I got a new weather app for my phone the other day, because I am middle-aged now and have decided, accordingly, that the weather is interesting. The app is interesting too. It has a slider for "personality" tucked away in a settings menu, and the slider came set to "homicidal." Also, within about an hour of owning the app, it had made a reference to a very recent tweet from Donald Trump.
The idea, I gather, is that Carrot Weather is a weather app powered by a quirky AI. The AI calls me meatbag and is generally mean about everything, and the app is filled with funny little details and asides and hidden features. My favourite thing about it so far - okay, second favourite; yesterday it told me it was going to rain in a minute and a minute later it actually did - is a feature called Secret Locations.
Secret Locations is a means of getting you to mess around with the app's world map, I suspect. The map is wonderful: you can swipe around the world and see storms flocking in real-time. Secret Locations adds a layer of gameiness to everything. Every now and then it gives you a clue about a landmark and you have to go and hunt it down.
If you know where the landmark is, great. An early one was for the White House: not that tricky. But even if you don't know where it is, the app has this neat way of leading you. You press and hold a finger on the screen and it does a radar scan that indicates, in essence, how hot or cold you are with respect to this landmark you're looking for. I had an extremely cryptic landmark clue the other day, but I still managed to track it down in a matter of minutes. You go on a hunch and then refine it from there.
The upshot of all this stuff - the app has achievements too - is that I've started to find the weather even more interesting than I already did. A little playfulness, a little mystery has got me firing this thing up every few hours, and once it's fired up, it's hard not to be drawn in.