Axel Rivera picked up a new, socially distant hobby and activity in 2020: he started cycling.
As a programmer, it was only natural he considered how he could make his experience simpler.
“Whenever I get a new hobby, my brain starts to work and I look for potential opportunities,” he said, noting that before he started cycling, he never really looked at weather apps. “I started to ask questions to my cycling friends and read posts on Facebook groups and decided that a weather app for athletes was worth my effort.”
The result is Apollo Weather, a fully customizable iOS weather app. It is meant to provide information to cyclists, runners and other active outdoor people.
Rivera has experience as an app developer.
He was the man behind Banco Popular’s mobile app, which he built while working for an app development company in his native Puerto Rico.
In addition, he built several functionalities for apps used by the Puerto Rican government.
He said one of the coolest things he experienced was seeing a huge billboard for the Banco Popular app while driving in Puerto Rico.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I did that!’” he said. “It was a fantastic feeling.”
When Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in 2017, Rivera relocated to Orlando. He brought more than 10 years of experience in app building along with him.
“As a developer, I believe 100 percent in ‘eating your own dog food,’” he said. “I only develop apps that I plan to use myself, outside of contract work. That’s the only way I can motivate myself to work nights and weekends on a project.”
Rivera considers Apollo Weather ideal for athletes and outdoor activity enthusiasts.
The forecasts earn a rating based upon a user’s ideal conditions.
The hourly ratings appear within a typical 10-day forecast so users can identify the best times to train outside.
Rivera plans to add features like route analysis, which will offer weather conditions that follows along a cyclist’s route at their expected arrival time.
“Once I started cycling, my needs changed,” said Rivera, who averages between 90 and 100 miles a week. “I had set my goal to 75 miles per week. I had to make sure I reached it, no matter what. But Florida weather is unpredictable.”
That was the idea behind Apollo Weather.
As he continues to work on contracts alongside his own mobile applications, Rivera had advice for those who are either just starting out or want to move toward publishing their own apps.
“It’s OK to do the online courses and tutorials, but you have to start a project at some point,” he said. “If you keep jumping from one tutorial to another, you’re just reading the same stuff repeatedly. Nothing beats hands-on experience.”