Gentle Alarm – Up And At 'Em!
Tested version: 3.6.2
Latest version: 3.5.3
Requires Android: from 1.5
For most of us hard-working folks, waking up early(ish) in the morning can be difficult, which is why we depend on alarm clocks to help us start off our days. If you're still using a classic radio alarm clock à la Groundhog Day you might want to skip today's review. However, if you're looking for a highly functional alarm clock app for your Android device—read on, because Gentle Alarm is one of the best alarm clocks I've come across in a while.
Features & Use
Test device: Samsung Galaxy Note
Android version: 2.3.6
Who can resist the sweet sounds of a classic alarm clock? BEEP! BEEP! BEEP or else: RING! RING! RING! What a great way to start the day—NOT! Gentle Alarm's name alone suggest a less aggressive way be woken up, so let's see what it has to offer.
It takes but a few moments to install the 2,88 MB and it requires the following permissions:
- Personal information: The app can identify log data in order to send debug data to the developers. Furthermore, this permission is required in order to set alarms.
- Phone calls: So that the app can establish when you are receiving incoming calls.
- Storage: The app stores alarm/wake-up data to the SD card.
- System tools: This is to set an alarm after your device has been rebooted; it can also start up automatically every time your device is activated and ensures that the display remains switched on (Wake-Lock); it can also prevent you having to enter a PIN in order to switch off the alarm (Disable-Keyguard).
- Network communication: Internet access for updates, etc.
After having downloaded the app and accepted the licence agreement Gentle Alarm clock informs you of possible conflicts with changes to lockscreen settings and/or task managers and how to resolve them. It then presents you with a rather ugly but informative info screen. Here's an overview of the app's main functions:
- Dock support
- Night display
- Choose your own colours, wallpapers, date and time formats, font size, etc.
- Quick Alarm
- Lots of alarm settings and profiles
- Choose an alarm tone: songs, ring tones, internet streams, nature sounds, your own playlists, etc.
- Uses own media player for super-gentle fade-in of music
- Optional: Large button mode for users with glasses, flip to snooze, shake to dismiss and more
- Speech input and output
- Tasker and SleepBot support
As you can see, Gentle Alarm harbours a lot of useful features, which is great, but the app's true strength lies in the manner in which you are woken up. It actually monitors your sleep rhythms and thus allows you to pick a moment when you're in a light sleep cycle to be woken up.
I can't say whether it's placebo or science, but since using Gentle Alarm I do feel somewhat more refreshed when I wake up in the mornings. I played around with the app and adjusted the wake-up times according to what I think works best for me, and I must say that I am very pleased with Gentle Alarm, its settings options and the fact that it's possible to download more wake up sounds, e.g. the nature sounds.
If you've been on the hunt for a new alarm clock for your Android smartphone or tablet, look no further, because Gentla Alarm really leaves nothing to be desired (as far as waking up goes, that it – it's not gonna save the world or anything). You can set it according to your personal preferences and it has a lot of cool functions. We highly recommend it for people who like to start the day the gentle way.
Screen & Controls
The information screen at the very beginning is kind of ugly and, to be honest, a little bit overwhelming—but once you get past this the set-up is great.
The Gentle Alarm controls are equally uncomplicated and easy to use, though it does take a while to get accustomed to all there is on offer. Once you know what the programme has in store for you, however, you’ll find that navigating it is child’s play.
The main screen displays the current time and date (which can be adapted) and the next time the alarm will go off. There’s a menu at the top that allows you to switch a host of alarms on/off. Here’s an overview of the features listed in the menu:
- Quick-Alarm: Allows you to set a one-time alarm. Choose when it rings (e.g. after a 30 minute power nap). The time can be set manually or using the helpful shortcuts.
- Alarm: Set regular alarms for specific days here. And to make sure you really wake up you can always opt for the extra loud noise that will sound at the end of whatever alarm sound you’ve chosen to wake you up.
- Alarm profile: You’ll find certain default settings here (standard profile, silent, nap, day off…), but these can be adapted to your own preferences. There are three phases to each profile: the pre-alarm, the main alarm and the snooze, the first of which can be switched off if you so wish, and there are tons of other settings (how much time between the different phases; which alarm sound for which phase; volume + length of an alarm; snooze function; set a puzzle or easy math equation to make sure you’re really awake, etc.).
- Night mode: Adapt settings for the display, ring tone mode, flight mode, status bar, etc.
Once you’ve set an alarm it will appear on the app’s main screen. Click on it in order to change the alarm or the active alarm profile or skip or change the next alarm.
Hit your device’s menu button in order to access the settings including the visuals (font, colours, themes, etc.), calibrate the volume, set a language, etc. All settings can be saved/restored to/from the SD card.
Lastly, there’s a great widget to be downloaded. This widget allows instant access to settings and can be placed on the homescreen and its appearance (background colour, transparency, font) can also be altered. It’s a fun gimmick if you’re into it. I’ve opted to add a shortcut to Gentle Alarm to my clock.
Speed & Stability
If there's one thing that an alarm clock should be it's reliable, and you can rest assured that this is the case with Gentle Alarm. Up until now (and we've been testing it for several weeks) it's performed very solidly.
Gentle Alarm usually costs EURO 1,99 which is more than fair considering the application's scope and the fact that you will be using the app almost every day. It's also very stable and doesn't feature any ad banners—and that's something we're prepared to pay a fair price for. The only reason we're knocking off a star is because of the sheer mass of alarm apps available for less money on the Market. Seeing as it is our app of the week you can score it for only 99 Cents!