16
Jul
wb

There are uncountable multitudes of weather apps in the Play Store, which makes Earth Networks' latest move all the more perplexing. The company has removed its popular WeatherBug Elite app from the Play Store, much to the chagrin of paying users. We reached out to Earth Networks looking for specifics about the removal, and have learned that there will only be a single WeatherBug app going forward, and it will offer an ad-free experience in the form of an annual subscription.

2014-07-16 09_04_36-WeatherBug - Android Apps on Google Play 2014-07-16 09_04_13-WeatherBug - Android Apps on Google Play

2014-07-16 09_32_44-WeatherBug - Android Apps on Google Play 2014-07-16 09_31_50-WeatherBug - Android Apps on Google Play

To be clear, the WeatherBug Elite app is completely gone unless you have the direct link, but it won't be updated anymore. I had to dig around to find the package name, and it only shows up if you previously bought it. It should also be in your app list, but good luck finding it. There are some angry reviews (just a few of which are embedded above) accumulating on the remaining free version from users who previously paid for the ad-free version, which sold for $1.99-2.99, depending on when it was purchased. Earth Networks tells us the subscription service will remove ads from the free app in the form of an in-app purchase, presumably a Play Store subscription. It will be annual, not monthly, but the price is not clear. What Earth networks told us:

Anyone who already has already purchased WeatherBug Elite can continue to use it. They just won’t have some of the newer features, such as the photo gallery and the redesigned Spark tool.

We’ll be bringing back the ad-free version, and that will require an annual subscription (not a monthly) via an in-app purchase.

It's hard to imagine there are many people interested in a subscription to a weather app just to get rid of ads. Not to mention, WeatherBug hasn't been any better than competing apps for a while now. Going this route is also going to result in a lot of hate from paying customers who want the Elite app back. It's not a lot of money in the grand scheme, but still a shady thing for Earth Networks to do.

Update: Upon further questioning Earth networks added the following.

As you know, a lot of effort goes into updating any app. And like many app developers, providing continued updates on a pay-once app was not economical for us since we must continue to expand our network and add new safety features. We decided to focus our energy on the free WeatherBug app. But we’ve seen lots of demand for an ad-free version. We haven’t worked out all the details, but we want to keep the cost of the annual subscription low while still being economically feasible for us.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Christopher Bement

    Google Now works fine and it's free. Doesn't have to be even 80% accurate to be 10x better than watching a fooking meteorologist flail around on channel 3.

    • ddpacino

      It's cool, but I still love some of the more advanced features of Accuweather Platinum, specifically the Minutecast feature. Knowing down to the minute when it will rain is pretty clutch, and something I loved with the forecast.io-supported apps like Arcus, which I have paid for along with Weatherbug Elite. I think I've finally found a weather app home....clear and sunny.

      • Ryan

        Yeah, I use Accuweather myself. As unpredictable as North Texas weather is, its not bad at keeping updated. Plus, the radars have good detail to them, so its easy to tell when storms are doing strange things.. (I actually saw a storm starting to rotate on the radar, yet I've heard no warning issued, which was strange, and I was in the same county)

      • tehboogieman

        I'm pretty sure that Minutecast is available in the free version of Accuweather as well. Are there any differences between the two other than no ads in platinum?

        • ddpacino

          You are right, and nope, that's the only difference. I buy when I can. I hate ads.

          ---
          Dell

  • Josh P.

    I assumed this is the route they would go. Here's the email I received when asking them about where the app was.

    Dear WeatherBug Friend,

    Thank you for your email. We have created Case #:xxxxxxxx for your reference.

    The WeatherBug Elite application is no longer available as a new app purchase via the Google Play / App Store. If you have previously purchased the Elite application you can download it via the app store under your apps list – the WeatherBug Elite product continues to operate and function normally. Thank you for your continued support and feel free to contact us with any questions.

    Regards,
    WeatherBug Customer Care

    • RyanWhitwam

      But it doesn't show up in searches or on the dev page. No one knows to look in their app list, and there's no good way to find a single app in there.They should post the direct link in the free app's description, or something.

      • Josh P.

        Trust me when I found this out I was fairly outraged as well. Not only did I have it free from amazon as a free app of the day but I purchased it on the Play store because they refused to update the Amazon version. They told me to ask for a refund and buy it on the Play store.
        The correct route would have been to send out a mass email to all app owners and inform them of the change, but we all know the internet would have exploded on them from that.
        Long story short, I no longer have it installed. Yahoo weather works and looks quite good. They did not have a response when I informed them of that.

  • Josh P.
    • Tiuri Elvander

      Just sent an upset email

  • Joshu

    I'd ditch this app in a second if I could find another weather app that had a decent radar widget.

    • roberto

      you should try eweather hd!

      • Shawn

        Thank you I will check that out! I obviously need an alternative cuz this pricing scheme is CRAP!

    • wicketr

      I gave up looking for an all encompassing app. I use Raindar for my radar. It's awesome and quick to load.

    • blindexecutioner

      I know it isn't as good but I just have my radar bookmarked and on the clock widget I use the weather icon opens that bookmark when I tap it in a floating browser.

  • Chris

    They should just leave the elite version on the store and crack the price up to $100 so people that bought it can still download it.

    • William

      People who bought it CAN still download it. Right now.

      • ddpacino

        It's pretty hard to find, though. That's the problem.

  • le_lutin

    One of my favourite video editors (kinemaster) also moved from one-off fee to a subscription model. It ain't cheap either (something like 30 dollars a year) I just can't understand the rationale for this. I would have easily paid about 5 dollars or more as a one-off, but there is no way I would pay a subscription - I'll stick with the free version which adds a watermark, which I can live with.

    Maybe it's to prevent piracy?

    • Christopher Bement

      But who pirates weather apps?

      • le_lutin

        Evil meteoroligists?

      • GJV

        Yarrr matey...need to be sure the seas rrrr calm.

    • wicketr

      Frankly i see this happening more and more across the board. The smartphone market has become established and the app stores have been around for years at this point. It's simply not as burgeoning a market as it once was.

      Established apps have little to no income year over year as their income is based on purchases that get free lifetime updates. Either the app has to a) switch to a subscription model, b) major updates get release as a new app (ie TapTalk fiasco), c) let development of the app die.

      • h4rr4r

        D) make new versions and sell those. Separate from B in that they include massive changes.
        Computer software does that. I will never pay for a subscription for software.

  • DrakeTungsten

    I actually really like this app, and am somewhat relieved to hear this. I've tried other apps to replace it but for whatever reason I still prefer this one. If the fee is not too much I'll consider it.

  • Itchy_Robot

    Ah man, this was my favorite weather app. I guess its time to find another =(

  • Scott Harris

    I gave up on the app a long time ago. UI is cluttered beyond belief. So many quality, FREE alternatives out there, it's not worth paying a YEARLY SUBSCRIPTION for a weather app.

    • bhake

      Agreed. I switched to 1Weather a while back. No way I'm going back to Weatherbug (Elite) now.

      • YouNex

        1Weathee the best !
        Using it since 1,5 year now :)

  • RTWright

    I used to use it, but as pointed out in the article it really isn't as good as others on the market. I had not long ago discovered Weather Underground had their own app and I downloaded it and h ave not gone back to any other since.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wunderground.android.weather&hl=en

  • h4rr4r

    Who would pay for this?
    Google now is free and if you need more data you can always visit weatherunderground.

  • Jeremy

    The widget for weather bug looks horrible anyway.

  • jellyfish

    Still hands down the best weather app, and I'm happy to pay for a subscription assuming it's a reasonable price.

  • rootyroot

    Root, adfree android to remove all ads, install free app.

    There ya go.

    • shadowx360

      Even better if you don't want to root: just load a recovery of your choice, flash a zip with a HOSTS file. Ad-free on my stock Nexus 7.

      • AuroraFlux

        If you're going to flash a custom recovery, you might as well flash SU while you're at it.

        • shadowx360

          Not flash, just boot into a custom recovery.

          • Joris Griffioen

            Which magically appears?

          • Roh_Mish

            Fastboot boot recovery xyz will just boot from it. Not flash. while fastboot flash recovery will flash the recovery.

          • AuroraFlux

            It doesn't matter if you're booting a custom recovery or flashing a custom recovery, the point remains; if you're going to change out the hosts file, you might as well root. OTA updates will wipe your hosts file and root anyway, it's not like you stand to gain anything by being that weird twilight state of being unlocked but not rooted.

    • Chippah

      You still have a black bar tho, with minmingaurd it stretches the app out.

    • Aaron C

      That's what I did. Jerks. I paid for the app ad-free, and that's what I'm going to get. I can deal with the black bar at the bottom. What I really miss though is the widget with current temp and three day forecast at a glance on it. That doesn't seem to be available in the free version. I foresee ditching WeatherBug permanently at some point.

  • Luxferro

    Just say no to subscriptions :)

  • Kevin Burton

    WeatherBug is also a source option in cloud.tv's HD Widgets, which has a MUCH better UI than Earth Networks could ever conjure up. What's going to happen there? I consistently find their weather readings more accurate than AccuWeather or Weather Underground.

  • Mark

    What a crock of s**t. I hope AccuWeather Platinum doesn't do this too.

  • maestro PL

    That was a while ago. That's wh I couldn't find it in a play store. I had to go to amazon store to install it

  • blindexecutioner

    Interesting. I'd never pay a subscription to a weather service but I would pay up to $5.00 or so for a premium app. In fact, my ad block will probably block any ads the new free version has anyway. I would never support this payment model for an app.

    This is a pretty big money grab. I am guessing they hope people will just continue to use the free app as I would imagine those ads are much more lucrative than even a higher priced premium app.

  • Phil V

    I want some of what they are smoking over there! I will stick with 1Weather thanks.

  • cynthiawallen

    My Uncle
    Riley got an almost new red GMC Canyon just by some parttime working online
    with a laptop. visit their website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Chippah

    Suck it scumbags, I PAID for the app, im not paying again.
    minminguard ftw.

  • Derek B

    I'm glad I pulled the apk from my phone and saved it to my Box account.

  • Matt Terk

    Im one of the other angry reviews on there. This is downright ridiculous. No one should give money to this company ever again

  • techaware

    You can always download purchased apps even if they are unpublished. https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/113410?hl=en

    • GJV

      Yes, but those of us who paid won't be getting updates.

  • merman1983

    I actually kind of like the app - I use it in conjunction with Arcus (it just fills in the gaps in Arcus for me). Thing I really like most is the local radar widget. Luckily, I got it from Amazon so it won't be updated/changed any time soon.

  • duke69111

    Another company who has took an app I paid for and turned it into nothing.

    • techaware
      • duke69111

        Thanks. I still have it installed and i'm using it. My point was more along the lines of how long before they make a internal change to the free app or their system and the premium app no longer works.

  • alacrify

    I would have happily paid (again) for an updated Weatherbug Elite to keep their cash flow going. But until they offer guaranteed features and delivery dates, I'm not paying them a salary. Uninstalled and switched to 1Weather (and I paid to remove the ads and support them - see how that works?)

    • JayEvans

      Exactly what I did.

  • DirkBelig

    At least when SwiftKey went free, they gave 10 premium themes to those who'd bought it. Since I only paid a buck for it when the initial beta ended in 2010 and they've kept updating it into make it even more awesome, I have no complaints other than they need to have colons and semi-colons automatically back up like commas and periods do. If people want emoticons, then it should be simple to code IF ": " THEN BACDQFUQUP; IF ":)" THEN SPACE.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Not to all of us. Somehow I got nothing, despite being a paid owner.

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    So people both paid this company money AND expected honesty from them? Their Windows application is about three inches short of being malware. It's the first thing I remove from every client computer in the process of disinfecting it. It's awful. I would NEVER have trusted them on my phone.

  • jonzey231

    I bought the premium version years ago and beginning about two years ago I couldn't find it in the play store anymore. The only way I could get to it is by using one of the apps that find your past purchases and getting a link directly to it. I figured they were just getting rid of it altogether in favor of the ad based version. I hope they realize that NO ONE will pay a monthly or even quarterly subscription to a weather service.

    • PWNDOTCOM

      They said annual sub, can't you read?

      • RLB63

        You are being petty. Who would pay an annual fee either? I own the elite and switched from weatherbug.

  • bukithd

    They did this months ago. I'm suprised it's just now getting pointed out. It was a great app but they seem to think we are dumb enough to subscribe to a weather service. Accuweather and Yahoo weather are great replacements.

  • http://www.twitter.com/the_sundaypaper Sebastiaan van den Berg

    Subscription for the weather? What a ridiculous idea... Just get Accuweather Platinum or something similar. Pay once and be good with it.

  • GazaIan

    This kills the WeatherBug.

  • Roh_Mish

    From a developer/company point of view, once people have the paid version or the app gets old (and not frequently updated), fewer will buy it. And slowly, your income will dry up. While in a subscription model, you will have to pay monthly/annually. This means a regular source of income. And not updating does not means the Dev is not hard at work.
    But from a consumers doing of view, paying a dollar a month for multiple apps is too costly for us. (A dollar must not be much in US or other counties where it is priced rarely, but for some counties like here in India, although its not too much, you at least think for a week or more even to consider buying it.)

    I think They should offer atleast one year of free subscription to the paid customers.

  • justme

    "continued updates on a pay-once app was not economical for us since we must continue to expand our network and add new safety features."

    I just don't understand this lame excuse.... it's exactly the same as the free app except you remove the ads...???....wtf... live radar wallpaper is the only reason i still use WBE...when someone makes a better live wallpaper we will be breaking up WB

  • Andy Stetson

    Goodbye weatherbug, hello Accuweather Premium (which I got back when it was a dime or dollar).

  • dkbnyc

    I have Weatherbug Elite, 1Weather, AccuWeather Platinum and The Weather Channel apps on my Note 3. I'll be darn if I'm gonna pay anything additional for Weatherbug.

  • Da Billis

    Hmmm. Ditched WeatherBug a few months back after multiple bugs went unfixed. Went with AccuWeather Premium when it was on sale from Amazon. Nice coincidence. As for WB, sorry to see them go this route. The app was quick and snappy on my HTC One (M7), radar loaded quickly. On my Nexus 7, though, a total disaster. Anyway, not a fan of the yearly subscription model, except for music. Good Luck WeatherBug, you're gonna need it!

  • AndTheWorldMayNeverKnow

    This is the same thing the 1Weather app developers did. I hadn't used the app in a while and I went back to install it and it was gone only to be replaced by a free version with in app purchases. I understand they need to make money but I don't think this is the best way to go about it. The people who paid to help support the app already should be grandfathered in some how. I hope other app developers take note of the backlash.

  • http://www.plus.google.com/+TommyNunno yodatom10

    Be weather has been my long standing weather App does everything one could ask for in a weather app.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bellshare.beweather

  • Robert_AU

    Switching to a subscription might be attractive to them but I would not expect many of the paid users that they have burned to pay for a subscription. I have be caught by other apps changing the payment models and expecting me to pay again... They were out of luck. The sad truth is that they use these dishonest practises if they couldn't get away with it.

  • Demigod121

    Goodbye WeatherBug. I left a long time ago and went with Weather Underground. :)

  • krudl3rx

    Weatherbug is the only weather app that puts the day's high/low in the notification. This is why I still keep coming back to it.

  • Trysta

    Really crap. I love their premium app and was happy to pay for it but I'm not going to be bullied into a subscription. What is really irritating is the main reason I updated from the ad-supported version was because the ads actually slowed down performance of the entire app. It was running like a dog on my galaxy nexus but the ad-free version ran just fine.

    I guess I'll just keep using elite until it stops working then switch to someone else (or use the web!)

    EDIT: also this is terrible negative reinforcement. It is already difficult enough to get android users to pay for apps. I though I was doing a good deed by paying for something I could have gotten for free (using the ad-supported version) but I wanted to show my support for an app I use every day. Instead this happens...Please other android developers don't follow this example :-(

  • István Szabó

    This is even more disgusting business practice than that of gameloft. I purchased asphalt 6 and cannot play because I changed phones since then. I cannot even download it to my Nexus tablet.

  • Joe Menard

    they are complaining about 3 dollars .....

  • Jay Allen

    Earth Networks confirmed this via a support ticket I had with them in January of this year:

    "Hello -

    I noticed that radar maps are malfunctioning on my Nexus 7 (2012) runningWeatherbug Elite. The radar images (storms, snow, etc) appear on the screen but there is no map behind them, just a blank space where the map should be. Zooming in and out causes the radar images to rescale correctly, but the map stays blank. Clearing data for the app and reinstalling it have had no effect. Maps work just fine on my S3 running the same version ofweatherbug.

    Any suggestions on how I can fix this? Thanks in advance!"

    Response:
    ======
    "Dear Jason,

    WeatherBug Elite is no longer available and has been discontinued.

    Regards,

    WeatherBug Customer Care"

    (Like many others I switched to 1Weather.)

  • Aaron C

    Thanks everyone for the tip on 1Weather. I hadn't tried that, but it looks awesome. I have adaway and that was blocking ads from the free app (since I paid for Elite a while back, I felt I was entitled to an ad-free Weatherbug experience), but the devs can bite me. I'm uninstalling entirely, never to return. First world problems, but I hate it when devs pull this kind of stuff. Being up-front about it and, say, offering Elite users some kind of bonus for a year would have been fine I think. I like the network of user sites idea, but they handled this all wrong. We have way more options these days than when I first got Elite. Thanks again everyone. 1Weather FTW!

  • DeadlyByNite

    Truth is that most people don't pay, and most ads really pay a lot more than you would think.

  • Blackspots

    I decided to install 1Weather after it was mentioned in the comments here (and paid $1.99 to remove the ads). Definitely a nice app, and I recommend it to others.

  • RLB63

    I recommend you download the free version from both stores. Might have to install it between downloads.

    Next give it a 1 star review. Any company that cheats its customers like this deserves it. It would have cost almost nothing to use the free app with a switch built in to allow the PAID VERSION to just skip the ads.

    Finally give unhelpful/thumbs-down ratings to all positive reviews and helpful/thumbs-up to reviews staying how dishonest a company they are. This will cause those reviews to pop to the to of the list.

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