I have a confession. I have an unhealthy obsession with clock apps on my iPhone. Sure the stock Clock application offers basic functionality, but there is a vast array of great options that offer so many more features as well as gorgeous looking clock faces. We’ll look at our favorites, but with App Filter, there can be only one best alarm clock app for iPhone. See which one is used nightly in our C-Dock.
Alarm Clock Pro
Bringing a nice mix of usability and features would be the claim to fame for Alarm Clock Pro. The display is somewhat limiting, only allowing for a choice between 7 options, all of which are LCD. The weather display shows the current conditions along with the high and low for the day. The display looks crisp and support for gestures allows pinpoint accuracy when dimming at night.
Shaking the iPhone will turn the screen white, which is what they bill as their flashlight feature. A small arrow icon at the top reveals access to other iHandy utility apps. If you have their flashlight app on your iPhone, you can access it directly from there. Considering the developer already has a flashlight app, you have to wonder why it’s not properly implemented into the clock app. Shaking the iPhone should turn on the flash.
The alarm clock portion allows you to set an alarm, which will be display the time set on the main screen. This is particularly useful information allowing you to reaffirm the time you’d like to be woken up. Alarms can also be titled, if you need a reminder as to why you’ve set the alarm.
One of the neat features are gadgets. In portrait mode, double-tapping brings up gadgets. One is a slick sleep timer that allows you to select music, see the artwork and then use the slide wheel to set the amount of time. This is really well done, looks great and I love use of gestures. Swiping left reveals a neatly done four day weather forecast.
Night Stand HD
The beauty of Night Stand HD lies in its simplicity. From the icon to the interface, the great design makes you want to use Night Stand. While some apps are busy pushing more and more features, this app focuses on the task of being an easy, good looking alarm clock. Have you ever set an alarm and wondered if you set it correctly? The minimalistic approach to design of Night Stand HD ensures you will not have that problem. It provides all the information you need in a clean, easy-to-read design, even when you are a big groggy. Options are limited to a weather display, which you can disable. There are no RSS, Twitter or Facebook feeds. The settings section of this app are categorized in tabs, making it easy to get around. At the end of the day when I start to fade, I appreciate easy to configure settings.
There are eight clock designs, with my favorites being the retro ‘Classic LCD’ or ‘Flip’ (shown below). Like most alarm clocks, this one also offers LCD, with a slider to customize your preference. The slider moves left to right, limiting your color choices, which is a good thing. No one needs a bazillion color choices and the developers just get it right in their aim to make this feature simple to use. Dimming the display is also simplified. Double-tapping will dim or brighten. The included alarm clock sounds range from birds chirping to screaming, literally. Music from your collection is also an option. The sleep feature is a bit confusing, so much so that I’m surprised it wasn’t covered in the help tab. You have to open up Music, set your artist, song or playlist and then adjust the sleep setting in Night Stand. Once the time expires, the music will stop. I would have liked to have seen this all handled within Night Stand HD.
Alarm Clock HD
Alarm Clock HD brings the social, delivering updates from your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Clicking through shows a webview, but it’s odd in that you’re not logged in, thus you cannot interact from the app. RSS junkies will also enjoy the integration with Google Reader.
I could see these ticker tape updates providing value for those who use their iPhone like a desktop clock. If you have a fair amount of friends and feeds, it would be near impossible not to miss something. It does the trick for glance and go at non-critical information.
Brightness of the display is easily set by pressing on the screen and then moving left or right to adjust. I found the display to be crisp and easily readable in morning and night. The app provides a color picker to select virtually any color to suit your mood. A sleep timer allows you to select music from your collection that will shutoff based upon your settings.
Options for the display include a battery remaining readout, today’s date, seconds and next alarm time. To help reduce screen clutter, a setting to auto-hide features will hide the included flashlight and alarm settings.
Setting alarms is straightforward allowing for options to repeat, volume and custom labels for your alarms. The highlight of the included soundset would be crystal drops, which is soothing way to rise and start the day. Don’t worry, if you’re a sound sleeper, you’ve got plenty of options with the ‘Heavy Alarm Sound’, ‘Smoke Alarm’, ‘Rooster’ or ‘Powerplant Alarm’. Your music is also an option.
This app crams so much into a simple alarm clock. For some, it’s a great value. At times, it felt as if it was too much. Within settings, you can remove any of the options from appearing on the readout. The settings scroll was too lengthy for my taste. All in all, this app brings plenty to the table.
When seeking out the best alarm clock for iPhone, it really becomes a matter of personal preference based on what you require from your alarm clock app. All of the apps reviewed above do an excellent job and any would be an upgrade over the stock clock app. The simplicity of how Night Stand HD allows you to manage your alarms coupled with the beautiful display sets it apart from the rest. I commend the developers who stuck to the basics and delivered a refined app that will look great on any bedside table. Add to that, it’s a universal app allowing you to use it on your iPad without having to make an additional purchase.
Tip: Two useful iPhone accessories that would be a great compliment to any of the applications discussed above is the C-Dock and Kensington Nightstand.