How Weather Affects the Voice Ecosystem

Weather forecasts are a convenient out-of-the-box feature of voice assistants with one particular trait that application developers pine for: a daily use case. While the basic built-in capabilities like telling you the weekend forecast or what the weather is like in Kuala Lumpur more than suffice for the average user, true weather geeks are left wanting more.

To find out what’s tickling the fancy of weather aficionados worldwide (and to find out, what, if any, differences exist between platforms), we decided to analyze the weather categories of both the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant stores. What we found after the jump.

(Image: Amazon)

Dense Amazonian Rainforest

As of September 1st, 2018, Amazon's Alexa platform featured more than eight times as many weather applications as the Google Assistant platform (587 vs. 70). Double-clicking on that number, however, reveals the disparity is not quite as great as it first appears.

More than half (~300) of the weather skills on Alexa are limited in scope to providing snow reports for individual ski resorts (e.g. “Snow Report for Vail Resort”). Further, the majority of these snow report skills have zero ratings, which implies little to no regular usage (though that may change now that we're into ski season).

This isn't to say that skills for individual ski resorts aren't delighting consumers, just that the absence of these apps for the Assistant platform makes high-level comparisons much more difficult.

A Chilly Reception

A survey of the most popular and well received weather applications on each platform reveal that:

  • With one exception, weather skills on Alexa have thus far failed to meet the needs and expectations of consumers
  • Google's in-house weather application is head and shoulders above any other application when it comes to reach and user satisfaction

Google's Weather action had garnered 15,137 reviews at the time of our analysis, more than 20 times the number provided for the Alexa Weather skill. Further, while Google's action had an average user rating of 4.6 out of 5, Alexa's was just 2.4.

A few other interesting weather observations:

  • AccuWeather has an application on both platforms, and while both are poorly rated, the Assistant version had a rating a full star higher (3.2 vs. 2.2)
  • The 'Big Sky' skill from Philosophical Creations was the most popular and highest rated third-party app for Alexa, with a 4.5 star rating and more than twice as many reviews as the Alexa Weather skill
  • The Rover station skill (weather on Mars) was well received with a 4.6 star rating, but is no longer available for Google Assistant

[Interested in more insight and analysis of the voice ecosystem? Read our report on the State of Alexa Education Skills for Kids.]

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