Alarm clocks are great and all, but if you find yourself becoming immune to the repetitive noise they make or hitting ‘Sleep’ far too often, it might be time to look elsewhere to get you out of bed in the morning.
Awaken from Embraceware Software is a marvellous alarm clock app that lets you wake up to your choice of music or sound in a great interface, even if the application isn’t open and your computer is asleep. This review will look into what else this app can do.
Adding an Alarm
Upon opening Awaken, you are presented with a window displaying the current time and all of your alarms. Awaken lets you add alarms which play iTunes content, a built in sound, or trigger a task to run.
Setting up Alarms
￼Pressing the plus sign in the bottom left adds a new alarm. In the window that slides out, you can give your alarm a title, and decide whether you’d like it to play iTunes content, a sound, or run a task.
If you choose iTunes as I have below, you are then free to pick what you want to be played when the alarm goes off. This can be anything from a playlist or podcast, to movies and audiobooks. You can set this to shuffle, which is a very useful feature.
Setting up when you want the alarm to go off is very easy, and be done as either a weekly occurrence or a one off event. Ticking ‘Full Screen’ presents you with a full screen of the alarm, time, and song with all the impact and clarity you need on your computer while lying in your bed.
Finally, a clever feature is the ability to launch an item with the alarm. This may be that you want Mail to launch when you get out of bed, or it may be a script or other file. It can be more or less anything, but the problem is that you can only add one item per alarm, which seems like a bit of a drawback.
Adding an Alarm
The Alarm in Action
Something that I love about Awaken is that once you’ve set your alarm to go, it allows you to quit the application and even sleep your computer without worrying. When the time nears, Awaken will somehow wake up the computer and prepare itself. Then at the exact time of your alarm it will fire into action.
When your alarm launches, the screen will fade to a very clear display showing you the current time in a lovely big font that can easily be viewed when lying in bed across the room.
It also contains nice large cover art and information on what is playing, along with Snooze, Stop, and Next and Previous Track buttons.
Awaken also includes some other nice features to go alongside the normal alarm. One of which is an Egg Timer which is great for setting up quick and instant alarms. This works simply by setting a countdown, and what to play when the time is up.
Another even cooler feature is that of the Sleep Timer. This allows you have iTunes play for a specified period of time before gradually decreasing both the volume and screen brightness. Once the timer runs out, it can even put the Mac to sleep. This is perfect for lying in bed, listening to music as you drift off to sleep, with full confidence that the computer will go to sleep itself shortly.
Alternatively, you can just set the computer to go to sleep after a set time without the music.
One last feature worth mentioning is that, since you probably don’t have the Mac right next to you when you sleep, Awaken supports use of the Apple Remote for controlling your alarm from bed.
Awaken packs a great bunch of settings to play with in the preferences. These range from interface appearance tweaks to adding your own custom audio files to play.
Some features worth noting are the ability to set an iTunes and system volume for the alarms so that you aren’t caught out when the computer has been on mute. You can also ask it to gradually increase or decrease volume and screen brightness, and choose a backup alarm – just in case something goes wrong with iTunes.
Digging Into the Preferences
There exists a number of other applications out there which all serve a similar purpose but vary widely in their execution. Some offer many more features, others simplicity, and some are even free.
Have a look at this great roundup for a good comparison; 6 Alarm Clock Apps for OS X.
I have been very pleased with Awaken’s performance as an alarm to wake up to, as well as a tool for falling asleep. I can certainly see this great little app taking precedence over my bulky clock radio.
Awaken is available for a very fair $10 CAD (around $9.50 US) and can be downloaded for free as a 14 day trial. Please do let us know your thoughts on this app, or if you prefer something else!