Developer: Chris Kanagawa
Price: $1.99 Download on the App Store
Designed for parents, iTOT – The Innovative Time-Out Timer is an iPhone application meant to turn your phone into a time-out aid. A fairly decent concept, iTOT features some good ideas in terms of design, but unfortunately the execution is a bit lacking. The settings features include the ability to turn sound and movement detection on or off, set a password for ending the time out, and save session statistics for multiple children. These features demonstrate a bit of thought regarding the design, but it is all undermined by the simple inability to stop the timer once it begins.
Time-out for kids is supposed to be a form of behavior modification by demonstrating a single consequence for undesired behavior. As a parent, I know the challenge involved in implementing consistency in discipline, so the idea of an innovative time-out timer that resets itself at the detection of noise and reinforces accomplishment with an audible cheering section could be promising. However, I was not terribly impressed with the user-friendliness of iTOT or its intuitiveness. Primarily, because once you start the timer, you can’t stop it at will.
If you decide to give iTOT – The Innovative Time-Out Timer a try, let me emphasize the importance of familiarizing yourself with the application before actually utilizing it in a real time-out situation. Be certain you set the timer to one minute instead of the default 20 before you press that “start timer” button. Also make sure that you turn the “Override Auto Sleep” setting to “on.” If you further decide to utilize the sound and movement sensors, keep in mind the LED display that is supposed to help you adjust those settings is pretty sensitive. If you turn the sound sensor all the way up and start the timer, it will reset itself if anyone in the room so much as breathes. I would advise trying it on the lowest setting and readjusting as necessary.
Keep in mind that while adjusting iTOT to your preferred settings, once you start the timer, it has to be able to count itself down to 0:00. Once it has finished, only then can you return to the settings menu by using a two-fingered tap, unless you’ve also set the password function to on. Either way, I can’t imagine why the two-fingered tap or password setting can’t be used to stop the timer at any point once it is started. There are numerous circumstances where you might want to stop the timer and start over again later– but you can’t.
While iTOT – The Innovative Time-Out Timer is a good idea in theory, in practice, it doesn’t provide enough control. It would be vastly improved with the simple ability to cancel the timer at any point the parent chooses. I like the idea of monitoring noise and an automatic reset if the child isn’t accepting their time-out quitely, I like the cheering section at the end, and I like the idea of being able to hand the device to the child so they can watch the time count down. It’s an effective timer with some special detailed features incorporated making it specific to time-outs, but it simply lacks some attention to the obvious.