If my Pixel & my iPhone alarm apps had a baby, it would be the perfect msahher🥁🌙

a fun UX/UI Case Study

Hanan A.S.
May 16, 2019 · 6 min read
A msahher is the person walking around the streets with a drum, singing, waking people up in time to grab a bite before they start fasting for the day

This was literally my only major thought on the first day of Ramadan. I own an iPhoneX now and really like the alarm app but I used to love the alarm behavior on my late Pixel (RIP habibi😢).

I think there’s something great in both experiences that we can combine to create the perfect alarm clock.

we will be discussing two screens: setting an alarm & stopping one.

Setting an Alarm — Accessibility & System Feedback

pixel screens — setting an alarm

So as the screen above shows; the Pixel let me see all my alarms and edit any one I choose right on the same screen 👏🏻

it’s pretty organized, you can see all you need to see within a small area of the screen, and rarely does any action require more than one tap.

Only negative is that there is no option to turn off snooze. You can only shorten snooze time. I mean most people will indeed go back to sleep, but I don’t think google should rob them of the ability to set an alarm without snoozing option. If they do end up sleeping in, it’s their fault, not Google’s.

As for iOS, here’s how it goes on my iPhone X:

iOS screens — setting/editing an alarm

So you see, Apple does a beautiful job (like always) in terms of setting one purpose for each screen. It really is a delight to look at. But that design forces users to go back and forth between main and inner screens in order to set a simple alarm.

On the other hand, I love the level of user control they offer by allowing people to switch snooze option on & off.

system feedback — what happens when a user sets an alarm

pixel lock screen with an upcoming alarm❤

my Pixel used to show an alarm icon on status bar (system feedback) once I set my alarm, and shows when is the next alarm on lock screen. I really really like the sudden relief I feel when I wake up an hour or so before the alarm and see that I still have time to sleep some more!

That convenient behavior does not exist on my iPhone X.

Nothing happens when I set the alarm except that it shows in the alarms list. I don’t see anything on my lock screen, no icon on status bar thanks to the notch, no nothing. Not even a small toast message 😢

Or maybe it’s just me being weird and Apple hides the info on purpose to let people sleep in peace without stressing out about how many hours are left 🤷🏻‍♀️

Snooze / Stop an alarm — i’m up plz be quiet 🥺

❤️Now when the alarm goes off on the current iOS, you get the screen above with alarm label displayed in large typography, big fat orange snooze button and a small stop button on the bottom if you activate snooze when you set the alarm. Otherwise you get a screen with alarm label and a big fat orange close button.

I love how empathy works here.

Someone who chooses to activate snooze is someone who has trouble waking up. They hit snooze a few times before their brain is really awake, so it makes sense that the snooze button stands out like that. When they are awake enough to stop it, they’ll notice the stop button. Bravo Apple 👏🏻

The Pixel experience is different though…

What? which is..?Oh be quiet already!

On the other hand, pixel displays a circle that you swipe right to stop, left to snooze. As a designer, I understand that people learn behaviors and mental models and apply them automatically in time. But the stop & snooze have the same level of emphasis in this design, it isn’t like picking up a call. I think people will be confused.

If you’re going to force people to have snooze, make it stand out. It’s the safest option.

I have to decipher symbols at 3:00 AM, awesome

Also, the icons have no labels. Think of a half-asleep person who is using the app for the first time, they just see two similar actions by the looks of them, and no text labels. How are they supposed to decide whether swiping right or left is what they want right now?

Maybe Google wanted people to wake up so they can make the right decision, that’s why they removed labels…but if they’re awake already, why do they need snooze?🤔

Swipe?

Most importantly, users must swipe to stop the alarm. That really needs someone to be awake enough to do it. Not someone still half awake half in La La Land. I’m a very light sleeper but have absolutely no sense of coordination, meaning I’ll be fumbling like a baby deer just learning to walk when I wake up. So can you not make me do a muscle action requiring high dexterity, please? thank you.

And if they chose swiping to prevent tapping by mistake, couldn’t they just have added a big snooze button? that’ll guarantee that no user will unintentionally turn off the alarm when they tap the button by accident.

Their Baby⏰🐣

So how would the perfect alarm app behave?

In my humble opinion as a designer, and as a user who really misses her Pixel and really really needs to wake up at 3:20 AM, I propose the following design:

Setting an alarm

I obviously like the original UI. All I did was group elements according to purpose and make snooze optional.

Speaking of snooze/stop, I’m with iOS wholeheartedly…

snooze / stop an alarm

Made label shine because I think if I wake up before the crack of dawn there’d better be a good purpose for that. Time comes last in this UI’s visual hierarchy, but it’s ok since users can see it big and clear once they stop/snooze the alarm.

I’m sure lots and lots of real research and testing efforts went into designing these apps and I’m not judging the design teams’ choices. But I’m just a user who happens to be an experience designer and I felt that I have something to say about both current experiences.🤷🏻‍♀️

Between work and Ramadan it took 10 days to write this but it was fun :) what are your thoughts?

Lots of love! Ramadan kareem! #keepdesigning

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