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How every smartphone platform gets the alarm clock wrong (tilden.github.io)
36 points by FreakyT on July 14, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments

What annoys me most is hitting snooze by mistake, you then have to open the clock app to toggle it off and on.

Otherwise you alarm goes off while you are in the shower, resulting in angry wife!

The default android clock app will give you a notification about an upcoming alarm, and give you the option to dismiss it in advance (once of course) without having to open it.

iOS gives a notification, but swiping it opens the clock application instead of disabling the snooze. Oh, and it removes the snooze notification.

To disable the snooze you have to remember which alarm triggered and switch it off (then back on)

This is my problem with snooze functionality. Not very often would I actually like to snooze. I'd prefer to eliminate the option as a whole and simply set my alarm back for N minutes if I decide to sleep longer that morning.

That also helps a little with the problem of snap decision making that happens so often when it comes to how many times to hit snooze. If you actually have to think about how much longer you can sleep and set an alarm for it, then you're a lot more likely to make a good choice.

On iOS at least, you can disable snooze entirely on a per-alarm basis. That's pretty much essential for other alarms than wakeup, even regular ones.

Yes! As someone who never intentionally hits the snooze button but does it accidentally all the time, snoozing should never hide the option to turn it off.

related to this, if you have a daily alarm and wake up 2 minutes before it, you have to remember to toggle it off before getting in the shower. Anyone know an app to get around this problem (like a "skip today" button) ?

Android (at least the Nexus 7) has a 'dismiss now' notification option. Very handy.

Not specific to the N7. It's a feature of 4.4 (probably one of the later dot releases).

I got up one mintue before mine today, sat there waiting like a lemon for it to go off.

On stock Android the snoozed alarm is a notification. You can dismiss it directly from the notification panel.

That annoys me too! Maybe that can be in part 2 of the article :-)

You leave my shower alone!

Your right, fixed :p

p.s. This one was intentional.

Agreed that every maker gets it wrong, but not for the stated reasons.

The main way they get it wrong is that snoozing/stopping requires cognitive and physical capabilities unavailable when the alarm sounds.

I use an alarm only for special occasions, days when I need, MUST get up earlier than usual. I'm fortunate to have some schedule flexibility, so I mostly get up due to some combination of increased light levels, lighter sleep, and the dog whining because she needs access to the yard.

No alarm on those days. I wake relatively capable. I can operate a door, a Keurig, not spill my water when I pick it up with one hand while reaching for my housecoat with the other, etc.

When I set an alarm I have an early morning meeting or flight. In all likelihood I will be awoken from a deeper sleep than I would wake from normally, and I will be both cognitively and physically impaired. Much of the time, my wife will have no need to wake, and when the alarm sounds I will want to suppress it quickly.

All modern phones fail at this, suck so outrageously it is almost criminally ludicrously funny.

It's way too early. My fingers feel three sizes bigger than they really are. I cannot focus reliably, I am stabbing at the screen, and if I jiggle the damned phone, its orientation changes and now the vertical slide is horizontal or vice versa or whateveritdoesn'tfuckingmatterSHUTUPNOW!

At least with an old fashioned alarm clock there is a big physical switch that can be stabbed stupidly and clumsily to immediate effect.

Said switch either turns off the alarm or buys me enough time to regain some semblance of a double digit IQ and recall how to suppress it completely.

I want a cannot-miss BRS on the phone. That would work for me. Either it would turn off the alarm or the snooze would revive it when I am in the kitchen dealing with the dog and the Keurig and the cat and so far from my sleeping spouse that the snooze would be harmless.

(Big Red Switch, in case you were wondering.)

There are several third-party apps that have a "shake to snooze" feature. I find that gives me enough time to wake up properly and turn the alarm off (or if I go back to sleep, the fact that it's only snoozed means I get woken right back up again).

Using the default Android alarm clock, in my sleepy state, I would sometimes forget whether I wanted to "snooze" or "dismiss".

I've been using Timely (mentioned in the article) for about 6 months now, and I love it. I use a feature that forces you to do a puzzle before the alarm will turn off.

Unfortunately, my sleepy self recently discovered that I can dismiss the alarm (turn it off) without the puzzle though, by closing it from the notification bar. Hopefully that doesn't become a bad morning habit.

One of my childhood ideas for an invention was a variant of this alarm clock puzzle concept: an alarm clock that forced you to play the game "Simon", each time you wanted to snooze. Each time you snoozed the alarm, the puzzle would become more difficult.

My sleepy self got real good at math when I set puzzles to disable the alarm.

I, too, am quite fond of Timely. For me, enabling my phone's lock screen works quite well: in order to access the notification bar (and skip the shake/puzzle prompt), I would need to unlock the phone. Which is almost as difficult.

If you're as sleepy in the mornings as I am, try face unlock. I haven't tried, but I'm reasonably sure my pre-shower face should not unlock the phone. ;-)

Sleep As Android has these puzzles too with varying difficulties, as well as few more "engaging" "CAPTCHA's" such as tapping sleeping sheep (with awake sheep on the screen), scanning a QR/NFC and writing a log into a dream diary. It also "tracks" your sleep and wakes you up an the optimal time. Can't recommend it enough

On an early 2000s Ericsson phone they used the proximity sensor for snoozing. You could wave your hand over the phone to snooze it (and similarly to silence the ringtone when somebody was calling).

To disable the alarm you would actually need to press a button.


I bet there are lots of UX innovations like this in older devices waiting to be rediscovered... I wrote about that last summer http://bergie.iki.fi/blog/leap-motion-virtual-interfaces/

I don't agree that the current way of doing this is "wrong" and that the author's suggestion is "right." Those terms imply objective reasons as to why is one is better, where this is primarily preference, I believe.

> As on the Telechron, the “snooze” function on today’s alarm clocks is activated by a larger and easier to press button than the “alarm off” function. Presumably, this design was chosen so that the person being woken (who is probably very drowsy) will be more likely to hit the snooze button (and thus be woken again in several minutes) than the alarm off button (and thus sleep for several extra hours and be really late).

I think that's a compelling argument as any.

And yet the top-rated comment is arguing the opposite, frustrated by accidentally hitting the snooze button and then waking their sleeping partner unnecessarily. It's almost like there are multiple differing views, both of which have compelling justifications depending on the preference and circumstances of the user...

Yeah, but the shame is that the author needs to make this bold claim in order to get readership, when the nuances of user experience are not black and white.

iOS gets this really wrong. More than once I've accidentally swiped it to 'off' in an effort to hit the snooze button, then slumbered on for an hour. And then there's the fact that to disable the alarm during a snooze period, you have to go into the clock app and manually switch it off, which is a pain. And don't get me started on the pointless complexity of the 'Which days would you like this alarm on' feature - the price of failing to pay attention to that arcane option is that nobody will ever arrange to meet you on a Saturday morning ever again...

Android user here, but I like the "select active days" option. I'm able to set a standing alarm for 6:30 on weekdays without having to turn it on/off for the weekends. If I want a one off alarm I use voice commands and a little popup gives me a sanity check "7 hours, 8 minutes from now"

Likewise, never had any issue and being able to set up different alarms on weekdays and weekends is really nice, I've no interest waking up at 6AM on weekends but have to do so on weekdays. And disabling the alarm puts me at high risk of not remembering to enable it again.

If you press the hardware volume button, it will also snooze. Much easier to perform with your eyes closed :)

ah, thanks! will try to remember that. seems to go some way to answering the original article's point, too.

My only problem with the iOS alarm is that alarms and timers are inconsistent. You tap to stop a timer from telling you that time is finished, but tapping on an alarm does not stop the alarm, it merely sleeps it. Instead, you have to swipe for alarms. To be fair, you can also swipe for timers, but the timer flat-out says "Tap to stop" on it.

I hate the sleep function (ten minutes of sleep is hardly going to be productive sleep), so this drives me nuts.

Interesting observation but why should you just closely model the physical inspiration when creating applications for screens? Snooze is actually not very helpful even though it feels good in that very moment [1]

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/06/health/upwave-snooze-butto... (I'm sure you can find better sources)

Definitely a good point -- however, that article leans more toward the elimination of the snooze function entirely. (Which may indeed be advantageous for sleep!)

If they do choose to include a snooze button, though, I'd prefer they get it right.

So I have an alarm clock where it's the other way around - the snooze button is tiny and badly placed compared to the alarm button.

I don't have a problem accidentally turning the alarm off. I do however have a problem snoozing too many times and I've found that having a snooze button that requires some effort instead of just smashing the clock reduces the drowsiness between snoozes.

Sleep Cycle, a sleep tracking alarm clock for iOS, uses the accelerometer to implement snooze with a smack of the phone (while it is on your bed), while the alarm off is the de facto slide to the right. I think this is about the best phone alarm clock I've used for this feature alone. It is so similar to interacting with a regular alarm clock.

I've never used a real alarm clock, but I do feel like it is easier to wake up with sleep cycle. It is also awesome that you have a limited number of snoozes, after those it doesn't stop ringing.

I hate the one on iPhone. The first few times I used it I was caught in a daze trying to figure out how to turn the thing off.

I would be happy with the app knowing which button I press. On my iPhone if I push the home button it could snooze, if I hit power or volume it would stop.

trying to hit some arbitrary button on the screen is not my idea of fun, I don't want to even look at the screen. My phone has physical buttons I can determine by touch alone, use them

For me Android gets this exactly right. I've trained myself to swipe left to snooze, right to turn the alarm off. It's all muscle memory for me at this point.

Discussion is a bit baseless without actual data saying whether most people prefer to snooze or dismiss alarm first.

You don't need consensus or lots of data to say that you don't like the user experience for an app.

No. But you need to be able to state that all the smartphone platforms get it wrong.

I also find the Android alarm to be not nearly persistent enough. The clock radio I have at home goes off until you turn it off or snooze it - for hours if needed. But the Android alarm stops after a few minutes, and I've slept through it many times. (Doesn't help that it's quieter too.)

The Android alarm stops after an hour of snoozing. That's reasonable, but I've also been bitten by the "you have snoozed enough already" behaviour.

Erm.. Clicking any physical button on iPhone will snooze the alarm. Swiping will turn it off. I always click without looking, never ever had the same problems as the author. They probably should remove touch snooze completely, and just rely on click snooze. Maybe then it wouldn't be confusing.

Thanks for letting me know! I'll update the article to reflect that new piece of info :-)

Where are those instructions listed?

"In 1956 General Electric introduced the Telechron 7H241 Snooz-Alarm"

I bet if you could find one of those today it'd still work fine, despite being being bashed and knocked on the floor dozens of times over the years.

I don't expect my phone to even be working or usable in 2070.

I have to think most mornings where stop and snooze are on android. Slightly more annoying is the note telling you how long until the alarm goes off when you set it, I'd really like the option to switch that annoying bit of fuckwitted naggery off.

Fyi, on iOS you can also just press the power button to snooze.

What annoys me even more is hitting stop by mistake, you then have to find and set the alarm again. A difficult task if you woke up 2s ago.

You describe Timely and iOS snooze interfaces almost identically, and praise one but not the other. I'm a skeptical kitten.

Somebody make a new alarm clock with the top 75% of the screen a huge button that says, in large letters, "SNOOZE BITCH". The bottom 25% is another button to turn the alarm off. Make this and I'll buy it. Hell, I may even make it myself.

Yay let's solve problem that doesn't really exist ;-)

the last time i tried using my phone for an alarm over an length of time, i quickly found that i'd wake up hours late after having pulled the battery.

yeahhh.... how about one where you tap anywhere on the screen to snooze, but have to swipe to turn it off?

They had it in an old android ICS custom rom i was using, but it's easy enough to find and download one that does the same thing. If you don't like your alarm clock, customize it instead of complaining about it on HN.

Did you read to the end of the article? I love Timely, which is what I use. I'm just saying that it's high time that stock alarm clocks work this way as well.

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