With the advent of mobile phones that are more like mini computers and personal assistants, it follows that one of their new uses would be as alarm clocks. Alongside that development, it would also follow that there would be a slew of applications to help users meet the day refreshed and on time. Gentle Wake Alarm Clock is one of the most recent of these, and possibly one of the most advanced. The app is US$0.99 and is universally available on devices with iOS 6.0 or later. It is optimized for iPhone 5.
The app features a sleek, modern, and user-friendly interface. Upon opening, the user sees a digital clock with a blinking line that travels around the clock (to mark seconds). Tapping the circular button at the clock's bottom brings up the alarm feature. One drags the circle around the clock to the desired wake time (which is then displayed in the center of the clock), and the hours between set and wake times are displayed below. Tap OK to set the alarm. The alarm works best if the phone is placed face down on your bed next to the pillow; that way, it can pick up your movements and determine the level of sleep depth you are in. It is also best if the phone is plugged in while the app is in use.
The most interesting-and most distinctive-part of this app, however, is the vast array of sounds users can pick from to be the actual alarm. There are several different sounds in different categories already loaded onto the app to pick from; however, there is a large catalogue of sounds for free download within the app. The catalogue is divided into fourteen different categories, most of them nature-oriented (Rain, Ocean, Frogs).
However, there are categories taken from man's contributions to the world, including an entire section of household-related sounds, complete with a running clothes dryer and several kinds of coffee makers. Clicking on the individual sound's name will play a preview and give the opportunity to download it into your personal library. The sounds can also be rated and the ratings of other users will be displayed below the name (with one to five small circles being filled in).
Users can also create a customized "wake-up escalation sequence" that features a succession of sounds to transition them from deeper to lighter levels of sleep into relaxed wakefulness. There are already four sounds pre-included, with space for two more; these can be rearranged or deleted entirely for new ones. The developers also give the option of previewing the entire sequence before use or emendation.
I used this app as my alarm this morning. Last night, I chose "Beach in Crete" for my sound and set the alarm for seven am. When I heard the waves crashing on my phone this morning, I initially thought it was my rotating electric heater malfunctioning; then, I thought it might be a neighbor loudly sweeping or shoveling while it was still dark. Then, I remembered the sound I had chosen and was able to briefly enjoy the sound of waves crashing.
I had actually woken up before my alarm and was in that hazy, half-asleep no man's land when the alarm went off. It certainly woke me up completely, and was a refreshing and even funny change from the standard strum alarm I usually use. Tomorrow I look forward to maybe seeing what it's like to wake up to a coffee maker turning on, since mine is a coffee-free house.
Phones are becoming more and more integral to every detail of our lives, and iPhones are unquestionably at the forefront of that advancement. As developers use their creativity to make the most of both new technology and the popularity of iOS, iPhone lovers can experience the best of that technology and creativity. Gentle Wake Alarm Clock is a perfect example of this delightful marriage.