[App Fridays] In a pollution emergency, Air Matters will alert you on changing AQI levels and connect with your air purifier
Every year after the Diwali season, Indians find their timelines inundated with news and images of the infamous ‘Delhi smog’ and the hazardous AQI (Air Quality Index) levels in the region. (This year, in fact, a public health emergency had been declared leading to a temporary shutdown of schools and colleges in Delhi.)
In times of this pollution emergency, AQI has become a household term.
More so, if you reside in North India, which (tragically) is home to some of the world’s most polluted cities.
Most users in Delhi-NCR regularly track AQI levels, check forecasts before stepping out, and engage in conversations around the deteriorating air quality on social media.
Thanks to technology, there are various tools and apps that make this tracking easy.
Air Matters is one such app that provides hourly, daily, and weekly pollution alerts, letting users monitor AQI, different types of allergens in the air and other weather metrics (temperature, wind speed, moisture levels, etc).
Not just for Indians, but Air Matters (which originated in China - a country battling air pollution as much as India) is available to millions of users across the globe.
The app captures real-time data from more than 11,000 air monitoring stations around the world, and broadcasts air quality information from 3,000 cities across 50 countries. Based on their geo-location, every user gets information from the nearest monitoring station.
Interestingly, Air Matters also captures indoor air quality data by connecting wirelessly with your smart air purifier. It displays insights, shows air filter status, and offers advice on how to manage exposure to allergens. Once connected, you can even control the air purifier remotely through the app.
Air Matters has recorded over 100,000 downloads on Google Play Store, and is rated 3.1 out of 5. On iOS, however, the app enjoys a higher rating of 4.6. Reports indicate that it has more than 10 million users globally.
The app is ad-supported. You can upgrade to an Air Matters Premium subscription at a yearly price of Rs 60. It also allows you to restore a purchase while switching devices.
Let’s explore the app.
Air Matters requires access to your device location.
Choose your continent and country in the next few screens. When you click on India, the app displays the average AQI levels of all states.
The labels are colour-coded on a spectrum of green to red, indicating ‘good’ to ‘hazardous’ air quality.
Select a state to see the average AQI levels of all its districts. You can tap on the name of districts, and then on an area/locality to get micro-level data.
For every location, Air Matters displays data on six types of pollutants: particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and pollen.
It also offers health advice and allows users to track historical data. You can also scroll through a real-time map to monitor AQI.
There are weekly weather and air quality forecasts available too.
Return to the homepage to ‘Add Place’. You can track AQI and receive forecasts for international cities cities too.
The homepage also displays an option to connect to your smart room air purifier. (The app can be connected to a car air purifier as well.)
You can browse through global Air Quality Rankings on the sidebar.
Lastly, in Settings, choose what data to display and alerts to receive, sync your social media accounts, and also switch to the app’s premium version.
Excellent, credible app; can even save lives
Air Matters can be a life-saving app for pollen-sensitive people and asthma patients.
User reviews will confirm this.
An iOS user wrote on App Store,
“I rely on this app to know if I can go outside. I have severe, uncontrollable asthma and without this, I would be nearly hopeless.”
An Android user wrote on Play Store, “Very informative and a must for anyone with asthma or hay fever/allergies or simply for anyone who cares about the air they breathe”.
The best part about Air Matters is that you can rely on its data because it is sourced from credible environmental organisations like Greenpeace and Pollen.com.
In India, the data is sourced from the Central Pollution Control Board, which is governed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
Also, not many air monitoring apps out there can track AQI levels beyond 999 (almost poisonous). Last week, Noida’s AQI level touched 1,092. Most apps would be rendered ineffective in such a scenario.
Its granular data insights aside, Air Matters is also a clean and highly intuitive app, and easily understandable to even a layman. So, you don’t need to be a climate expert to gauge what’s happening around you.
There are a few cons too.
Some iOS users have reported crashes on the Apple Watch and the iPhone X, but that is nothing that the next app update cannot fix.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)