UsefulAlarm is a new iPhone app on the market which is going to make your life so much easier in the morning. Useful Alarm was created by Stefano Galicia to bring together those pesky things we need in the morning to start our days. There are three main components to the app: alarm, personal information centre and sleep monitor. There is also a feed for your calendar, reminders, horoscope, and news. The start up page is terrific with giving me the stuff I need to know. The time and weather are two things I need to start my day, and then from there I can go into the secondary menu.
The alarm portion of the app works very well. You the user has the ability to set your preferences for what annoying sound you want to wake up to. It’s easy to use one of the pre-packaged ringtones, or you can bring in one of your favourite songs from your iTunes account. The Radio is also another viable option, but you do have to go into the general setup to pick the radio station you want to use. You can keep a number of alarm preferences, which makes it nice for the user to not have to reenter new alarm times. Calendar and Reminders are fed from your device so you can have a quick check as to what is on your plate for the day. Horoscope is a little hokey, you know those generalised fluffy things which make no sense and really have no bearing on your life, but its fun. News is probably one of the weakest links in the app. It should really be called “headlines” as you don’t have the ability to actually read the story. It would have been nice if the app had the ability to forward you to the whole story by simple clicking on the headline. There is also the ability for the app to monitor your sleep patterns, or actually what is does is just tape your sleep. I am not sure how useful this is, after taping a nights rest it only confirmed what I already knew, we both snore. I can’t really see myself listening to the playback of eight hours of sleep, after I just work up. But, hey it’s there if you want to know what happens when you are sleeping.
The overall look of the app is pretty good, it has a soft ethereal look and the developer has a good product, but I would like to see a couple of changes to make the app work better for the user. The general set up page is concise and setting the alarm menu is clean and easy to follow. But if you do go the instructions or tutorial page for help, is pretty limited and really doesn’t tell you anything as to how to make it work other than “Please do that” or “Please don’t do that”. There a few grammatical errors, and the “Nigth” records spelling I am sure will be fixed quickly on the next build. The main thing to remember about this app is to make it work you have to always leave it running in the background, so make sure it’s plugged in, as all alarm apps do, it will suck your battery dry. I think as UsefulAlarm gets more feedback changes will be implemented to make it a much more well rounded app.