A Dedicated Alarm Clock vs. the Alarm Clock App

It's particularly cold today out here in Ottawa and getting out of bed this morning proved to be a serious chore. I really just wanted to stay wrapped up in my comforter, but immediately when I woke up I knew I had work to do…

I use my Android tablet (the Nexus 7) or my Android smart phone as an alarm clock, and generally it works pretty well. I can set multiple alarms, and I can wake up to a song I enjoy instead of some horrendous beeping or bad radio DJ banter. But the drawback to using a multipurpose device like my tablet or a smartphone is that alongside the alarm I have work email and calendar notifications, my news readers, and social sites all reminding me there are places to go and things that need or want my attention.

Generally this might be perceived as an advantage in using a phone or tablet as an alarm. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of what I'm waking up to do that day, or of any high priority tasks that have come up while I was sleeping. Some mornings, though, it's just too much, and I wake up with this sense of anxiety. Those mornings I can't just hit the snooze button. With my eyes barely open, I'll struggle to work the touch screen to reset my alarm to a later time, but by the time I do it's then nearly impossible to ignore everything else my tablet has brought to my attention.

A Dedicated Alarm Clock

In some ways it makes me yearn for those days when I used a dedicated alarm clock. The good old days where I could just strike wildly at the snooze button to squeeze out another 10 minutes wrapped in the warm confort of my bed. Now of course, I could buy an alarm clock for fairly cheap at almost any retail store, but I'm a gadget guy; I can't have some archaic radio alarm clock, or some analog clock with a bell next to my bed. I need something stylish and modern, something customizable, and it would great if it did something more than just sound an alarm.

Of course there are options. There seem to be plenty of iPhone dock-able alarm clocks that offer up a physical snooze button, which is great but not if you use an Android device like me. Fast Company gives a great rundown of alarms "That Aren't Your Smartphone", and even here on Apartment Therapy we have a selection of articles laying out stylish options.

For some reason though, I just can't wrap my head around a single use device like this. All I can think when I look at all of these is, what else does it do? Does it use wifi? Does it tell me the weather? Is it voice activated? Will it let me know when I have email? It's like I just want a device that does all those things and more, and in addition is an alarm clock…

Back To The App

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It was only three or four years ago that I bought my first smartphone. Long before I had an iPad and an Android tablet and a smartphone, things were way simpler. My phone made phone calls, I used a TV to, well, watch TV. Back then my alarm clock was just a simple row of red numbers, with a few big obvious buttons.

Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of these new technologies, and I'm totally that guy who has an app to solve any problem. Need to find a good sushi place? Need to convert metric to imperial? Need to know what satellites are currently orbiting above us? There's an app for that. But only a few years into this so called post PC era, I'm totally spoiled by apps.

It's the idea that any device can do more than just one thing, that you can add functionality to your device and it becomes more purposeful over time. It's convergence and in general it's an advantage, but I wonder what will happen when we start seeing smart fridges, and smart dishwashers, even smart toasters? Devices are only getting more complicated, and at certain threshold I can definitely see how simplicity is in fact a feature in itself.

(images: 1 & 3. Sean Rioux, 2. from Roundup: Snazzy Alarm Clocks)

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