Time – it passes. Whether we like it or not, time’s inexorable progress cannot be stopped. So the least we can do is measure it, right? This morning I went in search of interesting Android apps for doing just that. I don’t mean just kitchen timers, although I did find a few nice ones. I also mean tools for tracking longer periods of time, slicing time into custom bits and pieces, and more.
Ovo: As Minimalistic As They Come
There’s an old quote attributed to Antoine de Saint Exupéry – “it seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away“. The Ovo user interface embodies this quote and creates a user experience that is, for lack of a better term, drop-dead elegant.
To start Ovo, just touch the screen and start rotating your finger clockwise, as if winding a clock. The middle of the circle will show how much time you’re setting it for. You can get to the exact amount of time you want to count down from with a quick circle motion, or keep moving your finger in circles to increase the countdown duration (up to 60 minutes). Once you’ve set it, let go of the screen, and Ovo starts counting.
In truth, there is no way to do this app justice with a text description. It’s free – get it, try it, and you’ll be hooked.
Kitchen Timer: All Utility, All The Time [No Longer Available]
Kitchen Timer may lack Ovo’s studied elegance, but it has other assets. A memorable name (that’s important!) and three different timers that can run at the same time. Like Ovo, Kitchen Timer is free. You can also configure presets and give them names, so if you always like to make hard-boiled eggs for exactly 5:37 minutes, that’s no problem for Kitchen Timer. Also, you can set Kitchen Timer for much longer intervals than Ovo – Ovo maxes out at 60 minutes, and Kitchen Timer can easily track up to 23:59:59.
The only thing I missed in Kitchen Timer is saving per-timer settings: When you tap Timer 2 (for example) the duration in the textboxes below doesn’t change. I wish the duration would reflect the timer’s current duration, or (better yet) the last duration you set it for.
Energy Timer: For Ramen Aficionados
Our last kitchen timer for this roundup, Energy Timer is aimed at fans of Ramen and other types of noodles. It has a single timer and can track up to nine minutes, but it provides multiple alarms before the timer runs out. This means you can set it even for a time-sensitive kitchen task, walk away from the stove, and rest assured it will call you back with time to spare before the moment of truth (also known as the moment you take the noodles off the fire).
Like Kitchen Timer, Energy Timer lets you create your own presets, and you can even attach photos to them, presumably of ramen types that go well with each preset.
Shush: To Stop Missing Calls
Much like Ovo, Shush! is a study in elegance. This isn’t a kitchen timer, though: It’s a “ringer timer.” Its sole purpose in life is to unmute your phone a while after you’ve muted it. Have you ever went into a meeting or a movie and muted your phone, only to realize six hours later that you forgot to un-mute it and have five missed calls and a bunch of worried text messages from your mom and/or significant other wondering where you are? If that scenario sounds familiar, Shush! is what you need.
You don’t even have to launch Shush! manually. It kicks in as soon as you lower the phone’s volume down to mute. Swipe across the radial menu to increase or decrease the interval, or tap the left side of the circle to decrease, and the right to increase. An app that tries to do just one thing, and does it perfectly.
Ubuntu Countdown Widget: It Does Almost Nothing, But Does It Well
The silliest app in this roundup is definitely the Ubuntu Countdown Widget, but I love Ubuntu (and I am not the only one) so I’ve decided to share it. Since Ubuntu Linux has a regular release schedule, it’s easy to predict when the next release is coming. This widget will not let you forget the date.
If you’re a dedicated Ubuntu user, or thinking of switching, this is a nice one to have. The widget comes in two sizes (1×1 and 2×2), and two color schemes (light and dark). Not much more to ask for here, really.
Smart Timer: The Powerhouse
Smart Timer is the only app on this roundup which isn’t free – it costs $1. It isn’t elegant or slick, doesn’t have a widget, does not use cool swiping gestures to do stuff, and is generally as workmanlike as apps come. So, why feature it? Because it’s damn powerful, that’s why. All of the other timers here just count down time. Kitchen Timer lets you keep track of three timers, but that’s about it. Smart Timer kicks things up to another level, letting you set up and nest complex chains of timers following each other, each with its own alert settings.
If you do anything like kettlebell resistance training, weight training, interval running, or meditation, you know that sometimes counting down five minutes just doesn’t cut it. You may want to repeat a two-minute set three times, with a 15-second break in between sets. Or maybe you want to plan an entire session and be confident that it will take exactly 45 minutes, and lay it out in advance. Whatever your complex timing scenario is, Smart Timer can handle it.
The only thing I feel it’s really missing is a built-in “break” setting. I wish there was a way to define a two-minute timer which repeats three times with a 10 seconds break between each repeat. Instead, you will have to configure six different timers. Then again, you will only have to do that once and you’ll be set.
A Call For A Timer: Do You Know Such An App?
When researching this post, I wanted to find one thing and simply couldn’t – I wanted a timer that supports speech recognition. Something to which I could say, “Count down five minutes,” and it would just count down the time. That could be great for the kitchen, when my hands are messy and I still need a timer.
Do you know of something like this? Share it in the comments, and if it will amaze me, I might even put it into our Best Android Apps list.