Alarm Clock Pro Review : An Alarm App Done Right
Bless this iMac, it's barely ever turned off and spends most of it's night time in sleep mode rather than being turned. This has meant for a while now I've wanted an Alarm clock to wake up my Mac, run a few apps and have everything ready, bar the mornings cup of tea, for me when I get to my desk. Alarm clock pro suceeds in being a basic alarm with a lot, LOT more.
Billed as a "multi functional, iTunes enabled Alarm clock, stop watch and timer" you only have to delve into the feature set to see you get a lot for your purchase. Want to wake up to an iTunes play list, check email, run a script, ftp a file, heck even send a text alert? This has you covered along with running, playing, executing, sending whatever almost the heck you want to. Features are great and you'd think with this level of flexibility the UI could fall foul to being a complex mess or even worse, myriads of options within options. All features mean nothing if setting up an Alarm is a hassle.
Thankfully Alarm Clock pro keeps things simple yet retains the advanced abilities when you need them. It all starts with the basics of setting an alarm, choose a time, daily, weekly, monthly, do you want it to repeat, are there any exceptions when you dont want it to go off etc etc. This quickly went from "just an alarm clock" to helping me schedule a day.
For me checking email the moment I plonk myself down at the desk is never a good idea so I have Alarm Clock Pro ease me into the daily schedule by loading up the Essentialmac back end, perform a few daily tasks without being distracted by e-mail first thing in the morning. Things don't get much more simple than this with options for individual alarm types well placed within those options. As an example here's how you setup an iTunes alarm.
With an alarm being setup, choose an action to be performed at the time specificed is merely a case of dragging and dropping from the left pane to the right and to edit options within a requested action. Here you can see iTunes playlists are imported nicely.
Options for the actions are different for each action but specific for that action. Running a script action gives you tweaks for that option, loading a website action, different options. It's all done in a way that just makes sense.
The next step, exlusions stops Alarm clock pro going off on those days entered, for me that's sunday morning.
Finally Additional ties up anything else missing including valuable power saving options.
And thats it the most basic options covered for anyone who is a touch like me and want's to wake up a mac with a radio station playing. You can run other applications that aren't on the list and so I tend to wake up with Radium (another essentialmac favourite) doing it's thing.
It doesn't stop there, there's a whole host of other features included in Alarm clock pro, some useful, some not so useful For example you can display the time on your screen in a "swim clock" style which is a black screen with the date and time in a white swimming pool font. Or you can choose to display times or countdowns on screen in one of the many clock styles provided (if the time in the top right hand corner of the screen isn't enough for you) or head over to the website to purchase custom clocks.
The best feature by far is the time zone calculator which handily let you work out the difference between time zones and this has been especially handy for me as I tend to do a lot with the USA time zones.
As handy as this feature is it a shame that it doesn't support creating an alarm from this window. If someone was to sent me a request for a meeting in Pacific standard Time I'd have liked to be able to look this up and then create it in my local time zone but still it's a nice feature that could easily be improved upon.
Basic iCal Importing
Importing abilities are somewhat basic but do like you to bringing address book dates and iCal dates. I tested this out importing iCal dates and it successfully brought in all the birthday reminders I had set up, which worryingly reminded me whose birthday is I might have forgotten. Times and dates of imported but no action is assigned to them so you will have to set up any repeating alarms all reminders once again.
Although you can import this information there appears to be no way to export back out to iCal or indeed any other application of a similar nature. Hopefully a future revision will solve this.
If you're looking for an application to wake you up in the morning, perform a dizzying array of tasks and long with the ability to change the time or date in almost as many ways as possible which you can imagine, then alarm clock pro is definitely for you.
The other extras such as the ability to purchase custom clocks or display the time onscreen as a ticking time bomb do feel like they're a little bit tacked on just to bulk out the application. The time zone converter is handy but I would have liked to have been able to do more with it.
There are cheaper Alarm clocks out there in the iTunes store but not all offer the same feature set along with support provided and koingosw.com have an healty and active Twitter feed offering discounts (50% off Alarm Clock pro at the time of writing)
All in all it's more than capable program and does exactly what I wanted a program like this to do, waking up in the morning with my iTunes playlist, run applications at certain times of the day and I guarantee that if I have one of those moments where I think "I wonder if I can do this with it" it'll cope nicely with it.
Alarm Clock Pro 9 is available from koingosw.com priced at $19.99 (without discounts) and its worth delving into the feature sets alone.