It’s hard to think about many apps that would be less controversial than a timer. I mean, really, how much more innocuous could you get? And yet, when I wrote about Ovo, some users were quick to point out its limitations. Personally, I love Ovo, and I think its limitations actually make it better. But what if you like the minimalist aesthetic, yet absolutely require multiple timers and time spans longer than an hour? The simply-named Timer app might be what you need.
Timers Should Be Simple
That’s really the single greatest factor in a timer, for me. A timer should not be tricky to use, and should just do the work and stay out of the way. If you use the Web, you might find simplicity in a timer such as e.ggtimer, where you set the parameters as part of the URL. If it’s an iOS timer you need, Wave Timer seems rather simple. As for Android, well, read on and decide for yourself.
A Confident Newcomer
Timer for Android hasn’t been on Google Play for very long, but it already costs money. Not much, granted, but even its modest $1 price tag is more than most developers feel comfortable charging in the competitive world of Android apps (and it’s more than Ovo costs). One possible explanation for this is that Timer is part app and part showcase project by design studio Opoloo. So, what do you get for your $1?
In a nutshell: Multiple timers of up to 24 hours each, and a thoroughly Holo experience.
Setting a Timer
Tap the top-right corner to start a new countdown:
Much like Ovo, you set the initial timer interval by dragging your finger along the circumference of a circle. There’s a trick here: The minutes are selected by default, but if you drag clockwise, you instantly get to 1:00:00 (one hour). To set a value of less than an hour, you must drag counter-clockwise (and counter-intuitively).
After you set the desired interval, you can also set a label for your timer. This is important when you have several timers ticking concurrently. Start the timer, and a system notification shows up with the current countdown:
One notable omission when compared to Ovo is the lack of speech recognition. There’s no microphone icon, so the only way to set a timer is by touching the screen.
One nice feature is being able to save your timers for future use:
Each timer is shown with its initial duration, along with a label. So you can have a bunch of common timers (i.e, one for the laundry, and one for cooking an egg just right), and start any one of them with two taps. Two, not one, because you first have to select it and then tap Start.
In general, if you’re used to Ovo’s single-touch interface, you’ll find yourself interacting with the screen much more to get Timer to do what you want.
Surprises and Drawbacks
Timer has a couple of interface quirks that make the user experience feel less than consistent:
- You need to swipe counter-clockwise to set an initial interval of less than one hour, and it’s very easy to accidentally set a timer for too long (1:10 rather than 0:10).
- The software back button, found on the top-left corner of the app, behaved erratically. When tapping on a system notification to get back into the timer, pressing Back should take you into the timer overview screen. Instead, it kicks you out of the app.
Timer is a beautiful demo of what a Holo-themed app should look like. If you really need multiple timers and time-spans longer than an hour, it’s a viable option. You’d have to learn to work around its annoyances, but it does look slick.