iPhone’s Clever Alarm Clock

It’s of course cliche to use Apple as an example of good design, but I’m going to do it anyway. In Designing for Interaction, one of the characteristics of good interaction design I called out was clever. Clever design anticipates users’ needs and designs a solution for it before the user even knows it is an issue. One tiny detail in the iPhone’s alarm clock illustrates this perfectly.

It’s no secret that alarm clock functionality is one of the most-used functions on any mobile phone. Outside of actually making a call and putting the phone on/off mute, it might even be the next most used functionality, so attention should be paid to it. Apple has, and here is the tiny detail I love on the iPhone’s alarm clock.

When you go to set an alarm, the iPhone provides you with a list of previous alarms, all of which are turned off as a default. If you edit one of those alarms, when you return back to the list view, the newly-edited alarm is automatically turned on. The user doesn’t have to manually switch the alarm on because the designer understood that if you are bothering to edit an alarm, you probably want it turned on. It’s clever, and kudos to the designer who thought of it.

It’s a tiny moment that saves, oh, three seconds of time, but how often are these sorts of small details not thought out, causing thousands of moments of lost time? And perhaps a missed alarm?