Though the iPhone comes with a clock app out of the box, this hasn’t fazed developers one little bit from trying to provide a better alternative (a search of the App Store here on AppShopper for “clock” yields over 1,000 results). On its face (see what I did there?), making a clock app unique seems kind of difficult – how many different ways are there to tell the time and set an alarm to wake you up? But there are a few clock apps that have stood out from the crowd recently.
First up is a new release from AppAnnex, Tap Alarm Clock. It offers a clean, simple interface with one of the easiest-to-use alarm setting mechanisms I’ve seen. To set the alarm, you spin a virtual dial reminiscent of an iPod click wheel to select the desired time. Tapping and holding at a specific clock position on the virtual dial will automatically set the alarm for that hour.
Here’s a demo video showing it in action:
Tap Alarm Clock lacks the ability to set multiple alarms or change the alarm sound but it works very well if your alarm needs are straightforward and you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.
Siri on the iPhone 4S seems to have prompted even more interest in apps that recognize speech and talk back to you and alarm clocks are no exception. Crop Duster Media released Wake Smarter late last year and it offers a plethora of alarm features plus the ability to read nearly anything to you when you wake up. You can choose to hear RSS feed updates, upcoming events on your calendar, posts from your Twitter and Facebook feeds, the weather forecast, and more.
Wake Smarter can also listen for your “magic word” (like Studio Heat’s Kei, which debuted in early 2010) and respond to a list of preset commands to tell you the current time and date, your upcoming calendar appointments, set an alarm, and more, a handy feature if your iPhone or iPad isn’t within easy reach.
Last but not least is Silent Clock, an unusual yet innovative clock by developer 10-sor that will tell you the time without requiring you to even look at your iPhone, a useful function in situations when picking up your iPhone and looking at the screen is inappropriate, such as in meetings or at a movie theater. How does it do this, you ask? By using the iPhone’s vibrate motor and a Morse-code like, um, code. The code looks a little confusing at first but it makes sense once you feel it in action.
The app automatically makes your iPhone vibrate every quarter of an hour in a two-step sequence. The first step in the sequence denotes the hour and the second denotes the minutes (on the hour and at 15, 30, and 45 minutes after). So, 1:45 pm will be denoted with a single vibration followed by three more vibrations in a row.
The code still requires you to have a general sense of the time of day since the codes are the same for some hours of the day to avoid being too complex. To use Silent Clock, you need to open the app and leave it open without locking your iPhone and then place it in a pocket so you can feel the vibrations.