For those of us not cursed with the morning-people-gene, waking up is an "alarming" ritual. It's a rough transition from snoring to swearing to snoozing to finally getting out of bed. Tranquil Alarm, who's goal is to help users "Wake Up Happy," is an iPhone app that wants to ease the transition from sleep to wake.
With version 2.0 — in the App Store now — the folks at Mobile App Center have listened to user feedback and made Tranquil Alarm more useful than ever. If most alarms are noisy, shrieking beasts that attack unwitting sleepers, then Tranquil Alarm is the gentle breath of kittens coaxing you to wake up and play.
Tranquil Alarm has 55 different soothing sounds such as: acoustic guitar, birds in the city, celtic flute, chinese wires, distant chime, drums, energy guitar, funk, rooster, tibetan bowl, the aptly named wake-up music. These unique options appear alongside the obligatory sounds of relaxation: forest rain, beach waves, crickets and birds, thunder and various colors of noise (pink noise, brown noise).
Tranquil Alarm works just like you would expect an alarm or clock radio to work. Choose a wake-up sound, set a time and the alarm will sound at the appointed time. You can choose to snooze a bit longer with a customizable snooze time or dismiss the alarm to turn it off.
In keeping with its goal of promoting relaxation, Tranquil Alarm also works backwards. Set the timer and listen to your chosen sound loop for any length of time. This is great if you want to use it to fall asleep or keep tabs on your meditation session.
Personally, I use Tranquil Alarm as a timer for work sessions. Set it for 45 minutes and when the sounds go silent it's time to step away from the computer for a short break. The loops are relaxing enough that I can listen without becoming distracted.
The feature that really sets Tranquil Alarm apart from the other alarm/sound machine apps is the ability to record. With the voice recorder, you can use Tranquil Alarm to rise each morning to your baby's giggle, or send a wake-up message with the kids to camp. (I can also see Tranquil Alarm being used for more than one practical joke!)
Use Tranquil Alarm's record function to create a loop of any ambient noise that you find relaxing. Then listen later and re-create your own personal bubble of sound. It's yet another way to use iPhone to customize your environment.
The look of the clock is pretty utilitarian. You can choose the color and font for the display. But, I'd like to be able to customize the clock face with a background photo. Since I use this app as a clock during work hours, it spends a lot of time on my desk. Propped up in a little frame, it would look nice if I could choose a relaxing photo to accompany my sounds. For nighttime use, I love that the screen can be dimmed or brightened with a simple swipe of the finger.
As an alarm, this app performs perfectly. The sound options provide a welcome alternative to the typical jarring (and unpleasant) alarm sound. However, not all the loops transfer as well to the timer side of the app. Tones such as "wind chimes" and the rain options are lovely and work for long stretches of relaxing background noise. Others, such as some of the guitar tracks, are great for alerts but the loop is too short to listen to on repeat for more than a few minutes. Luckily, with 55 sounds to choose from this isn't too much of a problem!
After just 3 days of testing, Tranquil Alarm has already earned itself a spot among my most used apps. It combines the features of an alarm, a clock, a sound machine and a personal message recorder all into one useful application.