KickStarter Spotlight: Hale Dreamer

KickStarter Spotlight: Hale Dreamer

Oct 2, 2013

Proper alarm clocks are almost unheard of anymore in this modern age of smartphones. Why invest money into something that is rarely looked at and is fundamentally inferior to a device that already sits atop the bedside table at night. Alarm clock docs are everywhere these days and they all are relatively the same; the smartphone sits in the middle and directs it’s sound out to the speakers and time is shown on a large LED clock. But with the abundance of quality alarm clock apps that turn any smartphone into a fully functional alarm clock face and device diversification there is a need for something more or maybe less. Introducing the Hale Dreamer, a clever smartphone dock that solves a lot of the problems of regular clocks and, using a gorgeous looking companion “Dreamer” app, becomes the smartphone/alarm clock lovechild we have been dreaming of.

A project by Chicago-native Joe Born, the Hale Dreamer looks essentially like a large speaker with a giant snooze button. Fortunately, there is much more to this project, and much of that stems off the app that goes with the device. The claim is that the Hale Dreamer actually improves nightly sleep because of it’s ability to filter notifications and texts and discern which are actually important enough to go through and wake up the user. Whenever someone calls during the night they receive a text message that informs them to reply ‘E’ if this situation is an emergency, and if they do their next call will ring and awaken the user.

This feature is a part of the very attractive “Dreamer” app which is easily the biggest draw here aside from the actual dock itself. The multiple display settings all look polished, and the app does everything including lulling the user to sleep via pre-programmed sounds and providing a gradual awakening through fade-in alarms. This is all displayed on the dock that sits atop the device and has two hefty, yet flexible cables that attach to the headphone jack and charging port. This ensures device compatibility for nearly all Android phones without messy adapters or inserts.

So, weather it is the well crafted app, the SmartSilence technology, or the physical snooze button and dock the Hale Dreamer is a KickStarter project that is worth checking out. Maybe someday this little device and its powerful speaker will jolt me out of a satisfying night’s sleep.

Theme Thursday: Text Clock Pro

Theme Thursday: Text Clock Pro

Jul 5, 2012

I wasn’t initially planning on doing another Theme Thursday on a live wallpaper but Text Clock Pro really caught my eye and I knew I had to spread the word. Designers Biegert and Funk brought the world the beauty and simplicity of the cleverly designed QlockTwo. In short, this clock is a square field of seemingly random unlit letters that light up to tell the time in 5 minute increments. For example, if the time is 5:46, the clock would read “It is a quarter til 6 o’clock.” The big draw for the QlockTwo is the sleek, minimal, and, dare I say, sexy design as the jet black glossy square face with the thin, bright white san-seriff text creating an amazing contrast. Well, with a design that is so simple to replicate it was only a matter of time before this amazingly popular design made it to Android in some form, and Text Clock Pro does not disappoint.

It would have been almost too easy for someone to just quickly code up a widget that quickly replicates its real life counterpart. However, what Text Clock Pro does is takes the idea of the clock and allows for expanded user customization as well as making it a live wallpaper. I am torn about whether or not the idea to make Text Clock Pro a live wallpaper is a brilliant idea or a limiting one, but I have to say I find that it looks stunning even as it slides behind existing widgets. And it does look stunning, everything about this wallpaper is beautiful, including all the included fonts to choose from. For Pro customers there is the option to change the ratio from the original square configuration to a smaller 15×8 rectangle. Is it worth the buck to upgrade from Lite to Pro? That entirely depends on the user and I cannot say that the Pro version is necessarily a bad deal, because, come on, it’s a buck.

The biggest selling point to this app is its simplicity and its perfect customization options that allow any user to tailor the wallpaper to suit their liking. Looking at the app’s Play page the examples are gorgeous and the possibilities are sky high. At the very least, a must try for any Android owner, Text Clock Pro brings any phone one step closer to phone perfection.

Alarm Clock by doubleTwist App Review

Alarm Clock by doubleTwist App Review

Apr 6, 2012

Being a college student, getting a good nights sleep is very important yet very rarely accomplished. Due to all the late nights toiling away at one’s studies, having good alarm is essential, and a little flair wouldn’t hurt. Enter: doubleTwist. Now I’ve reviewed apps by doubleTwist before, notably their flagship music player, but an alarm clock app took me by surprise. After looking through the app for a while, however, it started to make sense. One of doubleTwist’s strongest assists is its striking and elegant visual style and their music management system. This beautiful app bears doubleTwist’s signature dark styling, and when selecting a playlist or song to use as an alarm the doubleTwist Player has to be installed. Some may question the decision to make such a large aspect of the app proprietary, but this move represents a bold step foreword for doubleTwist. By establishing a suite of apps that all feed off of the same ecosystem, they are attempting to form what Apple and Sony have been doing with home entertainment for decades.

The app itself is, as previously stated, gorgeous. The landscape analog and digital clocks are sublimely detailed, especially the analog one which includes an array of gears behind the elegantly ornate centerpiece. For phones with a kickstand like my EVO 4G this app would work beautifully as a bedside clock because of the included night modes of each clock which dim the screen brightness and change the colors from whites and oranges to calming blues and blacks. The one problem with this is that there is no in-app option to turn off the screen timeout so this must be done remotely. I did not find this to be much of a problem seeing as it is an option on a switch widget on my home screen, but an included option would have been nice.

As an alarm clock this app works just as well if not better then the stock Android clock application. Built in is a sleep cycle calculator which for those who don’t know, suggests time to either fall asleep or wake up based on the fact that the best time to wake up is between sleep cycles. Websites like do this but having this feature baked into an app is a giant plus because it does work and I utilize it almost every night.

With great integration with their Player and standout visual appeal, DoubleTwist has put together an amazing free app that is worth downloading even for those not privy to the doubleTwist ecosystem.

Theme Thursday: Touch for GO Launcher

Theme Thursday: Touch for GO Launcher

Feb 16, 2012

I’ve always been a sucker for clean, minimalist user interfaces. For me, a phone home screen should be something that can be shown off even if that might mean a subtle loss of convenience. For a while now my main home tile has been completely devoid of the usual assortment of widgets, containing instead purely aesthetic widgets that add a small layer of class onto an otherwise pragmatic piece of tech. In this week’s Theme Thursday I’m going to look at not just a basic theme, but two more additional widgets that can bestow incredible power in making a launcher its own small piece of art.

First and foremost is the GO Launcher theme called “Touch.” This is probably the weakest part of my home page right now as the custom icons are not spectacular and the great background could probably just be found on Google Images. Small touches are nice, such as a simple, white app drawer, but I would not declare this two dollar theme a great value. Touch puts a white border around every app on the home screen which does go a way to delivering some great continuity, but it would be nice to at least have the option to disable this feature. For those using GO Locker there is also a free locker theme that works well and goes a long way to tie everything together.

Two great widgets that really break the mold from the classic HTC Sense UI-style of plastic looking 3-D widgets are Minimalistic Text and BobClockD3. BobClockD3 is a clock app that displays the time vertically with flat san-serifed text. While the customization options are thin, there is ample room for creativity. For those looking for a simple way to give their phone a facelift I would highly recommend checking out BobClockD3, and it being free removes pretty much any argument against it.

In total contrast is Minimalistic Text, playing a legitimate “Linux” to BobClockD3’s “Windows” this app gives total control over text display on the home screen. There is a myriad of display options here, ranging from time as text, to battery percentage, and even RAM usage. After some practice of the initially confusing workspace it becomes easy and fun to add text to the home screen and give it the truly modern look that it has been lacking.

So give it a shot, regain aesthetic control of the cellular domain and create a modern minimalist masterpiece that will turn heads and draw compliments.

Theme Thursday – BlackGold

Theme Thursday – BlackGold

May 12, 2011

I’m of the mindset that you have to be careful about adding gold accents to things. You can go from classy to trashy if it’s not done right. That said, I think this week’s theme sits somewhere comfortably in-between.

This week, I’m looking at BlackGold from ADDesigns, a theme for ADW Launcher.

ADW Launcher is a highly-customizable home replacement for your Android device. You can customize everything from the wallpaper to the icons. You can even customize the dock and app drawer to work in a variety of ways that take it beyond your stock phone settings. BlackGold is a theme for ADW Launcher that will instantly customize most of those features.

There’s something very solid and sleek about BlackGold. The gold accents in the black icons, plus the general shape and sharp lines make it look very precise. It almost reminds me of a wrist watch that has just enough of a stylish flair to take it beyond a mere timepiece.

When you consider that, most of the time, the only reason people pull out their phones is to see what time it is, you begin to feel that the cell phone is the modern day equivalent of the pocket watch. Therefore, I would assume it only makes sense to have a theme that suggests the more luxurious side or your Android phone. After all, smartphones don’t exactly come cheap.

BlackGold costs US$1.49 on the Android Market and comes with more than 250 custom icons, an additional 170+ icons in an icon pack for use with ADW’s custom shortcuts and 6 wallpapers to match the theme.

If last week’s theme, Tha Shag, was too rustic and retro for you, see if BlackGold isn’t more inline with your chic fashion sense.

Note: The clock widget featured in the screen shots is called SiMi, available in the Android Market.