It won’t be a stretch to say that you use your Android phone as an alarm clock. And after you’ve spent an hour catching up on RSS and Reddit in bed, your phone probably ends up underneath your pillows.
But it’s time to upgrade that experience. Why use the crummy built-in clock app on your phone when you can get much better alarm apps from the Play Store, ones that will go an extra mile to make sure you’ve actually woken up? And while your phone is already on the bed, why not use it to track your sleep? This way the phone will wake you up gently, at the time (when you’re in light sleep mode). No more groggily screaming at the alarm app for you!
1. Puzzle Alarm Clock
Puzzle Alarm Clock tries to make sure you’re really awake when you turn off that alarm. The app’s UI is simple, much like the default Clock app, only the app has a lot of options for turning off the alarm.
You have everything from solving puzzles, entering captchas and solving simple math problems. Oh, and just to make this interesting, there’s a timer. So you don’t have all the time in the world to solve the puzzle, only a couple of seconds. If you have a phone with an NFC chip, you can use that to turn off the alarm. Depending on how desperate you really are to get out of the bed, there are a couple of interesting ways to use this feature. Just put an NFC sticker somewhere far from your bed, like the bathroom mirror. If you don’t have an NFC-enabled phone, you can do the same thing using a printed-out QR code.
The app is free to start but is laden with ads (which you can block). You’ll be shown a full-screen ad every time you stop an alarm. You can pay $2.99 via in-app purchase to remove the ads.
2. Sleep as Android
Sleep as Android has literally everything you need for a good night’s sleep.: from sleep tracking to gently waking you up to powerful features for turning off the alarm.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the important features.
- Sleep tracking using the phone’s accelerometer.
- Set a range of time of when you want to be woken up, and the app will pick the best minute depending on your sleep cycle (when you’re in light sleep mode).
- Integration with Android Wear, Pebble and Samsung Gear for wrist-tracking. Also integrates with Philips Hue lights that can help you gently wake up.
- Sleep graph and light sleep/deep sleep statistics.
- Nature sounds to help you fall asleep, sleep talking recording, and music playlists for alarms (via an in-app purchase).
- Wake up by solving puzzles or by tapping an NFC tag.
So as you can see, when set up correctly, Sleep as Android can be a killer night-time app. You start by playing soothing sounds within the app, keep the phone beside you on your bed, let it track your sleep all night and let it wake you up at the most convenient time. Then, to force yourself to wake up, use the NFC tag or the puzzle-solving feature. As you’re tracking your sleep every night, the app will provide immense insight into your sleep patterns. Once you have the data in your hand, you can work on improving it.
Note: All sleep tracking apps advise you to put the phone in charging mode when using the sleep tracking feature because without it, the battery can deplete pretty fast (it was around forty percent a night on my OnePlus One). So to make the best of it, attach the charger, and put your phone under the bedsheets in the corner of your bed.
The app is free to try for fourteen days, after which the sleep tracking features will be disabled. You can upgrade by paying $4.49, but this upgrade pricing seems to differ according to regions. For me, here in India, the upgrade price was less than a dollar. Still, for everything that the app does, the $5 price is worth it.
3. Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is a sleep tracking app similar to Sleep as Droid but better designed and more focused. It costs $1.69 (there is no free version), and all the basics of sleep tracking are covered. It works the same as Sleep as Android when it comes to tracking sleep, generating charts and all that jazz.
If you’re not looking for pro features like wear integration and powerful options for turning off the alarm clock, Sleep Cycle is a good under-$2 alternative.
4. Snap Me Up
Snap Me Up is a different kind of alarm clock. Instead of solving puzzles or equations, you take a selfie to stop the alarm. You can also record a video for up to eight seconds. This can be a great way to record your thoughts or how you feel just after waking up. The selfie thing every morning might seem a bit too narcissistic, but it’s a good alternative because when you’re getting ready to snap your face, you’re going to put some effort into it, and that’s going to alert your brain to wake up.
5. Life Time Alarm Clock
Life Time Alarm Clock is a design-focused, simple alarm utility. Instead of a myriad of options, you get three presets when setting up an alarm. Peaceful Wake wakes you up gradually, Everyday is just a basic alarm and Fast and Hard! includes challenges and blaring sounds. The app is free to use, but you can pay for enabling widgets, timers and disabling ads.
How Do You Wake Up?
What app do you use to set up alarms every day? Something basic like Timely? Or a super customized app like Sleep as Droid? Share with us in the comments below.
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