Air pollution and AQI are topics that I have covered quite extensively on this blog already.
However, I realised that I missed a fundamental aspect when discussing these topics thus far.
While it’s all well and good to talk about AQI, the meanings and health effects behind it, and air pollution as a whole, how can we actually monitor these variables?
In today’s post, I want to cover this very important element in understanding air pollution. That is, where can we find data on the complex elements of air pollution in an easy to understand and clear format?
Today I am going to look into some of the most popular AQI apps and websites out there and compare them to find which one is best.
These platforms won’t be included here, as they are confined to specific areas. Rather, in this article, I will only be looking at apps that either cover every country, or a large range of countries.
If you notice anything missing from the list that you believe should be included, please comment on this post to let me know.
This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please refer to my affiliate disclaimer.
Best AQI Apps Overall
I will go into depth on each app later in the article, however, this is the section if you are looking for quick answers!
The best apps for checking AQI are as follows:
- Air Matters. This app provides one of the most comprehensive AQI readings in a modern and useful UI.
- AirLief. An app that provides personalised AQI recommendations based on your health.
- Plume Labs. A very easy to understand AQI reading that provides all of the essential data.
- IQ Air Visual. My go-to app as it has no advertisements and all of the essential data in a clean look.
- Air Quality Live. Although not the most detailed app, this is the easiest to understand and provides a great overview of the current AQI.
There is definitely somewhat of a balance when it comes to AQI apps and you can either opt for more details or a cleaner, easier to use application. Personally, I found Air Matters to have the best balance between these two elements.
This list below is in no particular order and any app on the list will serve you well. Rather, it’s just meant as a guideline for anyone looking for the best AQI apps!
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1. IQAir AirVisual
My go-to app for checking the air quality is the IQAir AirVisual app. This app has all of the air quality data that you could want and visualises this data in an easily understandable way.
I appreciate the fact that IQAir has both an app and a website view, as this allows for easy viewing of the AQI no matter what device you are using.
The website also allows access to a wide variety of resources. From a live world map to updated articles on the world’s pollution issue, there is a lot to explore.
Within the app, values for all major pollutants are shown. This means that you can find PM2.5 and PM10 values along with the levels of certain dangerous gases in the air.
The app also allows for you to save locations, giving you quick and easy access for checking the locations that matter to you.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of this (free) app, is the total lack of ads. Since IQAir sell their own products, they have no need to show advertisements within the app. There is a store tab, but other than this the app is totally ad-free!
IQAir also makes some of their own air pollution products such as indoor air quality monitors. If you happen to have one of them, using the IQAir platform makes even more sense!
If you are looking for an easy to understand app that doesn’t lack information then this is a fantastic choice. For more detailed data, the website gives an even better overview of the pollution situation in nearly every region of the world.
The next app on this list is another very popular one and that is AirMatters. AirMatters provides a very powerful app that allows for easy, and very visual tracking of the AQI.
AirMatters has many of the same basics as IQAir. It allows checking of the overall AQI as well as providing a deeper dive into the specifics that make up that AQI.
What I appreciate the most about AirMatters is how it translates these complex readings into advice and readings that are easily digestible. For example, there is a whole section dedicated to advice for health, which lets you know if a mask or air purifier is necessary.
There are also two more small benefits to the app that I for one am very happy with. The first is integration with Siri (on iPhone). I am sure Android also has an alternative.
This is very convenient as there are often times when it is easier to ask than look. The second big benefit that I appreciate is how AirMatters provides integration for some air purifiers and monitors.
Depending on the amount of data provided for where you live, it may also be possible to check allergy-related factors within AirMatters. For example, birch, pollen, grass, mugwort, and ragweed levels are just some that are monitored in certain areas.
AirMatters does have some advertisements but they are very limited and non-obtrusive. This is by far one of the most detailed apps but it can feel overwhelming.
3. Plume Labs
This has the benefit of meaning that the app has no advertisements except for some promotions of their own products.
The first thing that sticks out to me with the Plume Labs app is the simplicity. This app instantly stood out to me as being the cleanest and easiest to use due to its modern UI.
While the simplicity may lead you to believe that the app lacks in data and functionality, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Although some apps provide more details, Plume Labs does not lack.
It provides information on all of the major pollutants, as well as graphs showing their history and forecast. It also advises for or against certain outdoor activities depending on the air quality.
Right at the bottom, the app also provides data on the best and worst days of the year in regards to AQI as well as the yearly average.
If you happen to have a Plume Labs air quality monitor then is the app that you will want to be using. Anybody who uses one of their sensors can help contribute to the map data!
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4. Check Air Quality
The fourth app on this list is named simply ‘Check Air Quality’. This app is perhaps the most simple on the list, and there will be people who appreciate the simplicity.
This app is free, however, it does have advertisements. The advertisements weren’t obtrusive during my use, and they are definitely manageable. However, they can be removed for $9.99.
After choosing a location (or letting it choose for you). You will be met with a very simple screen that reads the overall AQI and provides a short but detailed description on what that AQI indicates.
It is possible to view other pollutant levels such as the ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, etc. These readings are hidden under a little i symbol in the top right corner.
On the next tab it is possible to add air quality monitoring stations for any area that you are particularly interested in keeping and eye on. The third tab provides a map of the world where monitoring stations can be selected individually.
Both of these functionalities are quite standard across air quality apps, and for that reason, I would recommend Check Air Quality only for those wanting the easiest and quickest way to check the air quality.
Download App: IOS
The next app on this list is another very popular one and one that is often mentioned. That is, Breezometer.
Breezometer is deceptively simple, and its modern UI will appeal to many. Breezometer doesn’t use graphs as many of the other apps do, and rather relies on conveying information through different visual elements.
As someone who prefers to see the data in a graph format, this app is not for me. However, it will definitely appeal to some people and it’s modern feel is very attractive.
On the home screen a simple AQI reading is provided. This is the overall air quality and is all most people will be looking for.
If you want to go deeper though, you can. Selecting the air quality button will take you to a screen where a screen shows exactly what you are breathing right now.
This screen includes PM10, PM2.5, CO, NO2, SO2, and O3, and is very handy. However, it doesn’t show the forecast or history of these pollutants.
Data on pollen and the overall temperature is shown. This is again very useful if you have allergies.
The final screen shows ‘my exposure’ and shows the exact level of the AQI that you have spent the day in. This is very useful for finding out how to minimise the air pollution that you are exposed to.
The Breezometer app does have advertisements. However, as with the other apps mentioned here, these ads are not obtrusive and can easily be overlooked.
6. Air Quality Live
Next up on this list is Air Quality Live, an app which has another method for presenting the AQI in an easily understandable format.
Air Quality Live has my favourite layout out of all of the AQI apps. This is because it has a easily understandable design that is intuitive and functional.
Although the app looks very simple, it provides all of the information that most people seek. While you won’t find further information on the AQI forecast, the allergen levels, or be able to add your own air quality monitors, you can find everything that you need regarding the current AQI.
Once you select a location you will be met by a screen that shows the level of the five most common pollutants.
On top of this, there will also be a small panel at the bottom which provides health advice for outdoor activities. This health advice covers whether or not a mask is necessary, as well as whether or not windows should be closed.
Air Quality Live doesn’t provide the same detail that some other apps on this list do. However, it does provide the most important information for the current AQI situation, and it allows for easy access.
Download App: IOS
7. Air Quality Tracker: Pollution
The next app on this list is Air Quality Tracker: Pollution. Although the free version of this app lacks in regards to details, it does provide a nice visual overview of the current situation.
Air Quality Tracker gives an overall picture of the current air quality situation by providing information on the different pollutants in the form of coloured circles.
The colour of each circle represents the level of danger, and this is perhaps one of the most appealing visual layouts that I have seen from all of the AQI apps.
The biggest downsides to this app are the limited information (there really isn’t much past the single visual layout) and the obtrusive advertisements.
The app had a constant reminder to upgrade to premium and it also has fullscreen ads which often interrupt the user experience.
I would only recommend this app for checking the AQI if the layout particularly appeals to you.
Download App: IOS
8. Air Quality: Real time AQI
Air Quality: Real Time AQI is an Android only app that was my most used AQI app before moving to IOS a few years ago.
This is one of the more information-packed apps and that can make it feel a bit overwhelming at times. However, on the other hand, this means that the app is extremely detailed and provides a massive variety of data and history in the form of graphs.
Although I appreciate having all of the graphs as well as the historical data, this app is far from user friendly. It can, at times, have difficulty finding your location and the search function isn’t as good as it should be.
The app provides some simple, yet useful widgets that can be placed on your home screen and this is a great alternative for checking the AQI without actually having to open the app itself.
While Air Quality: Real Time AQI is a fantastic choice for those who want the data displayed as graphs, it is far from the most user-friendly app here. As such, it’s appeal is quite niche.
Download App: Android
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Airlief is an app which provides some unique benefits to the others on this list. While it does provide the AQI rating along with readings for specific pollutants, there is one particular benefit that places it above the other apps.
AirLief is the only app on this list which can be personalized. It’s important to remember that air pollution impacts everyone differently – there is no universal reading which is ‘safe’. For those of us who suffer from respiratory or cardiovascular issues, air pollution often has stronger effects.
AirLief accounts for this. If you are willing to answer a few questions (what is your age, do you smoke, do you have any of these conditions), you can get personalized recommendations according to the AQI.
There is no need to provide sensitive information such as name, or even your email. Further, it’s possible to use the app without providing this information. However, the biggest benefit of the app is this unique approach that it takes.
Once you provide this information the app provides specific information – for example, right now it’s telling me to reduce outdoor activities and ventilation. However, I don’t need a mask or air purifier.
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10. Air Quality Index – Fresh Air
The last app on this list is an extremely simple one that goes by the name of Air Quality Index – Fresh Air. This app is available only on Android, and it is by far the most simple out of all of the apps listed here.
Upon opening Air Quality Index – Fresh Air, you will be met with a screen that states the air quality, location, and date. This is almost all that there is to the app!
There is a second tab in which different locations can be added if you would like to monitor more than one area. Opening these tabs will allow you to see a short description of the air quality and a comparison of the China and U.S AQI.
If you are looking for the most simple way to view the current air quality index, then this app is for you!
Download App: Android
Conclusion – Best Apps for Checking AQI
There are many apps that I chose not to include on this list due to them either being too limited in terms of functionality, buggy or providing limited data (such as only working in a specific country).
However, there are sure to be some apps that I missed. If you feel like something should be included on this list please feel free to let me know – if the app is good, I will be sure to add it to the list!
I also used IOS to test most of these apps. Although the apps should function very similar across platforms, it is possible that there will be some differences (such as advertisements) across the platforms.
What is your favourite app to check the AQI?