App Review: Easy Wakeup

[appreview]
title=Easy Wakeup
image=http://gigapple.wordpress.com/files/2009/05/easywakeup.png
price=$9.99
url=http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=306244493&mt=8
rating=avoid
[/appreview]

Easy Wakeup is an advanced alarm clock, designed to gently nudge you from your slumber, helping you wake up alert and ready to tackle the day’s tasks.

For some of us, sleep is a real bane — an interruption to what would otherwise be the perfect non-stop working schedule. To others, settling in to the glorious dirge of dreaming is a true joy. Regardless, we’ve all got to wake up sometime and, aside from those truly gifted natural-risers, most of us rely on an alarm clock.

Easy Wakeup is pitched as a smart alarm clock for the iPhone. Alongside waking you at the optimal moment, based on your sleep cycle, it also incorporates custom alarm tones and sleep-related statistics.

The Science of Sleep

Free Terra, the team behind the app, claims that Easy Wakeup helps you rise refreshed, energized and alert. The core features of the app are based on their assertion that the phase of sleep in which a person wakes up, affects how they feel throughout the day.

easywakeup_timeset

The idea is that Easy Wakeup prompts you to wake up at the optimal moment, rather than one pre-determined specific time. The developers say that there’s a link between our sleep phases and our body movements. With this in mind, in order to determine when we should rise, Easy Wakeup monitors your movements as you sleep and then calculates the ideal moment to wake you.

Having swallowed all the pseudo-science, this seems like a reasonable enough assertion to a lay-sleeper like myself. In testing Easy Alarm, I wanted to determine whether the app would bring any additional benefit to me, beyond that of a traditional alarm clock.

Looking Sleepy

Seeing as many users will be interacting with the app when they go to bed, or when they rise from bed, I expected the app to feel comfortable and intuitive. Instead, perched on the edge of my futon, trying to configure Easy Wakeup for the first time, I found the app’s look and feel inconsistent and frustrating.

The Alarm Clocks screen is where, much like the iPhone’s Clock app, you’ll configure multiple alarms – useful for those with shifting sleep routines, or partners who rise at a separate time. The alarms incorporate a cavalcade of settings, from customizable melody, to snooze and wake up intervals.

easywakeup_multiple_alarms

The incorporation of shake to snooze is terrific. It’s a smart way of having a snoozing user interact with the device. However, being able to configure wake up intervals felt confusing — I just didn’t understand what palpable affect this would have on my sleeping and waking.

Of note also is the Statistics screen, a section of the app which collates data relating to your sleeping patterns, specifically your rest time. The data is then rendered as an ugly looking graph which can be e-mailed out to acquaintances showing an unnatural interest in your sleep patterns.

easywakeup_graph_stats

While it could be wonderful to have access to these kind of statistics, the information it’s recording seems to be useless. I’d love to know how much I rolled around on a given night, or if I mumbled in my sleep, or to be able to consistently rate the quality of a night’s sleep and compare this data over time. Unfortunately, Easy Wakeup’s statistics just aren’t that useful, imaginative or fun.

Sweet Dreams

Setting it up for a night’s sleep I discovered that Easy Wakeup certainly isn’t as easy as the name asserts. Once the alarm is activated, the app instructs you to turn on Airplane Mode, turn off Wi-Fi, set the iPhone brightness to a minimum, charge the battery and attach the iPhone to your hand.

easywakeup_instructions

A frustrating, overwhelming, and downright irritating list of instructions that pile on the stress when you’re attempting to settle in for a good night’s sleep. The app is left open while you’re sleeping, hence the brightness needs to be turned down and the battery charged. Frankly, leaving your iPhone on all night with an app open just isn’t going to work for the vast majority of users.

And then there’s the big deal-killer: attaching the iPhone to your hand so that the app can record your movements. Apart from this instruction being utterly odd, killing any enthusiasm I had left for the app, I was quite befuddled when attempting to determine how best my iPhone should be literally attached to my hand: would I use a belt, string, tape, glue, a staple-gun?

Summing Up

The bafflingly long list of instructions, apexing with the ├╝ber-punchline of, “attach the iPhone to your hand,” utterly ruin this app. I don’t think it’s a realistic, comfortable, or natural proposition to expect users to actually hold or attach the iPhone to their hand while sleeping.

Not being a sleep specialist, dream doctor, or nocturnal nerd, I can’t vouch for Free Terra’s pseudo-scientific assertions when it comes to the theory behind this app. However, sleeping with the iPhone in hand just doesn’t sit (or lie) right with me.

Furthermore, the app is ugly, counter-intuitive, and the stats seem to be useless. For the record, after trying the app for a few nights, I found that my sleep routine was completely disrupted by having the iPhone attached. The stress of having it there caused me to wake up early anyway, thus negating the actual alarm clock functionality. In summary, you’ll sleep better if you avoid Easy Wakeup.

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