SUPER☆GiRLS tell you the time and weather16 April, 2012 by Chad
It’s not so surprising that the project turned out to be a hit and so successful was the concept that bijintokei inc was formed the following year. The site spinned off a Google Widget and evolved into a powerful marketing tool with various product tie ins. Around the same time, the company also caught onto the emerging popularity of smartphones to deliver a mobile and tablet version as applications.
While the first application versions mimicked the website, the developers must had soon realized that having a clock on devices which default boot screen already had one wasn’t the most useful of things. As a result, one newer mobile version of the Japanese Bijin Tokei (the English one has not been updated in years) actually omits the time to show the local weather forecast instead. It has been thus rebranded as Bijin Tenki (美人天気 / Beautiful Girls Weather).
The basic Japanese version Bijin Tenki is available for the iOS and Android platforms for free. The app is instead monetized through bonus content in the form of themed expansions. Recently, iDOL Street has collaborated with bijintokei inc to churn out SUPER☆GiRLS and Cheeky Parade modes. Available for 350 yen each, both versions feature exclusive images of the various members from either group.
Unfortunately, Bijin Tokei has lost most of its charm from its portable shift. For starters, photos no longer load asynchronously. Instead, you choose your place of residence and are given a random series of static pictures depicting the local weather for the next few days. Since this is a Japanese application, only the data for Japan’s prefectures are offered.
A refresh button is offered, but there is little motivation to press it, as doing so will simple reload the application with another random set of photographs.
The original Bijin Tokei boasts an impressive, ever growing collection of photographs with each girl showing one moment in time. It’d be too much of a hassle to retake pictures of the members each day with the updated weather (for every single prefecture), so it only makes sense that the information is added in after taking the pictures.
What puzzles me the most is that while the weather shown certainly needs to be processed in somehow, the developers have opted to do this manually. In Bijin Tenki, the weather data is literally “shopped” onto each photograph (and all its variations) every few days.
It wouldn’t have been difficult to dynamically insert it into the images and would have saved users a lengthy loading time and the need to have a constant internet connection. At first I attributed this as a decision on the developers so that they would be able to constantly serve banner advertisements to their users and to artificially inflate their impressions. But as it turned out, those could be disabled.
Opting to do it dynamically would had also saved the developers a lot of manpower and bandwidth. In this test, I found myself having to wait for 10 seconds to refresh the images and up to 30 seconds just to start up, which makes Bijin Tokei essentially useless as a proper weather/clock application.
Looking past the fact that many of the photos aren’t taken very well to begin with, a final qualm would at be how poor a quality the images served are. Despite the long loading times, the images have not been optimized for retina or high density displays and look bad even at phone size. The same low resolution images are served to tablets and needless to say, look terrible.
At this point I find it very probably that the reason why we don’t see Bijin Tenki on the English application store is due to it being unable to pass Apple of America’s strict publishing checks or the developer’s own technical ineffectiveness. Not recommended.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.