Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Wake Up Alarms

I use my phone as my alarm clock and I have to wonder what the people were thinking when they designed the screens to turn off the alarms (shown above on an iPhone 5 and a Droid RAZR M).  For the benefit of the younger and less experienced readers (I'm starting to find some sick pleasure in saying that) I'd like to explain the problem here.  As you become older, or as Brian my youthful employee likes to say "become more brittle", you'll find that you need corrective lenses for almost all you do.  I'm now to the point that when somebody hands me something to read I find myself pulling a "Dr. Gaisford" move where I hold the item at arm length from my face so I can actually read it.

There is a reason why most alarm clocks have a single physical button on the top of them to turn them off.   Simply slam your hand down on the top of it and you'll most likely hit that button and turn off the alarm.  At 5:30am when I am suddenly thrust out of my deep sleep into a very dark room lit only by the seemingly ultra-bright screen on my phone, it is very difficult to make sense of these screens.  The iPhone screen is not as bad as the Android screen because the slide at the bottom of the screen is fairly easy to do.  Of course when the room it pitch black and I'm groggy from sleep and I don't have glasses on the screen looks more like this (except it hurts your eyes more and there is a loud sound that won't stop):

Most of us could probably figure out how to turn the alarm off even when the screen is that bad.  How about the Android screen:

Now imagine having my vision being half asleep squinting as hard as you can to make out the text on that screen (which I never could due to the extreem brightness) trying to turn off the alarm.  A few days ago I hit what I thought was the right button because it went silent.  When I turned off the water from the shower I could hear it going off again.  I obviously guessed wrong and hit the snooze button by mistake.  That or I guessed correctly but since the two buttons are so small and right next to each other I may have actually hit the wrong button.

I would suggest that a wake up alarm screen needs to have two simple large buttons, one to snooze and the other to indicate I'm up.  Here is a very quick and dirty mockup adjusted to my early morning perception:

This is by no means a perfect and beautiful, but for the purposes of turning off my alarms at 5:30am, I don't need perfection, I need function!  Note that the two huge buttons are on opposites ends of the screen so you won't make a choice and hit the wrong one.


Christofer C. Bell said...

The biggest issue with the Android one is not that you get up after hitting snooze by mistake, it's going back to sleep after you hit dismiss by mistake.

With the iPhone design it's more difficult to disable the alarm by mistake because you must do the slide action. Simply fumbling around with the device will, at worst, snooze it.

In other words, the iPhone design is pretty good. The Android design (at least in your example) is garbage.

Martin Vidner said...

Thinking about the color choice (bikeshed!), I was puzzled by Red = Sleep, and I realized that I would like more the Matrix pair of Blue Pill and Red Pill.

Michael Mossman said...

Great read ... I too have been having fun with alarm clock apps lately. I recently purchased a new phone, and was disappointed to find that the built-in version of DeskClock that came with it no longer had the "Shake to Turn off" feature. Okay, off to Google Play store to find a replacement. All I wanted was a simple way to silence the bl**dy thing. I finally settled on "Alarm Clock" by MacroPinch, simply because it allows you to press the Power button to turn off the alarm. As a bonus, it also turns off that too-bright screen at the same time =)

Wake Up Alarms (part 2)

Back in January of 2013 I wrote about wakeup alarms and compared the difference between Android and iOS.  That was back on an iPhone 5 and a...