Warmly Review

Warmly Review

Jun 21, 2013

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place.

The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app.

It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like.

The nine sound tabs run the gamut. The visual representations cover familair sounds like trains, planes, sporty warmly1sounds, cooking, brewing coffee and even a sound selection for cat and dog lovers. After selecting the time, the sound and the weekly recurrence, the app goes to a quiet, dark screen with time prominent. Such a display befits its role as a specialty background alarm.

Warmly is an alarm app that wants to wake you up gradually, and break the paradigm of blaring sirens that invoke panic and dismay. Instead, Warmly uses one of the selected, hopefully familiar noises in an increasing manner that works to help a user build into wakefulness naturally. Specifically, it plays ambient sound worked in with sounds reflecting the weather. As hinted it, it starts off low and then works up higher and higher over several minutes.

Warmly adds in a few more features that increase its utility; it supports the option to use 24 hour time, which appeals to the overly picky like me. It also has an auto shut-off feature, and the requisite snooze after 9 minutes. I also found it possible to change the unit of measure for temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit.

Much as I like this app, I’d love to see it expand a bit. Maybe the ability to work with the built-in calendar? Or how about the ability to pull in one’s own sound files? Sky is the limit.

I like simple, and I like Warmly a lot. It helps redefine a ubiquitous feature of smartphones, and does that well. Can’t wait to see what else Chaos has up its collective sleeve.

Gentle Alarm

Gentle Alarm

Sep 22, 2010

Gentle Alarm, the top rated paid alarm app in the Android Market, boasts a ton of features and snazzy graphics. It also claims to be able to wake you during light sleep, which lends to its “gentle” moniker. Obviously, I can’t verify this claim in my review—a peer review study would be more suitable for that. I can say, however, that it’s a fabulous alarm app. And while it is indeed “gentle,” its touted special features don’t really live up to the hype.

Since Gentle Alarm has so many features, I’ll give a rundown (pun intended) of what it has to offer.

Main Screen
When you open up Gentle Alarm, you may mistake it for your home screen (I’ve accidently swiped at it); your wallpaper is prominently displayed with the current time and date and the next active alarm. You can tap the next alarm for a context menu that gives you many related options. Up top is a bar with a power button that turns on and off all the alarms, along with four big menu buttons: “Quick Alarm,” “Alarms,” “Profiles,” and “Night Display.”

Setting Alarms
The bulk of the settings in each alarm resides in the Profile section. In this way, you can keep different settings together for different scenarios. I’ve got a profile of alarms that wake me up and alarms for just alerts. For each profile, you have a range of options for sounds, including ringtones, any music file, auto-playlists by genre or artist, M3u playlists, or just vibrate. You can also set the snooze time, fade in, and duration of alarms. The duration is how long the alarm will play before it snoozes automatically–great for lazy folks like me. You can also set the display brightness and even have a “rising sun” effect that fades the screen in with the alarm. If you’re worried about sleeping through, you can set a “safe alarm” that rings (incredibly loud) after your first alarm if you don’t hit snooze. For a feature lover like me, this plethora is great. But it can be overwhelming—and the relentless tip screens that pop up everywhere don’t help. If you get annoyed with those, just make sure you hit “don’t show again” and they’ll go away.