I've seen a lot of iPhone alarm docks, and for the most part I haven't been impressed. Most have built-in speakers, some add in an AM/FM radio, and the majority have apps that are used to program a dizzying array of settings. Snooze (US$39.99) is an iPhone alarm dock that uses a minimalist design approach and works surprisingly well. Let's take a look at what Snooze is and why it does a great job of turning your iPhone 4/4S/5 into an alarm clock.
If Snooze looks familiar, it could be that you saw it on Kickstarter where it achieved its funding goal and became a real product that is now being sold through the BiteMyApple.co online store. The product was designed by Charleston, South Carolina-based Distil Union, the same people who made the Wally iPhone wallet case I raved about last weekend. This design team has a knack for distilling a product idea down to the basics and making things that just plain work.
For an alarm dock, what do many people want? Since the device is near your bed, you probably don't want it to take up a lot of nightstand space, you want it to charge your iPhone while you sleep, you'd like to be able to glance at the time occasionally, and you'd want to have an easy way to tell the iPhone that you want to snooze for just a little longer.
The wood, silicone and plastic Snooze is compact, taking up a 4.5" x 2" space on the nightstand. It uses your own charge cable and AC adapter, smartly looping the cable through a port on the back of the unit so it doesn't flop down behind that nightstand. Buyers have a choice of four color schemes: maple and white, maple and black, white, and black. One thing that made me smile was the series of Z's molded into an interior plastic strip...
Your iPhone will pretty much have to be "naked" or have a very minimal case installed in order to work in the Snooze. It's convenient that Distil Union's Wally just happens to work quite well with Snooze ... that's what's on the back of the iPhone 5 you see below.
The wooden base has some high-friction type of rubberized material on it, so despite your best sleep-dazed attempts at knocking it all onto the floor, it's probably going to stay in one place. There's a groove to hold your iPhone 4/4S/5 horizontally in the Snooze, and atop the device is a flexible silicone "snooze button" that's the same size as the base of the unit. Whack that button, and you have another few minutes to sleep before the alarm goes off again.
It's this snooze button and the free Snooze Alarm App that work together to work their magic. The app displays a clock with large white letters on a gray background. Don't worry about the screen being too bright in your darkened bedroom, because with the swipe of a finger you can turn down the brightness. The app allows users to set multiple alarms, each with their own snooze length and tone.
One negative about the app is that it doesn't allow users to select their own favorite music or built-in tone. Distil Union notes that they're having the app rewritten and the new version will address some shortcomings of the existing one.
I put this one to the test -- the snooze test, that is. With the lights out I used the app to set an alarm with a 10 minute snooze, then swiped to reduce the brightness of the display. The choice of a neutral gray and white was a good idea for the app, as the display is readable but not obtrusive.
Sure enough, when the alarm went off I blindly reached out with an arm and managed to bump the top of the Snooze, at which time the alarm went off for the requisite 10 minute period.
Snooze works, it's fairly inexpensive, and it looks surprisingly good with an iPhone installed in it. If you're looking for a way to replace that ancient clock radio with its glowing red LEDs, Snooze is a great way to add more utility to your iPhone by turning it into a useful alarm clock while it's charging.
Simple design ensures that there's little to go wrong
Clean and attractive lines look good
Much less expensive than an "active" alarm dock with speakers, a radio tuner, etc...
Doesn't take up a lot of room on a nightstand
App should let users select their own music or other tones as a wake-up sound
Who is it for?
Fans of good design who want a simple and effective way to charge their iPhones while they're asleep
As much as I'm going to regret giving this Snooze away, that's our policy here at TUAW. I guess I'm going to have to buy one! Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before March 1, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a Snooze valued at $39.99