Alarm vs Timer UX pain-point I want fixed when Apple announces iOS 14
With Apple’s developers conference (WWDC) just weeks away, I asked a few of my friends about some of the irritants they hope to see fixed in iOS 14.
Apple has an outstanding reputation for quality, but there’s a few things which aren’t as perfect as they could be, and we’re keen to see if they’ll fix it.
As someone who’s passionate about experience design, here’s my number one UX irritant which I’d love to see improved in the new operating system.
Alarm vs Timer App
When you think about the Alarm and Timer apps, they’re basically doing the same thing: Make a noise at a certain time, and if I’m not ready, make the same noise a little bit later.
Alarm — wake me up at 6.50am, let me listen to affirmations a little bit while I’m trying to wake up, then wake me up again at 6.59am if I fall back asleep, then wake me up again at 7.08am if I fall asleep again.
Timer — remind me to check the lentils on the stove in 10 mins, let me stir it a little bit, and remind me to check it again in another 10 mins, let me stir it a little bit, and remind me to check it again a further 10 mins later.
Unfortunately with the current interface, I always press the wrong button.
Either I turn off the alarm and subsequently sleep in -OR- I accidentally turn off the timer, get distracted and ultimately burn the lentils.
If you think about UX principles, I want a consistent experience. I can’t brain.
Don’t make me think hard, neither early in the morning, nor when I haven’t eaten. Hangry is a real emotion.
Comparing the anatomy 🤓
As a user, I’m lazy, so here’s some of my behaviours and needs:
I’m alway caught off-guard by the sound, so I’m in a rush to silence it. I’ll press anything on the screen to make it stop that horrendous sound.
I know pressing the middle of the screen is the easiest option.
I’m not fully functional (hangry or asleep) so I don’t actually read the text.
I know the colour orange means something bad or something I shouldn’t press unless absolutely necessary.
I forgot how long my timer was for, sometimes I set it for 5 mins, sometimes 10 mins, sometimes 15 mins depending on what I’m cooking.
In iOS 13, the structure of the alert screen is inconsistent. Let’s have a look.
Also, if you look on the screenshot, the ‘Stop’ button is placed poorly for devices that have the ‘Swipe up to open’ hint — it’s bad layout as the two elements are overlapped. It’s not pretty. And I expect pretty.
Should ‘Stop’ or ‘Repeat/Snooze’ be dominant?
Without strong user testing, I really don’t know what the best layout should be, but I know it should be consistent, because I will never be taking the time to read everything on the screen and making an informed decision around which button I need to press, especially with a loud sound going on.
It’s impossible to predict the future. But we can consider what the consequences are if I unintentionally stop either the alarm or the timer.
⚠️ ⚠️ 2 bad things that could happen if I press REPEAT unintentionally:
Timer — I think the sound is turned off, and I begin to work in silence on my projects, deep in thought. Then after a short while, my phone makes another sound, scaring the shit out of me (serious, I’m a programmer) and I jump out of my chair, because I wasn’t expecting it.
Alarm — I think the alarm is off and it makes another sound while I’m getting ready, so I rush from the bathroom to the bedroom to turn it off.
🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨 7 bad things that could happen if I press STOP unintentionally:
Alarm — I sleep in and my boss sends me one of those messages hours later saying “where are you”, I don’t have time to iron my shirt, then I make the late train which is always crowded and during a pandemic, it’s not ideal.
#careerlimiting #crowds #stress #unironedshirt
Timer — I burn the lentils, have to throw it out and start again. Not only am I wasting food, I have to scrub the burnt charcoal pot and end up eating something cheap and unhealthy.
#hangry #effort #messy
For my circumstances, I would rather press the repeat button unintentionally than press the stop button unintentionally.
This is how I would fix the Alarm and Timer screens in iOS 14:
Make the repeat/snooze button prominent, large and in the middle. Maybe also hint about how long it’s going to snooze or repeat for.
Make the Stop button orange and small— it’s what the brain expects. Orange is associated with warning symbols, or caution signs. aka “Warning!! Don’t press this button or you won’t hear the alarm again!”
Include a small hint about how long we’re going to repeat the action for.
That’s better! 👏
Let’s find out on Monday 22nd June if this is on the radar at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Fingers crossed.