The Weather App in Windows Mobile

Weather on the Touch Diamond
Weather on the Diamond

I remember facing this problem way back in 2007, when I got my first HTC Touch. One of the Touch’s many selling points (to me) was its snazzy “Touch Flo” interface; and one of Touch Flo’s selling points was its built in weather app.

I’d already become dependent on my mobile device for such luxuries as Email, GPS and online price comparisons when out and about. The Touch’s promise of such a shiny gadget was a big selling point to me – shallow, I know.

The application has one pretty major flaw; as anyone who, has used this ubiquitous weather app and who, like me, lives a distance from one of the limited number of UK cities that the app supports, will no doubt understand. As long as you live in London, Leeds or Edinburgh (or in fact any major city in the UK) then the app works for you out of the box; even better if you plan to travel to Paris, Madrid or Tokyo. If, however, you are stuck to infrequent journeys between out of the way places like Spondon in Derbyshire or Bexhill-on-Sea and the jewel of the Pennines then you’re in for a disappointment.

Not only is the starting list of UK “cities” limited but there is also no provision for the addition of new entries. During my first few days of HTC Touch usage I genuinely felt like Microsoft were telling me that it believed my home town of Huddersfield actually shared its weather with either Leeds or Manchester. This is nothing new, for years Facebook refused to accept that there were thousands of users caught between these two powerhouses of the North – unsure as to whether they should classify themselves as residing in either Leeds or Manchester.

I remember googling at the time and eventually trawling the (incredibly useful) XDA Developers Forum and finding a workaround that would allow me to copy the city database from my device’s ROM, edit it and then replace it. I won’t repeat the steps here as the self same forums have since directed me to a far easier way of adding entries to the list of cities.

Now, to be fair to the people who devise the list, the list provided with my HTC Touch Diamond contained an entry for my local council. I still question the accuracy of this as Kirklees is a huge area; it could be snowing in the Colne Valley and raining in Dewsbury – yet my weather app would display what was happening in Huddersfield centre. Despite this inaccuracy, it is still tolerable when compared with the hoops that I jumped through on the HTC Touch to get an accurate weather forecast.

A few weeks ago I bought my partner a new phone; her very first smartphone. Adamant that she did not want an iPhone, she did want to access email, calendar and internet on the move and was eventually torn between a BlackBerry Curve and a Windows Mobile device. In a surprise move (to me) she chose the HTC Touch 2, a Windows Mobile 6.5 device. It arrived, I helped her configure it and the first thing that struck me was its lack of “Kirklees, UK” (or in fact anything remotely close to us) as a weather option.

The Weather Database Editor
The Weather Database Editor

“Don’t worry,” I said “I’ll add the entries you need”

A quick google, to remind me of the process, brought me back to the XDA Developers Forum and a far simpler process. One kind developer has developed a tool that (in short) allows a user to edit the entries in the weather app’s database. The tool needs the Microsoft .Net Compact Framework 3.5 to be installed first and you’ll need to register and log into the XDA Developers Forum to download the tool’s cab.  (Full details here)

Before using the tool, you should decide which cities you want to view. Once you’ve decided, go to AccuWeather and search for your cities. You may be offered a couple of choices but when you select one, you’ll see the code that is unique to that city, in the URL of the results. For example, “Lindley, Kirklees, United Kingdom” has the code “EUR|UK|UK163|Lindley”.

Once installed, the app is simplicity itself to use. Start it up, select your country and “Edit -> Cities …”. Choose “Edit -> Add City”, then name your city in the “City” field and enter the AccuWeather code beneath it. Click OK, back out and exit the tool and your new city will be available to select in your weather app.

I was so impressed with the tool when I tested it on my Diamond, that I installed it on my partners Touch 2 as soon as I had opportunity. Unfortunately the tool was unable to make the device’s weather database editable. Somewhere between Windows Mobile 6.1 and Windows Mobile 6.5 the database seems to have been locked or encrypted in a way that prevents access.

So I’m still looking for a way to edit the database on my partner’s Touch 2; she doesn’t seem to mind, not being as shallow as I can be.

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