Important: All pictures taken are not direct screenshots from the device - I had to use my camera to take the “screenshots”. So please excuse the lesser quality of the images.
Swift Mobile 1.0 Unleashed
My first impression of Swift Mobile was, “Ok, how can I use this?” Over the course of a few weeks of demo, trial, and error on the application, I discovered the proper answers to this question. While those answers may vary depending on the user, here are my suggested uses for Swift Mobile:
- Checking incoming weather while you’re out in the open or travelling
- Quickly looking up weather at the in-laws or other custom locations
- Getting the most basic current weather and conditions
- Submitting storm reports to Swift and/or the National Weather Service
- Get current conditions and warnings on the Today Screen Plugin
I Need Data!
My big and important usage of Swift Mobile came rather unexpected this past weekend when we were coming back from a Twins game in Kansas City. I got a call from my mom asking me if I was out chasing as there were reports of tornadoes in South Dakota. I was totally unaware of this and beings that we were travelling, it was imperative that I know if we were close to any danger. After getting off the phone, I was on Swift in minutes looking at the situation. It was EXACTLY what I needed, RIGHT when I needed it. If there had been tornado warnings in our path, I would have gotten us to pull over and seek shelter immediately. As we pulled into a rest stop later that night, I anticipated checking out the public information computers there. Ironically, the computer was down and not working at all. Yet another time I was so very thankful that I had Swift Mobile with me.
No More Thumbing
It may be easy to find the right weather websites on a computer, but with a mobile phone you’re left thumbing in guesses in search engines to find the right site to show you the weather data. Swift Mobile delivers it all to a single platform and is direct data at your fingertips. With the GPS integration, I can know within a reasonable area where I am located. The application offers different layers including: satellite, radar, surface fronts, wind vectors, warnings and a few more. There are also more layers and backgrounds to be added in future versions.
I can also add custom locations. Last fall, I learned the value of knowing what the weather is like for my family across the U.S. My aunt and her family lost their house to a tornado that was only severe warned at the time. The next radar scan would have shown that the situation was much more dangerous than thought. With custom locations, I can view the radar around each different family and see if they may be in danger. While Swift WX, a Windows application developed by the same company, would be a little bit more accurate and contain the perimeter alarms, I can at least look this up if I am out on the road and be able to call family to warn them. This tool can very well be a life-saver when you don’t have any other means to get on the internet except with your phone.
Perhaps the most wonderful and amazing feature of this software is the storm reporting tool. Not only does it upload these reports to the Swift servers, but it can actually relay this information directly to the National Weather Service. Emergency coordinators could have these in the field and be able to submit reports and even attach a picture of the severe feature they are looking at. Yet another instance where Swift Mobile can save lives! Last year, our softball league was on the fields when a parent called and informed us that a tornado warning just went out for a storm that was 15 minutes away. With Swift Mobile, I could have found out earlier that conditions were getting worse and that we needed to find shelter immediately. Some people ended up seeking shelter under a gazeebo - fortunately all that came was hail. There really are countless scenarios that could be run into where this tool could aid in making the safe decision.
Version 1.0 is not without its limitations (or minor bugs) - yet believe me when I say that it was the perfect tool I needed while we were coming back from K.C. My phone, a Treo 700wx, only has a 240 x 240 resolution which lends itself to problems when icons are too big. I have put in some requests with the developer of Swift Mobile and he is at this very moment working to solve those problems. I cannot say that I’ve ever met someone more open to receiving feedback about their work. He truly cares about providing a more quality product and is always patient when dealing with customers. Another great thing about the developer is that he actually is a weather enthusiast - so he really enjoys his own products and gets use out of them himself.
There is a cost associated with the application - $10.95 for a basic version and $13.95 for a premium version. I do think that with the storm reports, this is really a must for emergency managers and personnel needing to dole out equipment to those who maybe don’t have their HAM license yet.
Feel free to browse the gallery of different snapshots of Swift Mobile:
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