App Review: Easy Wakeup

18 Comments

[appreview]
title=Easy Wakeup
image=https://gigaom.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2009/05/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 über-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.

18 Comments

Luis Congdon

Great review!

After reading this I got a very clear understanding of how this application works, and why not to buy it.

Thanks.

Lorelai

well, i tried the app but either it didn’t register my movements or something but in the end it just didnt’s work.
also i really don’t want to risk throwing my iphone to the ground because i move a lot in my sleep.

I now got myself a real sleep cycle alarm clock that looks good and doesn’t have me worrying all night if something might happen to my phone or if I accidentally shut down the screen and will oversleep in the morning.
for every one interested it’s this really cool thing: http://www.axbo.com/axbo/CMS/CMS.aspx?ClientID=wff1b458fa-9a3b-4f16-9b39-b1d708c62e06&SiteID=0&GroupID=8&Language=E

Darren Albert

Thanks for the review, it has influenced my decision to give this a miss, even though it sounds kinda interesting. I’m not so sure I see the science behind the claims and, given that, I’m not so sure those claims stack up to make this application capable of doing what it says. The claims that it’s difficult to use are enough for me to push me over the ‘give it a miss’ line.

Futons

Thanks for the review. You’d think they could make an alarm clock simple enough to use without such frustration. I’m definitely a fan of KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE.

Elvir

I can recommend everyone a new app called “Sleep Cycle Clock” that does exactly the same like Easy Wakeup and it only costs one dollar. I’ve tested a couple of days now and it works great.

KT

I second this. Sleep Cycle is cheaper, the UI is simpler and cleaner, there’s none of this “attach to hand” crap, and the functionality is the same.

Milton

Looks like the reviewer has a mighty strong bias against this app. Granted, it has some limitations but it has really worked well for me. Amazing, how you cheer when someone writes something bad about the app. You are not fit to be a reviewer.

Stig Ove Voll

I’ve logged three nights of sleep, and I still can’t figure out those graphs. How do I know if I’ve had a bad or a good night’s sleep by reading the graphs? And what is the “send log” supposed to do? I thought the idea was to send the logs to my website at easywakeup.net so I could compare the graphs over time, but no…

Olly Farshi

@Wendy – Go Team Pedant! Go Wendy! Well noted re. the spelling/grammar issue. You get points.

@Chris – Well said.

Chris Pratt

This is probably the most retarded idea for an iPhone app I’ve ever heard of. The iPhone, like most cellphones, makes for a good alarm, but a tool for sleep study, it is not.

Not only is the list of instructions stupid. I’m really supposed to remember to put my phone in airplane mode, turn off wifi and turn down the brightness every night before bed and then turn it all back on when I wake up? That’s a lot of work. And what if I get a call? For some of us, our cell phones are the only phones we have: it needs to remain a usable phone. All of that is not counting the fact that you have to “attach” the phone to your hand. Seriously? I’m supposed to sleep with a phone fixed to my hand. On what planet did that even sound like a remotely acceptable thing?

Sheer novelty might have saved this app, but what the hell is up with the $10 price tag? $10 will buy you some really complex and generally well-made apps in the App Store, neither of which seem to apply to this “app”.

Anyone who buys this, please report to my offices where I will promptly slap you. It’ll hurt, but it’ll save you from being stupid in the future.

Wendy

“Airplaine” mode? “Attach the iPhone to your hand?”

I refuse to support bad grammar.

Olly Farshi

@Colin – The Cydia version of Easy Wakeup, for jailbroken iPhones only, has slightly different features than the App Store version. Plus, the Cydia version costs $15.96 – that’s over 5 bucks more expensive than the App Store version.

I also think the idea of attaching your iPhone to your hand is a bad joke. I love the idea of home-hacks and DIY approaches, but that the developers posted images of make-shift home-hacked socks and sweat bands seems to highlight this apps biggest flaw.

Colin

I was surprised to find so negative review about this app.
I’m using Full version of this app from Cydia during one month and can say that it does work exactly as saying. It’s really helpful for me and make my awaking more easier.
I use recommended way to attach device from developer site – http://easywakeup.net/content/how-attach-iphone. And I found it’s very comfortable for me.

Of course, better if I don’t need strap my iPhone. I found information on developer site about they now working under feature allowed don’t strap device while sleeping.
And I’m looking forward this new feature.

Kyle

This app is just an attempt at imitating a SleepTracker watch (google for it). It works much better than this app but it’s not as cheap.

Olly Farshi

Pleasure to be of assistance Ryan. I agree that in terms of innovation the iPhone may not be the most effective platform. But then, do we really need innovation where alarm’s are concerned? Perhaps not, we just need effectiveness and ease of use.

I also think that the 3.0 OS update will bring some new possibilities. Specifically, push alarm alerts – whereby the server notifies (whilst the app is closed) of the alarm you set (it could perhaps even play a custom tone).

Ryan

Unfortunately the iPhone SUCKS for alarm clock innovation and until they allow background processes it will continue to SUCK!

I & everyone else just wants to set up alarm times, maybe change the alarm sound each night(set it and forget it)! That’s how ppl have been setting an alarm clocks for years! Complicating a process people are used to is a sucky UX. No fault of these or any other iPhone alarm developer… fault of Apple for now!

Thanks for this review – I enjoyed learning about this new alarm iPhone app.

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