Most of the functional apps, such as the clock app and the calendar app, on a smart phone are pretty comprehensive. Coupled with recent advancements on various smartphone OS’s, there is so much that you can do with the stock app itself, that there is no room for innovation for third party app developers.
Attempts at making apps which perform these basic functions have been futile and have not survived in the ever so competitive app markets across platforms.
Then again, there are exceptions. Sleep optimal is an alarm clock app, made by a couple of students from IIT G and NIFT Hyderabad, for the android platform which caters for one, but an extremely compelling use case.
Unlike the clock app that comes bundled with the android OS, sleep optimal is a dedicated alarm clock app i.e., as a function, the only use of this app is to set an alarm. It has a similar screen layout like the stock alarm clock app for android (Minus a few options like repeat).
It doesn’t allow the user to set a time at which one would like to be woken up and instead requires the number of hours the user would like to sleep for. Furthermore, the only way to set the alarm is using the widget and it cannot be done from inside the app.
The widget is basically the set alarm button. It sits on the home screen and its only function is to activate the alarm according to the details that have been set inside the app.
Initially, it's hard to get the point of the app- it's deceptively simple. It seems like an alarm clock app without many key features which one uses regularly. One might have a tough time figuring out how to set the alarm but once you figure out (do read the instructions), it's a pretty handy app.
The use case
Instead of going through your usual “set the alarm” ritual, all one needs to do is tap the widget. The alarm would be set for exactly the number of hours you'd like to sleep. On tapping, it also shows the amount of time you have to sleep.
This app is still a beta, so there are some flaws to it. One particular bug is that if you're the kind of person who sleeps with music on in your years, the alarm plays through the earphones and not the phone speakers. So, there is a good chance that the alarm won’t wake you up!
The fact that the user can’t set a time that they would like to be woken up at is not so much a bug, but definitely a functionality that the guys at College Wires team might want to include. Most people are used to setting a time, and without that functionality, the user will have to perform some math before he can get the time right.
Can the app succeed?
Sleep optimal is very easy to use and has successfully differentiated itself from Android’s stock alarm clock app; a big feat in itself. However, when faced with the functionalities of Google Voice, this may be a challenge. The developers of the app, Sumit Sinha and Hrishikesh Kumar, are aware of this as they have insisted on having a minimal input requirement for activating the alarm.
Having said that, a simple command to Google voice such as “Wake me up at 6:00am on every weekday” is the only command you will ever have to use to make sure you wake up on time. This command will set and activate your alarm much quicker using this app. How Sleep Optimal will fare against Google Voice, is something only the users can decide.
For now, this isn’t a major concern as Google Voice is feature on Android 4.1 which officially runs only on two devices of the many thousand android devices. Until more phones have Android 4.1, Sleep Optimal is the most lazy friendly alarm clock app on the Google Play Store. A definite 5 star app for the concept.
- Raghu Mohan
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