Version Reviewed: 1.0
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Alarm clocks are possibly one of the best inventions ever, because otherwise I'd never make it anywhere on time. And yet...the actual process of waking up is usually jarring, even if you've had a full night's rest. There's actually significant scientific research surrounding the study of sleep, which has led to previous apps like the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock.
The Gentle Alarm is another app with a supposed scientific background. Developed by German neurologist Dr. Hans Joerg Stuerenburg (M.D., Ph.D.), The Gentle Alarm "learns" your sleep patterns and adjusts to your needs. The app eases you from the deep sleep phase or dream phase into your light sleep phase, so that you feel more rested upon waking.
Using the app is extremely easy. Unlike other apps, The Gentle Alarm just requires you to set a time for the alarm. When you wake up, you slide your finger across the screen to turn the alarm off. It's that simple—no agitation sensing, no accelerometer use, so you don't have to stick your iPhone in your bed. The app wakes you up using a series of gentle chimes.
The Gentle Alarm's approach is patented, and I think it does actually work, at least to some degree; I woke up each morning feeling significantly less groggy than usual over the week or so of testing I did. Well, let me paraphrase that: I felt more rested when the app woke me up. Unfortunately, the app is a battery hog; leaving it running sometimes killed my iPhone's battery overnight. (If I left it in my iHome, on the other hand, sometimes the alarm wouldn't go off.) Additionally, on some days The Gentle Alarm's approach was too gentle; I'd sleep through it, even with the volume all the way up, only to have my roommate wake me up later. (Granted, I have a fan running next to my bed...but still, the volume is far too low.)
It's a shame, because I think The Gentle Alarm has real potential. However, its unreliability (battery drain, too quiet) make me reluctant to use it without a back-up alarm from my cell phone, which kind of defeats the point. Is the science sound? I think so. The developers just need to work on the implementation.