Waking up can be one of the biggest struggles of the day, for it seems you become the most comfortable right before the alarm is set to go off. However, The Gentle Alarm by Craft AG seems to promise users a seamless way to move from REM sleep to a lighter phase of sleep, waking you up when you are most receptive. With said function, users will supposedly wake up more refreshed and alert, reducing your cortisol levels by waking you more smoothly and naturally. And though this concept sounds ever so attractive and promising, the jolting sounds may have you waking up perplexed (and vexed) instead of gently.
The Gentle Alarm begins by presenting a checklist, which actually closely resembles a list of do’s and don’ts. The application warns you that it must be running in the foreground for it to work properly. If you exit the application, the alarm will not go off, though you can turn off the display like normal and still have the alarm function as it should. You should also be sure not to mute your device. Instead, pump the volume up to 100 percent (and be sure to turn off those email and text message alerts, for if you get any during the middle of the night, you will surely be awoken prematurely). You must also be sure to keep your phone in the same place every night so you will “adapt” to the process effectively. You just better hope there’s an outlet nearby, for you should also connect your device to a power source so you don’t drain the battery and have it shut off in the middle of the night.
Once you finally reach the main page, you will see a string of icons strewn across the bottom of the screen. The first, a gear icon, is where you will go to edit your settings. Here, you can turn the alarm on and off, set the alarm time, reset your adaptation status, review the checklist and send friends a recommendation email. No matter how many times I try to decipher the App Store description, I will never comprehend this “adaptation” business, and you will rarely (if ever) use the recommendation button. That is, unless you’re out for revenge.
The bell icon indicates whether the alarm is active or not. If you have turned the alarm on, it shall appear dark blue. If the alarm is off, it will blink red. The plug icon works in a similar way, blinking red if your device is not connected to an outside power source, while the speaker icon will blink red if your volume is not up to 100 percent. (Though it might be worth the incessant blinking once you get an earful of those “gentle” wake up sounds.)
Though The Gentle Alarm supposedly starts out softly, gradually easing you out of your deep sleep and into a waking state, there is a point when the application begins emanating gong-like sounds that jolt you (and anyone who shares your sleeping space). Sharing a room with two other people, each were woken up by my experiment with the alarm, one by the gong-like sounds, the other, by the sound that follows the actual sounding of your alarm — a sound that closely resembles a slew of emergency vehicles zooming through your room. Considering each was at a different level of sleep, these light sleepers shared in my distaste for the abrupt wake up. Perhaps 100 percent volume should not be a requirement, but a suggestion, for our walls are thin and I can only imagine the neighbors weren’t too thrilled with my alarm that day as well.
The Gentle Alarm [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.