Version Reviewed: 1.0.1 (iPhone OS 3.0 Tested)
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound [rating:3.5/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:3/5]
User Interface [rating:4.5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:4/5]
If you know me well, or you happen to follow me on Twitter, you'll probably know that I'm more of your night person, rather than your get up at the crack-of-dawn kinda person. Okay I admit it, sometimes I even find it hard to get out of bed at all. Naturally, anyone who has this "condition" needs to be physically woken up by something. Whether it be by way of a person screaming down their ears, a certain someone banging the hell out of metal based objects above their head, or simply - an alarm clock.
We all know that the alarm clock which comes out of box with the iPhone is far from perfect. In fact, in my previous use of the thing, I don't think I can safely say it's woken me up successfully - once yet. When I came to download Alarm Clock Pro earlier this week, my thoughts were the usual; Okay it's an app which is in the Top 10 iTunes Chart, I reckon it's going to be well-marketed, but with no real substance. - How wrong I was. It's an app which is specifically designed to be used in conjunction with the iPhone dock, although if you're just looking to leave it lying around, it also supports landscape mode.
So, What features separates this from the built in alarm clock? Well, opening the app you'll be greeted with a clean looking digital digit display. Here you'll see the current time shown in 24-hour format, along with a flashing 'seconds' display and the current day of the week. Just stopping here for a second, this clean modern-looking UI is really Alarm Clock Pro's selling point. It's not unique. It's been done before, but somehow the implementation and feature set sets it apart. Although the main purpose of Alarm Clock Pro to be an alarm clock, naturally I found the app also doubled for a great looking desk clock while docked, too.
Moving away from the app's UI though, what you probably really want to know from me is; How it's going to wake me up, with what sound(s), and how well, right? Well, there are a couple of different options and settings for the app which will likely further enhance your 'getting up' experience - if there actually is such a thing. To enter Alarm Clock Pro settings panel simply tap the 'i' info button in the bottom right. Doing so will result in the whole UI flipping over to reveal further alarm tweaks. Starting at the top the first section is all about the 'alarm' and it's frequency. Tapping add alarm will bring up the 'Add Alarm' panel. From here you can enable the alarm, set an exact time you'd wish for it to go off, choose the day(s) you wish to include (or exclude), name your alarm, choose your alarm's sound and choose if you want he app to offer a 'Snooze' option. As you get to choosing a sound for your alarm, you have a few choices. Firstly, the app comes with 7 presets. These include: Classic, Cuckoo, Digital, Electronic, High Tone, Old Clock and School Bell. but as well as this you'll also see a 'Music' option. Yep, Alarm Clock Pro also supports waking-up to your own iPod music. In fact, you can choose multiple songs from your library and create a wake-up playlist! - This was a feature I really found great, but it gets better. When your alarm sounds, two buttons flip down over your clock. One from the top, the second from the bottom. Press the top for 'Stop Alarm' and the bottom to 'Snooze' the alarm. Snooze is used for when you want 10 more minutes in bed. As you've probably guessed, I tend to use the Snooze feature, a lot.
The second section of the settings panel focuses on the app's gestures. Alarm Clock Pro uses two gesture based actions to preform additional functionality. These include a two finger slide to adjusting your clocks screen brightness, and shaking your device to reveal a hidden 'flashlight'. See .. flashlights by themselves are useless. They're the demise of the App Store. But, put them in an 'Alarm Clock' app, and they actually .. (kinda admittedly), do become useful.
The last section of the settings panel sees various miscellaneous options for the clocks display. With options to change the colour of the clock's display to either Cyan, Green, Orange, Pink or Red, show the seconds counter, show the weekday, turn 24-hour time format on or off, and lastly and probably most importantly choose the interval in which your device will 'Auto-Lock' and return to the iPhone 'Lock Screen'. Alarm Clock Pro in fact supports the alarm sounding when when your device is on the lock screen, as long as the application was open when the device auto-locked itself. That's the caveat with this app. It needs to be open. That said, you'd expect it to have to be, to conform with the iPhone SDK rules and regulations.
Summing up, Alarm Clock Pro is a great addition if you can't seem to drag yourself out of bed like me. With it's inviting UI, full feature-set and gesture based controls (not to mention the added addition of a free flashlight!), you won't go too far wrong with this app. My only caveat really is as I said above, the app actually needs to be open at all times, in order for the alarm to sound. Not ideal, but something which can't be helped unfortunately. That said, it didn't drain the battery that much, having the screen brightness setting set to half. For it's current price, I say to definitely give it a go and see if it's for you ..