Sunbeam: Spring 2021 Update

It’s been about a year since I released my first major update to Sunbeam, and the past 12 months have truly exceeded my expectations. The highlight of my app development journey so far came when Sunbeam peaked at the 8th most downloaded weather app in the US App Store last May – way beyond any expectation I had when I started working on it as a hobby project back in 2018.

Sunbeam is still a passion project first and foremost, but as it’s evolved I’ve come to see an opportunity to make what I think (and hope) is the best UV forecast app on the App Store. Sunbeam’s spring 2021 update is the next step towards achieving that goal, bringing significant refinements to key elements of the user interface as well as some of the most commonly requested features from customers. I really hope you’ll like it!

Vitamin D and sunburn timers

Sunbeam Pro now lets you track your UV exposure through a new timer that reminds you:

  • When you might be at risk of sunburn, based on your skin type and whether you’re wearing sunscreen.
  • When your body has been exposed to enough sun to make your recommended daily intake of vitamin D, based on a combination of your skin type and the amount of skin that is exposed to the sun.

You can also now get sunburn and vitamin D estimates for any time of day just by long pressing on the forecast chart, making it easier to plan your day.

Look and feel

The new version of Sunbeam also comes with lots of small enhancements to the look and feel of the app that together add up to deliver a more elegant, consistent user experience. This includes a complete refresh of the ‘My Places’ screen to give you hourly and daily forecasts for all of your favorite places at a glance, as well as better animations throughout the app.

New widgets and complications

The latest release brings two new widgets and complications:

  • iPhone widget: Sunbeam now includes a large Home Screen Widget to give you the current UV Index, sunburn and vitamin D estimates, and hourly or daily forecasts for your current location or any of your favorite places.
  • Apple Watch complication: A new graphic rectangular complication for Apple Watch that brings hourly and daily UV forecasts for your current location right to your watch face.

A word on pricing

I’ve taken the decision to increase the price of a Sunbeam Pro subscription from $2.99 to $4.99 per year for new subscribers, starting Monday April 19th. To be really clear, If you’re already subscribed to Sunbeam Pro this doesn’t affect you at all and your existing rate is locked in for as long as you remain a subscriber.

If you’re new to Sunbeam then I hope you’ll think the new price is fair – and of course if you don’t need any of the Pro features you can continue to use the free version of Sunbeam at absolutely no cost.

In any case, I wanted to explain why I’m making this change here so that it’s clear and transparent to all:

  • Cost increases: Sunbeam’s current source of weather data – Dark Sky – is due to shut down at the end of this year, which means I’m going to need to move to a new provider over the summer. Unfortunately most weather data providers are significantly more expensive than DarkSky, which means my costs are likely to rise over the coming months. Raising prices for new subscribers now lets me get ahead of the game and focus on improving the app over the coming months.
  • Competitor pricing: $4.99/year (which works out to $0.42/month) is still significantly cheaper than most iOS weather apps, with many apps charging upwards of $20/year. I get that most people don’t use an app like Sunbeam all year round, so charging about a quarter of what other weather apps cost felt about right.
  • Respect for your privacy: Sunbeam doesn’t contain any ads, track you across the internet or attempt to sell your location to third parties. In fact, I’ve made a conscious effort from day 1 to make sure that Sunbeam collects as little data about you as possible – it’s just the right thing to do. That means Sunbeam lacks the revenue streams of some competitors that do monetize your data in this way, and so charging a small premium for Sunbeam Pro felt like the right trade-off.
  • Growing the app: A small increase in the price of a Pro subscription also makes it much easier for me to start marketing the app more actively through App Store Search Ads to grow my user base. Over time, the more people use and subscribe to Sunbeam, the more time I can invest in the app to make it as good as it can be.

I hope you enjoy the new update!