This week I had the chance to test out the alarm clock app “Sleep Science HQ” by Phase4 Mobile. Honestly this app is more than just an alarm clock. In fact I would say that as an alarm clock app it needs a little help after you install it, but I’ll get into to that later. However as a way to understand your sleep patterns it’s really great with a few minor annoyances.
First thing I noticed when I opened up this app was how beautiful everything was. I mean it’s really designed well. All the screens are laid out beautifully and almost look futuristic. Whoever designed this app must be an artist. It’s really a thing of beauty to look at. The clock screen where you sent the time is set on a nice field of stars overlooking a desert. The clock dial is easy to turn and completely intuitive. I loved it! At the very bottom of the screen is a list button that you tap and a menu pops up. The font is clean and easy to read and the items of the menu and easy to understand. No guess work when it comes to operating this app. From here you can go to the Log screen and see you sleep log, graphs screen to see graphs about your sleep, my sounds screen to see all the sounds available to you for alarms, sound catalog to see what sounds you can download, and settings and help. Each of these screens is beautifully laid out and look fantastic. So if I were to rate this app on it’s interface alone I would give it five stars right now!
However we don’t rate apps on only looks. We rate them on also functionality and how well they do what they say they do. As far as monitoring sleep goes this app works great except for one little problem. The motion sensor requires you to keep the phone in the bed with you while you sleep. If you are like me and you usually leave your phone on your nightstand, during the night, then it can’t really sense movements when you are sleeping. Also when you set the alarm it says you have to plug it in and leave it face down. Plugged in so the phone doesn’t run out of battery I assume and face down so the strobe light can flash when the alarm goes off. Keeping a plugged in phone in the bed might not bother some users but it kind of bothered me. I’m truly a light sleeper and I also tend to move around in bed quite a bit. Every time I moved the phone did too and I had to move it out from underneath me several times! I also tested the app with the phone out of the bed and it worked but when I looked at the graphs you can clearly see that no movement was really noticed until I picked up the phone. If someone is looking into the app to track sleep patterns it might put them off to have a phone in their bed. One idea I had was to build an apple watch parter app that way people can keep the phone out of their bed and still track movement wearing the watch. Just a thought but I’m betting they might be already working on one. Another thought was to monitor sounds coming from the person rather than movements.
Another minor issue I had was the sounds that came installed with the app. I listened to the sounds in the Rain, Ocean, Crickets & Insects, and Wind Chimes sections. Each of the sounds was very nice and once again the images associated with the sounds were beautiful. The one issue I had was NONE of those sounds would wake anyone up! In fact I’ve heard those same sounds on systems designed to help people fall asleep! I am a light sleeper so maybe they would wake me up just because it’s pretty easy to wake me up. Just because I was curious, I asked my wife who is very hard to wake up if she thought any of these would wake her up. She laughed at me and said no I think they would make me sleepy. I tend to agree with her. Plus each of the sounds was so quiet and pleasant. Good for ambient noise but not that great for an alarm clock app! Sometimes it’s better to have something that screams at you! However I took a gander at the sound catalog and I found the “Sirens” section and found the sounds I needed. Extremely loud, annoying siren and alarm sounds that I think would do the job. I don’t think they would pass the wife wake up test but nothing ever does. I won’t hold that against them ha ha.
Overall I think this app looks great, has a ton of sounds available, and does what it says it does. It does have a few design flaws in my opinion. I don’t think everyone would want to sleep with the phone in the bed. As an alarm clock app it would be better if they offered a couple of those loud sirens in the initial app install package. That way someone who is a hard sleeper could use the app without searching for new sounds to download. I almost gave this app a lower rating until I found those sirens. Some people might not like to wake up that way but in my house it’s required our alarms be LOUD AND ANNOYING!
Overall Rating: ★★★★★ – 4.5 stars
I took half a point off for the phone in the bed thing and the fact that I had to hunt for the appropriate alarm clock sounds. Otherwise this app is great and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a sleep tracking app. Give it a try! At 99 cents it’s a heck of a bargain!
John McNamara is the webmaster and owner of TheAppReviewZone.com. He runs this website and also owns a DJ business which he runs part time. John is married, a father of two, and a complete geek when it comes to technology and mobile apps.