The fact that the iPad never had its own built-in Clock app always seemed like a curious omission. After all, the iPhone has had one from the day it launched; I don’t know about you, but the iPhone’s alarm is what wakes me up every weekday morning.
In iOS 6, that strange exclusion ends, as the iPad now has its very own Clock app. Does this mean the App Store’s glut of third-party alarm clock apps has been Sherlocked now? Should developers of such apps start shaking in their shoes over Apple’s offering?
Hardly. The new built-in Clock app on the iPad satisfies only the most basic of user needs, and the user interface is such a weird hodgepodge of design elements that it almost feels like someone issued this as a challenge to an intern: “Here, go make a Clock app for the iPad. Don’t spend too much time on it.”
If you’re familiar with the Clock app on the iPhone, you’ll find few surprises here. The basic functions are the same: World Clock, Alarm, Stopwatch, and Timer.
World Clock is probably my favorite interface in this app and the only part of it that seems up to Apple’s usual design ethos. The design is rather evocative of old 1960s world clock designs, and basic weather info shows on the map for each city you add. Tapping on any of the clocks brings up a truly enormous, fullscreen clock like the one in this post’s main image.
The Alarm section of the app has a basic viewer at the top showing the time of any selected alarm. The bottom two-thirds shows a weekly viewer that will display any alarms you’ve set up. Strangely, alarms in this section aren’t draggable to new times, even though they totally look like something you should be able to tap and drag around. Setting up a new alarm uses a UI essentially identical to that on an iPhone. iPad (3) users can also use Siri to set up or view created alarms; this is usually my preferred method.
The Stopwatch portion of this app feels like the most ridiculous addition at first glance. I couldn’t come up with any ideas for actual use cases until someone told me it would be handy for coaches or other trainers for sports. The design for this portion looks almost nothing like its iPhone counterpart, and to me it just looks weird and hastily thrown together.
That thrown-together look persists in the Timer portion of the app, where once again UI elements from the iPhone have been pasted in and surrounded by strange, overly simplistic and not particularly engaging floating controls. Like the Alarm tab, all functions here can be set up with Siri commands on the iPad (3), and again that’s my preferred method of interacting with the timer.
If all you’re looking for in a clock app is the bare minimum, this built-in app for the iPad might suit you fine. But it’s certainly the least Apple-looking app I’ve seen from Apple in a while, and many aspects of its design just rubbed me the wrong way.