Apple blundered when it killed off Dark Sky


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At the start of this year, I woke up one morning and reached for my iPhone where I discovered something awful. Dark Sky, a peerless weather app that had been a trusted guide through years of working life in wet and moody Britain, had died.

This super usable app showed at a glance if you should head to the office 10 minutes early to avoid getting soaked, or go out coatless, or rush home to walk the dog before a downpour, and it had been disabled on January 1. To be precise, it had been killed. By Apple.

A bit of forensic googling showed the tech company had bought Dark Sky back in March 2020 — news I failed to spot at the time on account of a gathering global pandemic. I had also missed stories on tech news websites last year that reported Apple’s plans to absorb Dark Sky’s features into its Apple Weather app, before shutting it down.

I was not alone. “It’s unbelievable,” moaned a friend who said he had been repeatedly drenched cycling to work since Dark Sky had perished.

The internet was indignant. Shifting Dark Sky’s tech to Apple’s “abomination of a weather app” really “sucks” and “might go down in history as one of the dumbest most frustrating things Apple has ever done”, fumed users.

The outcry was still going last week, along with a #bringbackdarksky hashtag, not least because rival apps are worse and Apple’s own weather app is definitely, truly, without any doubt inferior.

It may have incorporated Dark Sky’s next-hour rain forecasts and it may have a lot of colourful graphics and more data. But it takes so many clicks and swipes to decipher it that the result is infuriatingly slow and clunky compared with the user-friendly ease of Dark Sky.

As 2023 problems go, this one is clearly more irksome than important. But it does raise questions about corporate deals that leave consumers worse off, and not just in the tech sector.

In the pharmaceutical industry, researchers think large companies sometimes make “killer acquisitions” of smaller companies purely to bin innovative…