Weather gods app – bringing the weather to life with sound

Update: I have one code left and as the draw is now over, I’ll give it to the next person who contacts me with a request using the form below! Congratulations to Elisabeth, Corinne, Nim and Sandra – your codes will be sent out shortly.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I mentioned the Weather Gods app in my March favourites. I downloaded it because one of my students in Germany had recommended it.

After I published the post, Scott, the app developer got in touch with me and asked if I would like some codes for my readers to download the app. I now have five codes for readers who would like to try out the apps for themselves. I paid for my version and would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the weather, or who wants to try an alternative to the native weather app that comes on Apple devices.

What’s the app for?

Basically it’s a quirky twist on the standard weather app that is accessible, incorporates soundscapes, and has a good variety of options for push notifications.

You have five weather gods – the air god, the fire god, the water god, the ice god, and the moon god. They tell you about the wind, sun, rain, ice or snow, and the phase of the moon.

You can either get this information by opening the app and clicking on the various gods, or you can set up alerts to tell you how the weather is going to be, and if certain events are going to happen.

Within the app are also sounds to bring the weather data to life – falling rain for when it’s raining, sleeping sounds for when a god is sleeping or inactive, and wind sounds for the wind. I think this is more fun than just getting the information.

I find the alerts useful because I want to know things like when it’s going to rain, when it’s going to snow – because I’m still a big kid and think it’s exciting, whether it’s going to be windy, and when the sun will rise and set. The last point here could be especially useful for blind people. I can see whether it’s light outside, but if I have evening meetings online, it’s good for me to know whether I should put the light on beforehand.

I don’t have an apple watch, but there is an app for the apple watch, and there are some fun weather gods stickers in the iMessages app. I hadn’t actually used these before, but if you’re in the iMessage screen, you can select messaging apps, then Weather Gods, and then you can choose from a range of stickers. So I sent S a bunch of glowing suns, angry fire gods and sleeping air gods to see how it worked!

Why was the app created?

I asked Scott why he decided to create this app, and this is what he told me:

“We set out to make Weather God a unique weather app, unlike anything else on the app store – the idea being that the sound scapes would add another dimension to experiencing the weather. We wanted to avoid the classic weather app with icons and a spreadsheet of data. This is why Weather Gods has no icons and instead uses visualisations and sounds to represent the weather conditions.

When we first trialled the beta version we didn’t really have much of a clue about accessibility … but I reached out to the AppleVis community who have been fantastic in guiding us to make the app so accessible. I now think of our app as having many wonderful ways of communicating the weather to our users and voiceover now plays a very important part.

Many parts of the app are voiceover specific … for example, sighted users will be presented with various charts when tapping the weather god icons, whereas voiceover users have a full featured scrolling timeline.

There are also many other examples in the app where we have gone to great lengths to make the best weather app for every user. It’s the same for the Apple Watch as well. In release 1.7 we added smart weather complications specifically for voiceover users – I believe this is a first of its kind for an app. Now voiceover users with an Apple Watch have what amounts to a smart full featured hourly weather forecast for every single watch face. This has been extremely popular with voiceover users who have the Apple Watch – far more so than I expected :)”

I would like to think that our app redefines the weather app for everybody.”

Information for blind people

As we emailed back and forth, Scott also described the images in the app, and I asked him to let me put the descriptions in my post to so that any of my blind readers can get an idea of how the app looks:

The logo with the words ‘Weather Gods’ is on the top half of the image in black and white – the logo is the praying hands emoji.

Below the logo and words are the five gods.

Each god is a bit like a wild, erratic furry ball with a pair of eyes; no mouth, ears, nose etc. Just two small black solid eyes. In the app, each god is animated with their heads expanding, contracting, rotating in this wild, chaotic way. For example, water droplets fly off the water god and small pieces of ice from the ice god. The eyes move depending on what is happening with the weather. Gods are asleep with eyes closed when there isn’t much going on with their weather. For example the ice god would be asleep most of summer. However, all gods react with their eyes when something happens in the app – a lightning bolt when thundery weather will momentarily wake up all the sleeping gods – they have been startled awake 🙂 Gods also react to taps on screen and they will ‘look’ in the direction of the tap. These are just a couple of examples, there are many more in the app.

Describing the gods …

The Fire god is a ball of fire and is orange / yellow in colour
The Ice god is a bit like a rough snowball and is white / light purple in colour
The Air god is mostly white with grey around the edges
The Water god is like a splash of water as it hits the ground and is blue in colour
Finally, the moon goddess is a pictorial representation of the moon and its current phase.

The gods sit in a horizontal line below the logo, words and are arrange left to right:

fire, ice, moon, water and air.”

Final thoughts

Have you tried out this app? What do you think of it?

Some apps about the weather are very visual in the way they are set out and the way they give information, which makes them very difficult, if not impossible for me to use as someone who can’t interact with maps or images.

So, I was happy to discover this app, because I can get the same information as sighted users in a way that works for me. The app isn’t just for blind people, and I think that’s a good thing too. I will always promote inclusive products because then I can use the same things as my sighted friends, rather than having to rely on bespoke solutions all the time.

That’s why I’m interested when I find out that developers have gone out of their way to create an inclusive product that considers the needs of screenreader users. This is not something that we can take for granted. Only yesterday I took my business away from a company that I had been using for 15 years because they were becoming less and less committed to inclusive design. I complain about such bad practices when I come across them, but I also want to use this blog to highlight examples of people who are doing the opposite – making sure that blind users can have a good experience when using their apps or websites.

So thanks to Scott and his team for learning about VoiceOver and also for the five codes. Read on to find out how you can request one.

More from Unseen Beauty and your chance to get the app for free

I have five codes to give away that will let five of my readers download the app for free from the Apple app store (it is usually a paid app). If you’d like one of the codes, please fill in the form. The number of codes is limited, so please only request one if you have an Apple device, and you intend to download and use the app.

I’m going to leave this open until 11:59 on Wednesday 16th May and draw 5 names from the entries submitted using the form below.
Also, if you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

You can also visit the Weather Gods site here.

New and favourite products in March

So we’re well into March now and rather than talking about Springtime, we’re still talking about snow!

That has to be my first favourite for March – the snowy snowflakes! We’ve had two lots of it now. I know I’m lucky because I work from home. Trekking into London during the snow used to be a whole different story, but even then, Cindy and I had some adventures!

We built a snowman and had some wintry walks, crunching through the fresh snow. As someone who can’t see the patches of ice though, this was more fun because I was with S, who was in charge of finding the best path for us. When travelling around in the snow and ice on my own, I tend to be more careful and only do it when absolutely necessary.

On the subject of weather, I have a new app on my phone – the Weather Gods app. It’s a paid app, although not expensive, and if someone takes the trouble to design a useful and accessible app, I don’t expect them to work for free! Basically the ice god tells you about snow and frost, the water god tells you about rain, the fire god tells you about sunshine, and the air god tells you about the wind. You can also set up notifications to alert you about certain things such as rain and snow, and it gives you information about the sunrise and sunset, as well as the weather forecast. The app wasn’t designed for VoiceOver users, but it has won an award for accessibility and I enjoy using it.

New from the Body Shop

I was already a fan of the banana haircare range from the Body Shop, and was excited when the new strawberry line was added. You can get the shampoo and the conditioner in the strawberry scented range, which has been designed to make dull hair glossy and detangled. It contains strawberries from Italy and if you use these products, your hair smells gorgeous for ages!

Overall, I think I’m still on team banana, but these products are definitely something I’d buy to change up my haircare routine. I’m never entirely faithful to one shampoo and conditioner!

Trip to Boots

I make no secret of the fact that I dislike the Boots website in terms of accessibility, both for finding things and checking out. So I don’t spend much money there! However I was out shopping and we popped into boots, so I thought I’d have a look around. As a fan of cream products, I wanted to see what was available .Very little, as it turned out, but I still left with 3 products!

Firstly I have a bit of a lipstick weakness. Rather than getting a bunch of shades from the same brand, I like to have lipsticks from all different brands, so that they feel different to the touch and I can identify them easily. I do mark make-up as well if there are things that feel similar, but having ones from different brands also lets me try out different formulas.

So, I got one from Sleek, and I swear this smells and tastes of chocolate! I also got one from Bourjois .

Our search for cream highlighters, blushes and contour sticks only came up with one, so I got the L’Oréal strobing stick. Good value for money and you get a lot of it! It’s very much about personal preference and what people feel comfortable with, but as a blind make-up wearer, I find creams much easier to work with than powders.

Glossybox

On the subject of cream highlighters, there was a lot of excitement in blogger and vloggerland about the Laura Geller highlighter that appeared in some people’s glossyboxes. I guess some of it was down to the fact that it was a Laura Geller product, but I was still happy to see the love being shown to a cream highlighter – because then hopefully they will become more popular and show up more often in the boxes!

Alas, it wasn’t in mine, so I decided to pop over to Feelunique, which is very accessible, and treat myself to the illuminating stick in Ballerina.

My favourite product from the March box was my first product from Decléor – the Aromessence Neroli Amara Oil Serum. I know, neroli isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but this is a lovely moisturising oil for the evening. This is a travel size, but a little will go a long way. The bottle is rather annoying – it needs a pipette or dispenser top really, so you just need to be careful.

There was also a lipstick in there – from Aryza Beauty, a brand that I hadn’t heard of before. It’s from the velvet ribbon range and claims to have a satin matte finish, though as someone who loves satin lipsticks, I’d say it’s more matte than satin.

Burt’s Bees

I’m on a mission to end this cuticle biting habit that I actually wanted to stop when I started high school. That didn’t work out so well! Anyway, rather than just relying on hand cream, I’ve also got myself the lemon butter cuticle cream from Burt’s Bees. It smells lovely because of the lemon. Wish me luck!

So, what have you been enjoying this month? Let me know in the comments!

Giveaway and discounts

1. If you see this before 9th April 2018, why not also check out my Spring giveaway?
2. You can get £10 off your first Feel Unique order by going onto the site using my affiliate link. This offer is open to new customers only, and the minimum spend is £30.
3. If you want to give Glossybox a go and get 20% off your first box, you can use my code KIRSTY-RGE when you place your first order on the Glossybox site.

Listen to the podcast episode

I’ve also produced a podcast episode about my March favourites. You can look for Unseen Beauty on Apple podcasts (previously known as iTunes), or wherever you get your podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to it here:

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

Blogmas day 11 – things I love about winter

Let it snow! It did actually snow in our part of the world last night. It has now mixed with rain, and there’s not enough to make a good snow dog, but at least it snowed! Some people got up to 32 cm of the stuff, and I do feel sorry for all the people who lost power to their homes over the weekend. Still, even as an adult, I do think there’s something magical about the fluffy white stuff – as long as I don’t have to go anywhere in it!

11 things that I love about winter

People sometimes see winter as a dull and dreary time of the year. It’s true that in England it can be cold and damp, but actually I think there’s a lot to love about winter. Here are 11 of my favourite things!

1. Winter walks
Now that I work from home, I certainly don’t miss running to the train station in the rain and spending the rest of the day trying to dry out! But when it’s dry, I love wrapping up in my big thick coat, hat, scarf, and gloves, and going for a walk. We don’t get a lot of snow around here, but the air is so fresh and crisp – it really feels as though you’re doing something good for yourself, especially as we tend to spend a lot more time inside during the winter.

2. Winter food
I’m not just talking about Christmas dinner here, although I do enjoy roast turkey with all the trimmings! I also mean the home-made pumpkin soups and the hearty stews and casseroles that I make when it’s cold outside. These are really healthy too because they’re basically just meat and vegetables with a few additional herbs and spices for flavour.
I’m not a fan of the traditional desserts like Christmas cake or Christmas pudding, but I do enjoy a slice of chocolate log (a kind of cake) or a mince pie (a sweet pastry case filled with dried fruit and spices).

3. Christmas
Not just Christmas Day though – I mean the whole time leading up to Christmas with all the preparations, getting the tree, decorating it, buying presents, wrapping them, making Christmas food, listening to the music…

4. Winter clothes
AT the moment I’m wearing a soft, thick fleece with a wolf on it. Winter gives me the chance to get out all my warm snuggly clothes that would be too hot at any other time of the year. I think there’s something really comforting about being wrapped up warm!

5. Snuggling up on a cold evening
The wind is howling outside, the rain is lashing down – but it’s ok, because you’re in the warm, snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book, watching a film, or just enjoying a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

6. Christmas markets
They are actually a German tradition, but they are becoming quite popular in the UK now. It’s basically a collection of stalls with people selling gifts, hand-made products, and food. You can usually pick up a tasty treat and find some gifts for Christmas presents, or just for yourself, that are a bit different to what you can find in the shops.

7. Decorating the house
I mentioned this earlier in the part about Christmas. I don’t go for the crazy lights and garden decorations that you can see for miles, but I do like to have a tree, the singing snowman and some greenery around the house.

8. Advent calendars
They really started to be a thing here last year, and now so many shops and brands are doing them. They used to be just for chocolate – you got a little chocolate treat every day, but now there are make-up ones, skincare ones, perfume ones, ones with candles, ones for pets, and ones with food or drinks inside. I love to see the variety, and getting a little treat each day from 1st till 25th December is of course fun too!

9. Snow
We don’t get a lot of it where I live in the south of England, but when we did get some, my dog used to love it. She would roll around on her back in it, burrow down into it with her paws, and do her best to catch the snowballs that I threw for her. Then she’d be really confused about where they disappeared to if they hit the ground.
When I was still at primary school, my family moved to the north of England, where there was more snow. The children used to get excited when it snowed because it often meant that the school would close and they could go sledging!

10. Time off work
I haven’t always taken holiday around Christmas time, but people don’t usually want training courses at this time of year, so now I usually take a couple of weeks off at the end of December. I don’t usually go away, so it’s holiday at home with my partner, and it gives me time to catch up with family and friends.

11. New Year
I’m not a fan of huge parties for New Year. Most years I stayed home with my dog, or celebrated locally with friends. When I used to live in London, I wasn’t interested in going to join the huge crowds. But I like New Year because it’s a new beginning – a fresh new year with so many possibilities. Like a blank page waiting to be filled, or a new chapter in a book.

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 1?

L’Occitane – today I got another shower gel, this time the shea one. L’Occitane shower gels are lovely, and I prefer them to the oils. I haven’t had this one before, but I like the range.

M&S – after being so happy with yesterday’s mask (I tried it out yesterday), today’s offering was a make-up sponge. I can’t get excited about make-up sponges and do feel that this was a bit of a filler gift. It’s the first thing that I won’t use, so I suppose that’s not bad. I’ll find someone to give it to or put it in my give-away box – It’s not a bad product, I just can’t get very enthusiastic about it!

Question of the day

Today’s question – do you give or receive Christmas stockings? I don’t any more, but I always had one as a child, usually after Christmas dinner.

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Blogmas day 8 – let it snow!

So, you see it on a lot of the Christmas card images and it’s featured in Christmas songs. Even though we don’t get it every year, it feels like part of Christmas!

What is it? Snow!

When the first flakes fall, there’s a flurry of activity on Facebook – people posting pictures of it and saying how much they enjoy it. Then you get one or two people who can’t understand the excitement and wish that it would just go away.

I have to say I’m in the first group. I love the stuff, but that’s probably something to do with the fact that I work from home now and don’t have to stand out on a cold train platform trying to find a train that will actually take me home amongst all the delays and cancellations.

How do you feel when it starts to snow? Do you join in the excitement and stare out of the window, or do you think of all the problems you’ll have because of it?

We don’t get so much here in the south of England, although I can think of at least two years since I’ve been living here that we had enough for me to build a huge snow dog on the table outside! Of course there was the story from yesterday when I got locked out in the snow, and there was a very snowy Christmas day when I was lucky to get a taxi home from my friend’s house. I understand that some people who don’t want to celebrate Christmas are happy to work on Christmas Day, but was particularly grateful to that taxi driver for being out in those horrible icy conditions.

My family moved to Yorkshire when I was 7, and we had a lot more snow there. The children waited for the first snowflakes and hoped that the school would close so that they could go home and play out in it. We built a huge snow lady one year (why should it always be a man?!) and my grandparents took a picture of our dog standing with her paws on its shoulders as though they were dancing together.

We don’t get as much as other European countries, but a little snow, and I’m talking a couple of cm, can bring the whole country to a stand-still because we’re just not used to it. I’ve seen people laughing about it on German TV, so I know our European neighbours must think we’re a bit inept – the problem is that we don’t have snow all the time, just a few days each winter, so we don’t invest in the infrastructure to deal with it. The main roads are gritted, but many of the smaller ones aren’t.

Whenever I could, I used to try to work from home on snowy days because walking with a guide dog in the snow has its own set of challenges. It’s maybe different in countries where there is a lot of snow and the dogs can train in it. Dogs are trained to stop at the kerb, but that’s not easy when they can’t see the kerb because it’s under the snow. And my dog didn’t understand why I didn’t want to do our usual power-walk to the station – after all, she had four legs and was better at staying upright! I love going for walks with friends in the snow, but it does dampen the sound, which makes things sound different if you’re relying on your sense of hearing to help you get around.

So, will you be happy if there’s a white Christmas this year? What do you like to do when it snows?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

What did you find behind door no. 8?

L’Occitane – this is one of my favourite products from L’Occitane – it’s the comforting cream! It’s such a lovely face moisturiser. It’s light and it absorbs quickly, but it also provides a good amount of moisture and I really enjoyed using the full-size one I had earlier in the year. I was very happy to get some more.

M&S: Eyeko black magic mascara. I’ve never tried anything from this brand, so that’s cool, and neither have I tried a mascara in a tube! It’s always a bit weird when I try a mascara for the first time because I can’t see the brush and have to get used to a new length and shape each time. I do like this product – it goes on well and there is no clumping – but I’m fussy about brushes and I don’t like the curved ones. I would use this as a spare, but I wouldn’t buy this brand unless I found one without a curved brush.

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