Dark Sky, a popular iOS weather app, is receiving a huge upgrade, and its makers believe the all-blinged-out new app has the potential to change the way we get our weather forecasts.

The fifth version of Dark Sky comes with several new features, but the most impressive of this is the ability to tap into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus' built-in barometer and obtain "hyperlocal" atmospheric pressure data that can be used to determine other important meteorological factors, such as the presence of small-scale atmospheric structures that are essential in predicting weather events such as thunderstorms.

The feature is purely opt-in, and users can disable Dark Sky's access to their phone's barometer whenever they like. When the feature is enabled, the barometer will submit regular pressure readings to Dark Sky. This type of weather data gathering is obviously limited to a couple of phones right now, but as smartphone manufacturers pack in more bells and whistles into their products, it's likely we'll see barometer data reporting and other types of weather sensor reporting in the future.

Additionally, Dark Sky is now enabling users to report what the weather is like in their area through the app's new crowdsourcing capabilities. Users can contribute to the data pool simply by choosing one of the weather conditions listed in the app and checking off things such as lightning and fog.

"Up until now, we've relied mostly on government-run weather stations to provide 'ground truth' to validate our forecasts," said Adam Grossman, co-creator of Dark Sky. "But there are relatively few stations worldwide, and they don't always provide timely updates when we need them. By recruiting our wonderful users to help us, we can greatly increase the on-the-ground data that we need most."

The new Dark Sky has a renewed focus on 24-hour reporting. While the original hour-by-hour reports that launched in the original version and the seven-day forecasts that came in previous updates will still be available, Dark Sky is putting a new emphasis on the next 24 hours and will start pushing notifications about important weather events, such as an upcoming thunderstorm, during the time period.

Users will be also be able to choose which notifications they want to receive, such as a daily morning or evening summary, government-issued weather alerts and custom alerts that include information such as temperature, wind speed, humidity and more. Grossman says these custom notifications from Dark Sky have helped him keep his New England garden safe from sudden frosts.

"I've been making good use of custom notifications by having Dark Sky alert me whenever nighttime temperatures are expected to fall below 42 degrees, so I have enough time to cover the plants," he says.

Dark Sky is available on the Apple App Store for $4.99. Existing users of the app only need to install the updates to their iPhones to get the new features.

Photo: Emilio Küffer | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.