This CARROT doesn’t taste right

The dividing lines between good and bad taste, and the unpardonably bad, are not always clear cut. Much of what happens in games is viewed in a fictional world, where gore and twisted values seem almost mandatory. But in a weather app?

CARROT Weather recently launched on the Mac App Store, claimed to be “an eerily accurate weather app that delivers hilariously twisted forecasts. There are secret locations to unlock. A time machine. And also evil penguins.”

The first screenshot, though, invites you to “Meet CARROT, the weather robot with a personality” and a voice.

Some early users quickly discovered that this “personality” is not, perhaps, the sort that you would like on your Mac. Enter its “Time Machine” for 6th August 1888 in Whitechapel, UK, and you will discover it gleefully labelled “The Ripper’s First Killsite”, and this robot “with a personality” tells you “If you haven’t guessed, I am a big fan of Jack the Ripper’s work.”

When tackled over this on Facebook, developer Grailr LLC promised to remove this in the next update.

The App Store rates the app “12+” as it contains:
“Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes
Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor”
I wonder who in Apple checked this app out and awarded it a “12+” rating and decided that these remarks about Jack the Ripper met those criteria.

It also appears to have enjoyed rave reviews, and is Editor’s Choice and number 1 Top Paid App.

Jack the Ripper, in case you have forgotten, was an unidentified serial murderer who was probably responsible for the murder and mutilation of at least five women in the East End of London in 1888. In each case, the woman’s throat was cut, and her abdomen was opened. In four cases, various body organs were also removed. In a London accustomed at the time to the gruesome and carnal, these murders were shocking.

Although a very long time ago, and the subject of many books and other speculative accounts, these were not fictional events, but real women who were killed. Anyone today claiming to be a “big fan of Jack the Ripper’s work” has at the very least a serious personality disorder. This is not something that any non-fictional app should ever engage in, should it?

CARROT Weather’s forecasts are, apparently, based on forecast.io, which is also the basis for Dark Sky (iOS). I reviewed its forecast reliability here, continue to keep a watch on it, and remain unimpressed: it is no more or less accurate than a localised free forecast, such as that provided by the BBC with the UK Met Office, in my experience, and considerably less accurate than careful consultation of rainfall radar and other primary data sources. I look forward to Grailr producing evidence to support their claim that CARROT Weather’s forecasts are any more accurate than those of the BBC, for example.

I also find it astonishing that it claims to be able to forecast weather up to ten years in advance, when the UK Met Office is extremely cautious in venturing more than five days into the future.

With my long interest in the weather, particularly weather forecasting apps, I was tempted to buy CARROT Weather and give it a whirl. I now understand that it is not the sort of app that I would ever wish to use. Would you?