I've been on a roll with reviewing these iPhone and iPod Touch applications lately. There seem to be more everyday and each is a little different. Some provide custom timer options, others limit you to specified choices. How does Tea Timer by Decane fare?
Every tea timer application seeks to differentiate itself. In fact, it's the very point of writing the apps in the first place. There's something these developers believe they can improve upon versus their competition.
Most all of these application start out with some basic list screen. You've got your teas, boom! This application by Decane is no different in that regard.
What is different about their take on a Tea Timer application is their trend to keep it basic. There aren't any extra widgets or tabs. You've got timers and you run them. It's a wonderful example of practicing restraint from feature creep.
Tea Timer is also the only app I've reviewed so far which allows you to reorder your timers. It doesn't do it for you by alphabetical listing and it doesn't keep them in the order you create them. While I admit it's not the most important feature in the world, I have found myself enjoying the freedom to arrange my list as I see fit. It comes in handy when running a more structure tasting session for example.
The beauty of this interface is how it falls in line with Apple's own example with the Clock application. Not particularly novel, but instantly recognizable and simple for the user to figure out based on rudimentary experience with the iPhone and iPod Touch platform.
Creating a new timer is fairly standard. The on interesting option is that you can toggle whether a particular timer allows you to pause it. I'm not certain what circumstances would call for this feature, but it's an interesting one to have.
I think inviting the user to enter a "name" for their timer instead of "the display text" would have been more user friendly. It's a odd move considering the relative usability of the rest of the application.
Selecting the alarm sound takes you to another screen where you select the sound from a list of options. Oddly, none of these options are existing ringtones you may have and instead are custom sounds provided with the application. So if I should want to have "Katie's Tea" as my Tea Timer sound, I couldn't do that.
Also, when selecting a timer sound, running through the list seems to have an issue where when playing one sound then selecting another has the first sound continue playing. This is somewhat irksome especially if the first sound happens to annoy me greatly. Selecting another sound should kill the first, before playing the second.
Running a timer is pretty straight forward. You have the name of the tea, the time left on the timer, a restart button if needed and a picture of a stopwatch in the background. The stopwatch is a bit out of place seeing as you're running a timer, but the idea comes across properly and I doubt most users are as interface anal as I am.
Overall I would say $2 ($1.99) is a bit much for such a basic application but Tea Timer by Decane is a good effort to create a tea timer program for the iPhone. I still don't think it's perfect. There are certainly a few issues to fix and I could see room for some additional but still basic features.
- Can create custom timers
- Can reorder timers
- Can select a custom sound for each timer
- When selecting a timer sound it continues to play even after you select another
- You can't select an existing ringtone as a timer sound