The Clock app that come with the iPhone has an alarm and a timer function, but the functionality is simple. Timewinder extends the capability of the alarm and timer, but isn’t a full replacement because it lacks the world clock — or even a master clock (except for a special mode).
Timewinder is a fairly new app from Widget Revolt. Because it has alarms that can run in the background, it requires iOS 4.x and should properly be used on an iPhone only if you want the alarms to work once the app has quit.
- Multi-step timers allow one to create a single timer with different lengths for different steps. For example, preheat time, then bake time.
- One can add text, pictures, and sound or music to each timer step to build sophisticated timer routines.
- There are built-in timer templates to quickly create timers. Save multiple timers for different uses.
- You can wake up to your favorite song. Timers and alarms can use songs from your sound library as notifications. However, music cannot be played as a notification when app is running in background
- Timers and alarms run and notify in the background. They remain correct for local time even if you change time zones.
- Alarms can repeat several times per day and repeat on selected days.
The app is designed to have the same familiar look and feel of Apple’s Clock app, so if you’ve used that app, you’ll be comfortable with Timewinder. That said, I did have some minor problems with Timewinder.
- When pictures from the photo library are selected as the background for a timer, they are squeezed horizontally. Widget Revolt reports that it doesn’t happen for all photos and may be an iOS bug. It happend to me for every picture I selected.
- The app is slow to select pictures from the photo library. Widget Revolt says, “The slow responses for picture loads and selecting songs is 100% [caused by] the picker that comes with iOS. There’s an enhancement request to add a spinner to let the user know the system is getting the media, but it hasn’t been integrated into a build yet.” I found the delay for my own library, with 340 photos, irritating.
- When running a timer, there is a button at the top right “Next Step” to jump to the next step in a multi-step timer. However, if there is only one step, then the timer is reset, and the button, in that case, should really say, “Reset,” in this reviewer’s opinion.
- I did have a crash when trying to edit the text associated with the text label for a timer. After the crash, I had a hard time editing that text until I restarted the app again.
What I Liked
The app has more features than the simple alarms and timer of Apple’s clock app. You can wake up to music, and you can set an alarm to repeat at some time during the day. You can set customized text and a photo as background for a timer. To assist with the fact that music can’t be used as an alarm when the app is in the background, there is bedtime mode that shows the time of day and whether an alarm has been set. This encourages the user to leave the app running and the iPhone on display just before one retires. It also serves as a kind of master clock display, if you realize how to invoke it.
What I Didn’t Like
Timewinder seemed unresponsive at times, and I found myself stabbing at the display, trying to get a response. In addition to the problems noted above, the app seems just a tad short of refined in some ways. Also, be careful to note the restriction that music cannot be used as a notification unless the app is running in the foreground. Of course, there is no world clock, so this app generally needs to be used to augment the iPhone Clock app rather than be used as a replacement.
If this app were to include a master clock and world clock, over and above bedtime mode, along the lines of Apple’s Clock app, it would be a nice replacement. Moreover, because the iPad doesn’t ship with a Clock app, it would be a nice addition to the iPad suite of apps. Right now, one has to select a favorite clock app for the iPad, and I haven’t found one that I really like. In any case, for now, the iPad isn’t yet at iOS 4.x, so the background alarms wouldn’t work anyway.
Widget Revolt still has a few things to work out and some requests for enhancements are pending, so if $2.99 seems too steep, you might want to wait for the next version. Otherwise, I recommend the app, but with some minor hesitation based on the observations above.
Editing an Alarm
That said, I was expecting a more solid, refined, intuitive app. Hence the disappointing rating.