It’s hurricane season, so I decided to take a close look at one of the many apps in the Android Market that provides information and news about current tropical storms and hurricanes.
Hurricane Hub is described in the Market description as “a comprehensive guide to hurricane season”, and to a degree the app hits on this claim. Essentially a front-end to web content covering storms, Hurricane Hub provides everything from satellite images, computer models, 3 and 5-day cone predictions, headline news and preparedness information. Hurricane Hub gathers great information on the web and puts it in a single, easy-to-use utility app. It’s great for those in the affected areas who need to stay up on the latest news, as well as just for those people who love to just track storms.
The app is broken down into 5 sections, each with an attractive set of icons color-coded to the section:
‘The Hub’ is the application home screen and is where you’ll find general information about latest headline news, eye witness reports, volunteer information, historic storm data, description of hurricane categories and more. The ‘latest news’ was up-to-date and retained news stories from many days back, which was nice. I also found the ‘historic storms’ and category descriptions interesting. And although I could have searched and found all of these things out on the web, it still was nice to have it all in one place. I did have some problems getting the “eye witness” reports to display anything and I found the volunteer information to be just a somewhat messy page of links to websites, so it may be that this application is still a work in progress.
This screen is the most interesting part of the application, and the most useful. It’s really just as it’s named: a collection of maps. Some of the images include: up-to-date tracking maps, computer models, multiple-day path predictions and satellite images for some key parts of the Gulf and Caribbean. You can also get storm surge probabilities for the US with their interactive storm surge screen.
This section is dedicated to preparedness and dealing with the aftermath of a destructive storm. Most of the features in this screen are really lacking or don’t appear to be finished. The “evacuations” page allows you to select a state, and then provides a list of clickable county names that don’t lead the user anywhere. The “Shelters” section wroks, but it appears to be only for Florida residents. The “Supplies” screen has a list of articles, but when I clicked on any of them, the entire screen turned orange for a moment and nothing happened. While the ‘Prep & After’ page does have it’s issues, items like “tips” and “prepare” seemed to be stocked with helpful information.
This screen is pretty much useless aside from the “Eye-Reports” item. It has a list of reports posted to the application and allows you to submit your own. While the time and date are available for each, there is no indication of where the report came from unless the person states it in their post. The rest of the screen contains a few non-active items with messages suggesting to come back after a storm land fall (“find family” and “check my house”), a log in to contribute your own reports and a broken screen with no information (“officials”).
This last section is essentially just a social media connection page with links to the developer’s Facebook and Twitter, as well as a spot to sign up for text updates.
Overall, the app feels a little incomplete. Some of this is due to pending information on the storms, but several sections seem to just not finished or lacking good information. There are some issues with the “back button” functionality where the same screen will continually reload, but other than that, the navigation couldn’t be easier. Also, for a free app, there is very little advertisement and ads aren’t constantly getting in the way.
Hurricane Hub is packed with up-to-date information on the latest storms and provides an easy-to-use, although at times broken, set of tools for storm enthusiasts and concerned people who just want to keep up with the latest information.
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