Android 15 Beta 1 and the curious case of ‘Pixel Weather’

To coincide with the launch of Android 12 and Material You, Google introduced a pair of weather widgets for Pixel in 2021. With the Android 15 beta, the Pixel-exclusive nature of these weather widgets was enshrined.

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In Android 15 Beta 1, navigating to the widget picker reveals that the generic “Weather” section has been renamed to “Pixel Weather.” The two home screen objects are unchanged and continue to be powered by the Google app, while the icon has been updated to that used by the Weather app/service introduced with Android 14 QPR1 in December which currently only powers the functionality of the Clock app.

More precisely, it is the sun on a bright blue background evoking the sky, which is different from a dedicated “Weather” shortcut (sun covered by clouds on a white background) which has seen limited deployment at end of last year. This icon is also different from the shortcut you can place on your home screen from the Weather app.

The Play Store description for this background service is: “Your built-in, personalized weather app for Pixel.” Clock integration for weather after an alarm goes off and your recorded city temperatures does not constitute a “weather app” in any way.

The “Pixel Weather” name change serves no purpose unless it’s a hint of things to come.

I’ve long wanted the Pixel team to deliver a first-party weather experience rather than ceding the experience to Google Search. Last year’s redesign, which debuted on Pixel before spreading to all Android devices, was pretty good, but it’s not perfect. For example, weather notifications sent by the Google app open a new search when you tap it instead of the Weather experience.

A more traditional Android app just for Pixel devices could benefit from faster, more targeted updates. The precedent here is that Samsung and Nothing are going their own way. Additional widget styles and radar would be nice to have. Google has the data/techniques to compete with Apple’s Dark Sky and this should really be leveraged by the Pixel team.

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