Skeuomorphic is a dirty word at Apple HQ nowadays, which is to say, Apple dislikes apps that pretend to look like actual things out in the real world. However, regardless of this we rather like Alarm Clock HD, which models its look and feel almost perfectly on a bedside clock radio.
You'll probably want to run the app in landscape orientation because portrait mode means an always-visible ad is shown (79p removes this via an in-app purchase). Landscape mode not only means the ad vanishes but also allows the best emulation of a genuine clock radio display. Cleverly, the app deactivates the iPhone's Auto Lock setting, meaning that it keeps the iPhone awake for as long as it's running. In other words, set up your iPhone on your bedside table or on your desk while it charges, then switch to the app, and it'll stay active until you manually sleep your phone or switch to a different app. It's very neat.
The display is totally authentic recreation of an LED time display and a really lovely touch is the faint outline of the segments of each numeral that aren't active - just like on a real LED display. Swiping left or right on the display lets you adjust the brightness, which is ideal for avoiding being blinded in the dark.
Of course, this being an app connected to the internet, the clock radio LED display has magical abilities. Alongside showing the battery charge of your phone, it tells you what the weather is, for example, and will also scroll through news headlines beneath the time display. Via the settings panel you can also tune into your Twitter feed, so that updates from friends appear within the list. RSS feeds from websites can also be shown via a Feedly account.
Alas, this part of the display is limited to just two lines, with a line above declaring who made the posting (or the source of the headline), so you're only going to see the first sentence or two of a tweet - and nothing at all if they've posted a video or image without a description. It's a nice feature nonetheless. The scrolling headlines disappear after five minutes, so that they stop being a distraction as you head off to sleep.
Tapping the screen at the top and then tapping the torch icon activates torch mode. As you might expect this activates the LED flash, avoiding the need to open the Control Centre should you need a night-time visit to the loo, but the screen is also turned entirely white to provide even more illumination. Shaking the phone or double-tapping the screen turns off the torch.
You can set alarms by tapping the icon at the top right, and alarms can be set to repeat (don't forget to unmute the device before going to sleep). There's also a sleep timer that lets you play music before fading it out after a certain amount of time has passed. So you can drift off to the Land of Nod. Again, we rather liked the authentic recreation of bedside alarm clock buzzers for the alarm tones.
The settings panel lets you modify just about any element of the display, including hiding the seconds update, which might be distracting.
Alarm Clock HD is a classy app that does everything you might need if you're not happy with the built-in iOS alarm function. Use it in landscape mode and it's essentially free, with no requirement to pay up to remove the ads.
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