Knowledge is a core value at SCG. This weekly column highlights something interesting learned recently by one of our team members. We hope you find it intriguing, relevant and informative.
This week I learned that we’ve all been sold a lie regarding Apple’s supposed genius in app development and user interfaces, because they really made a mess of one of the most commonly used features of the iPhone: the alarm.
If you’re like me, when you first set up your iPhone alarm, you did it by selecting the Alarm icon within the Clock app. From there, you selected what time you wanted your alarm to go off, and which of the underwhelming sound options you wanted to wake up to. I chose Slow Rise because it seemed like the least bad option, and now I’ve been waking up to that sound every weekday for five years.
“Bedtime” Makes iPhone Alarms So Much Better
But now, Intelligencer has informed me about the Bedtime feature, which has been hiding in plain sight right next to the Alarm feature! Bedtime is way better than the Alarm, but has gone undiscovered in my case since I never went exploring within the Clock app, because, you know, clocks don’t seem like they should require exploring. (If you DO go exploring within the Clock app, you find things like the local time in Cupertino—a really eye-rolling bit of egomania on Apple’s part—so I wasn’t entirely a fool for ignoring the non-alarm features of the Clock app.)
Back to Bedtime, which is essentially an alarm app and then some. In Bedtime, you choose from a menu of “Wake Up Sounds,” all of which are so much better than the choices in the Alarm menu that I am now angry about all the bleary mornings I put up with Slow Rise. Bedtime has other useful/creepy features as well, like a reminder chime that sounds 15 minutes before your target bedtime, and a sleep analysis chart that will shame you for all the evenings you futz around with your phone waaaay past that target bedtime.
For me, discovering all of this has reinforced a basic lesson in UI and web design: Call things what they’re called. Don’t expect users to be so motivated and curious about your app or your site that they’ll click on unfamiliar or non-intuitive headings. Given any task, a user will look for the quickest way to complete it. So if you hide that route behind a cutesy title, you may be dooming users to five years of Slow Rise.
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