it inspired me a little. Thus the theme now looks a lot more like a moving painting, more arty and abstract, and less worry about photo realism.

I think this is an improvement on the screenshot in the last post, much easier to see what is going on, and if nothing else gives me an obvious title for the theme: Chinese Watercolour

Thursday, July 16, 2015

More Chinese Mountains and themes..

Coming towards the end of the design for the Chinese theme now.

Improved flowers on the lake, both static and moving, and fixed the mountains in the background.

Here it is with the weather text overlay:

Click for a larger version. I will be able to start work on the weather conditions soon.

Then a quick preview of the African Savannah idea, just the backgrounds at the moment, but I like the contrast of the yellow and blues, as opposed to the greens of the normal countryside:

Watching the new Zoo tv series is what gave me this inspiration, and another scene set in Tokyo makes me really want to a proper Japanese painting theme, similar to the Chinese but more abstract.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More Chinese Theme..

Been doing more work on the Chinese Painting theme showing a misty mountain lake, see below:

First off, blending the edges so they fade into white, to give more of a paper or canvas feel.
Then added a bridge and gatehouse in the foreground, with a new animation of a galloping horse and rider that runs across the curve of the bridge.

The fishing boat now drifts slowly behind the bridge.

The waterfall animation is improved at larger resolutions, and the flying birds are faded out a bit so that they don't appear so high contrast.

The tree branches on the right still wave in the breeze, and drop flower petals at random intervals.

The pink water lilies at the front drift across the lake.

Still to do:
  • Improve the lily animation and add more flowers to the lake foreground.
  • Redo the far mountains behind the temple
Then will start work on the weather animations, and changing the colours of the forecast thumbnails so that they work with the white background.

I have decided to keep this a more stylized theme based on a single painting which is set during the day, so there will be no sunset or night versions. That will also mean its quicker to finish!

After that I need to investigate a city theme, but I had a nice idea for a African Savannah theme, with Kilimanjaro rising in the background, waving yellow grasses in the foreground, some nice baobab trees that would look great in silhouette at night and during sunset, and of course some nice animated animals, perhaps giraffes. And maybe a landrover crossing the screen..

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Chinese Painting Theme sneak peak..

So I have been working on a new theme, and here is a sneak peak; the concept is an animated painting of a misty mountain lake in Japan or China. It is based on Chinese ink paintings, so its quite monotone, with just splashes of colour.

Still work in progress, but has some nice and different animations. I have included a waterfall for the first time, which I am very happy with; I am sure that will be reused in themes to come. Then there is a fishing boat that drifts out of the mist, the usual flying birds, some floating water lilies, and flower petals that drop from the waving tree branches. And as there is a lake, it shows water ripples as the raindrops splash down during rain scenes.

All the usual Weather conditions will be present, but maybe a bit more stylized than the other themes. I haven't decided yet whether to include sunset and night variations, or just stick with the idea of an animated painting.

And I cant quite decide whether it should be Chinese or Japanese, the gate type structure is only found in Japan, but the mountains and the temple in the background are more Chinese. So I'm also toying with the idea of replacing that with a bridge of some kind, maybe joining the left and right sides.

Anyway, here is a quick screenshot:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

cliMate v3.4 Released

This was a quick release to fix a long standing issue since 3.0 that I finally got a handle on, as I was getting several reports of the Current Location not working, which just didn't make sense. If the phone returns a set of GPS coordinates, then the weather providers should always return data for the nearest weather station, but this was failing, even though the coordinates had been obtained.

With the help of one user, we narrowed it down to World Weather Online, and to when running under Czech language, at which point I could replicate and fix it.

It turns out that many languages use the comma character ',' to indicate a decimal point, instead of the period character '.' which is used in the UK, US etc. When the phone was running under such a language, it was returning the GPS coordinates using a comma, so -13.48123 became -13,48123. Open Weather Map is able to handle both commas and periods for decimal points, but World Weather Online was always expecting a period, so it was failing and returning error messages.

This is now fixed, and v3.4 should now have the Current Location working fine under all different locales and languages for all Weather Providers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CliMate Animated Weather Widget version 3.3 released!

The new version 3.3 of cliMate is now available!


  • New Stonehenge Theme!
  • All forecast dates now correctly localized
  • Added moon rise and moon set in Main Screen night conditions
  • Added option to hide contrails
  • Added option to hide Date
  • Added choice of windspeed units
  • Improved layouts when widget resized to extreme widths
  • Bug fixes for rare crashes
  • Bug fix for countries that have multiple cities with the same name
So what's next? Already started on a Chinese Ink Painting style theme which looks promising, then I think its about time for a City theme.
Also I'm toying with the idea of an alternate forecast view on the main screen, perhaps for the next 12 hours, arranged in a clock style circle, and animated of course. You could then swipe between that detailed forecast for today, and the general forecast for the next 5 days.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Version 3.3 nearing release..

So I have been hard at work on the next version of cliMate, with a lot of minor bug fixes but several notable improvements.

First off, a brand new Stonehenge theme for the widget, which looks really dramatic and striking:

Then a new Moonset and Moonrise animation and time indicator on the main screen, which is shown instead of the sunrise and sunset animation during night time scenes:

Then a whole bunch of small fixes for things:
  • Ensuring the dates on the forecast are shown using the correct local settings, e.g. 5/26 in the US versus 26/5 in Europe
  • Fixing the layouts when the widget is stretched extremely wide
  • A range of crash fixes
  • Fixes for forecasts where the Chance of Storm condition was used instead of Thunderstorm
  • Improved animation on Thunderstorm forecast animation
  • Added the ability to hide today's date
  • Added the ability to hide the jet contrails on the Clear and Partly Cloudy conditions
I had the occasional report that the clock shown on the widget is not syncing up with the phone's actual time, but until now I have not been quite sure how to deal with it. So also trialing a new method of determining when the screen is switched on and hence when to update the clock.
A lot of testing to go, and then should aim to release maybe next week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quick cliMate 3.2 Bug fix

Well, that was annoying.

No sooner had I published cliMate 3.0 then I discovered 2 annoying bugs.

For World Weather Online I was retrieving the Moon Rise and Moon Set data, in preparation for the next release when I will use them to add a moon animation.

However, I had assumed that data would always be available, and so when this morning it produced a "No Moonset" condition instead of a time for a particular location, it failed, making it impossible to update the weather or add a new widget for that location.

Also discovered that when searching for a city name, it was ignoring the country code on the returned results. This was found due to a user in Rome, with a widget with the city name of "Roma". When updating, it was bringing back data for the first Roma it found, which was in Australia, rather than Roma, Italy. So the user was seeing an Australian time-zone and Australian weather.

Now the country code is being appended to the retrieval, and the correct city and time-zone is being returned.

A new version 3.2 has these fixed.

cliMate Animated Weather Widget v3.0 Released!

cliMate Animated Weather Widget version 3.0 was released today, and features the following enhancements:
  • New default World Weather Online weather provider
  • Improved main screen that matches Widget theme
  • New sunrise/sunset information on main screen
  • Windmill rotation matches current windspeed in main screen
  • Improved animation on main screen when swiping between different locations
 After the upgrade, any existing widgets will remain using Open Weather Map until they are manually switched over to use World Weather Online, which can easily be done by clicking on the Set Location within the Settings screen, then clicking on the Preferred Weather Data setting to choose the World Weather Online provider:

It will then search for the original city name or current location via World Weather Online.

All new widgets will use World Weather Online from the start, unless told otherwise.

This should fix the 2nd of the two major complaints about cliMate, firstly that is wasn't resizable, secondly that the data wasn't accurate.

World Weather Online seems just as good (if not better) than AccuWeather, so hopefully the accuracy issue will be laid to rest.

Next up: Adding a moon rise/moon set indicator, and the Stonehenge theme.

Then, working on new themes, all suggestions welcome!

Monday, March 30, 2015

CliMate Update - New Main Screen and Weather Provider

Time for an update on recent work to CliMate.

On the main screen:
  • The layout for a particular widget location is now much improved and linked to the chosen Theme for that widget.
  • If the Countryside Theme is chosen, the windmill rotation is based on the current wind speed
  • There is a new sunrise/sunset animation; the sun rises over the sunrise time indicator, travels across the "sky" and sets above the sunset time indicator. 

Also started to add a new weather provider. The accuracy of OpenWeatherMap varies enormously according to location; for some areas it is perfect, others have severe problems with accuracy. For other locations, the accuracy depends on the time of year; here in Hong Kong for example its fine throughout the year apart from about 3 months around April, where it is not able to keep up with the constant shifting of fine weather to rainy weather.

Everyone wants AccuWeather, but they are no longer giving out API keys; so I can't get free or paid data for it.

The next best option seems World Weather Online; based on my tests so far it is more accurate and up to date than OpenWeatherMap, but of course is not free. So I will be rolling that out with the next release and hoping that will resolve most users accuracy issues.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New cliMate Work in progress..

After the successful release of version 2.0 of climate featuring fully resizable widgets, its time to start work on the next set of features.

Currently working on new Weather Providers, and trying to balance the free services they give against the potential number of users. One service for example, whilst probably giving better results than Open Weather Map, has a limit of 4000 requests a day. Assuming the weather is updated say 8 times a day, that only allows for 500 possible users, which is pretty low.

Simultaneously I am working on getting the main app screen to match the theme of the widget. This is going very well, and I will be adding even more features to that screen, but it is a little slow to display, not quite sure why.

Anyway, here is the main screen before:

And what it will look like on the next version! That's right, you get the full sized animated version of the widget, with all the bells and whistles, forecasts, humidity and animated Beaufort Scale wind speed. I hope to match the windmill arms speed to the Beaufort scale, when the windmill theme is being shown.

I will play around a little with the proportions of the forecast areas and humidity area to get it perfect.
Also hoping to add an animated sunrise/sunrise time indicator on the left.
I also made it slide left and right when you swipe the screen to look at other locations, but again due to the slowness displaying the new layout, its not that fast. I hope I can fix that, as it looks fantastic.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

cliMate 2.0 Released!

Finally, the new version 2.0 of cliMate Animated Weather Widget is released today on Google Play.This now has fully resizable widgets.

On Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich devices, the widgets stretch the current condition layout to the resized area.

On Jellybean, KitKat, Lollipop and higher, the widget layout depends on the aspect ratio of the resized area:

  • If the new area is roughly rectangular, it just displays the current condition:
  • If the new area has space below, it shows a forecast, the size of which depends on how much space there is to show it. The more space, the more detail.

In addition, the Skyscape and Black Glass themes have been greatly improved, the default widget size itself is much larger than before so it fills more of the screen, and there are new options to hide not only the border (to get a Samsung style flat widget) but also hide the birds and airplane if required.

So what's next? I will be working on the following simultaneously:

  • Adding new Weather Providers
  • Updating the main app screen so it reflects the widget theme, rather than always showing a Skyscape style layout
  • Adding a Stonehenge theme (see below for initial ideas):

Enjoy the new version!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Almost ready for Resizable release!

Well, its been a tough 2 months, I didn't think I was going to be able to do it when I first started, but finally I have all the Weather Conditions for all 3 themes converted to a fully resizable format.

The Black Glass and Skyscape themes have been given a new lease of life, look much better in the larger sizes with the built-in forecasts.

I just added a new notification that is shown when your widget is set to Current Location but your device can't get a current location. This is usually caused by the device's Location Settings being switched off, which might not be due to a deliberate action by the user, but could have been automatically done without the user's knowledge in low power situations, or by some Battery Saver type apps.

Testing the new version on all 4 of my devices right now, then will release a version 2.0 hopefully this weekend. It is going to have to be a minimum Android version of 3.0, but that is no great hardship, as it only rules out 7% of all devices at the moment.

Then after release, its time to look at new Weather Providers..

Friday, February 13, 2015

cliMate Weather Progress and Roadmap

So good news to report, all the Countryside Theme conditions have been converted to resizable versions, and I am half way through the Skyscape Themes, as they are a lot quicker and easier to do. Then its the Black Glass Theme which should be quicker still.

So I am hoping another week to get all the Themes complete. Its Chinese New Year here in Hong Kong next week, so I will have more time to work on it over the holiday.

Then I have to clear up all the unused images that have been replaced by the resizable versions.

At that point I think I will release version 2.0, as making it fully resizable is a major step.
I will also include a few bug fixes and enhancements, such as providing a notification when you have set it to use Current Location but your Location settings have been switched off. This can happen due to Battery Savers and sometimes its just easy to forget.

Then what?

It has to be the Weather Provider, getting so many complaints about Open Weather Map data. I will look at the terms and conditions of AccuWeather, WeatherBug, WorldWeatherOnline etc and see what data I can get for free. It will be limited, but I need to do something about it.

Whilst I am doing that, I will work getting the main app forecast screen to mirror the widget theme, so if you have chosen the Countryside theme it actually shows that instead of the default Skyscape.

Then next theme will be Stonehenge, as its an adaption of the Countryside theme, and thus will be pretty quick to implement, and it looks amazing and dramatic in the sunset and night conditions..

And after all that, hopefully I will have a nice stable system with good weather data, and I can start work on more complicated themes. Current ideas for themes include:

City in front of a river
Chinese Painting style
Pine Forest with cottage

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

More resizing work.. snow complete

Working as fast as I can on the resizing, but its an awful lot of work.

Completed snow today, onto snow showers, then sleet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

4x2 is still going to be there!

I had an email asking if the 4x2 widget was still going to be available, as all the recent screenshots I have shown have been of the larger sizes. Yes, it most definitely is. The default size when you add the widget is 4x2, but you can then drag the edges like any other resizable widget, and make it whatever size you want.

Here is the new 4x2 style on the top, and the current version on the bottom, so you can see how the new one has stretched to use more of the available 4x2 area.

Monday, January 26, 2015

More resizing work...

Improved the Chance of Storm and Thunderstorm conditions while I am doing the resizing. Looks a lot more natural now. This is resized to the maximum 4 x 5 on my Galaxy S5.

It looks even better on my tablet as a full screen widget.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Enhanced Widget Forecast View

More work on the forecasts, when expanded to a very tall size, there was a lot of empty space at the bottom of the forecast area that wasn't being used. The only daily forecast information I have to fill that empty space is humidity and wind direction, without animation they don't look so great.

So why not put the condition name there, instead? Because there isn't enough room... unless I rotate the text!

Having a few issues with the Storm clouds, but should sort that out tonight, then on to the rain.
Also added the ability to switch off the plane and birds, although I will redo their graphics at some point to make them look a bit more realistic.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More resizable widget work in progress

The resizable weather widget is coming on well after a few false starts. The forecast is now showing when necessary, although it's not fully animated. That puts too much strain on the widget, so it's limited to a rotating sun, animated the rain forecasts etc unfortunately slows the widget down too much.

Anyway it looks great, completed all the clouds scenes now, starting work on the storms, rain and snow scenes.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Started work on resizing..

Well I was pleasantly surprised at the sales of cliMate Weather Widget once it was released; considering I had done no promotion at all it is starting to get picked up and shared, and I had a nice little surge around Christmas time and New Year. 

Sales have now dropped again, so this gives me some motivation to address the issues that have come up in support requests.

The 3 most common complaints are:

1. Its not big enough
2. Its not resizeable
3. The weather detail sucks

I can't do a great deal about 3 at the moment. Open Weather Map is the only service that provides totally free data, so it is was the obvious candidate. The others such as AccuWeather, World Weather Online etc provide free data but with limits to the number of requests, so I don't want to have the situation where customers can't get a weather update because an apparently arbitrary limit has been reached. 

I can't just pay for a service as they charge monthly, so I would have to make more from my cliMate sales than they charge per month in order to make a profit, and would have to do that for the lifetime of the product which is not realistic. If sales fall to nothing, I would still have to pay for the data, thus losing money every month. Im sure there is an another approach, but I am leaving it just of the moment. 

What I can do is 1 and 2. I initially made the widget a fixed 4x2 size as that was the only way I could get the animation to work, the unique selling point of cliMate. Still no one else's widget can do that! ;o)   

After weeks of brainstorming I worked out a way I could get the animation to work and also allow it to be resizeable. Great, but what happens if you resize it too much? Make it much taller than wider for example, and the aspect ratio is all wrong and the countryside and clouds look far too stretched and distorted.  The solution is to keep the widescreen aspect ratio of the countryside scene at the top, and use any spare space below to display the forecast, showing more or less data according to how much spare space there is. 

This does mean I have to redo all the scenes to handle this change, but actually making it resizeable has forced a few extra efficiencies in my code, so it will take nowhere near as long as I had feared, I am hoping a few weeks to a month. 

So voila, here is the first screenshot showing a resized widget that properly fills the width of the screen, and also shows the forecast in action. And yes, of course the forecast is animated!

Just compare it to the current version below.. the new version is much bigger and nicer.

And yes, I am doing a border-less option also, for those who like their Samsung style full-width widgets:

Will be busy again for the next few weeks..