I loves me some Mac apps that do more. I cherish the non-one trick pony. I savor the crescent wrench of Mac apps. I admire the utility infielders of software.
Tops on my list are those Mac apps that under promise and over deliver. Whatever they do, I want apps that do what they do without much user intervention to do it. I bring praise to the Mac apps that let me set it and forget it.
Judging Books By The Cover
We live in an era of instant gratification. We can browse tens of thousands of 99-cent apps on our iPhones. Mac apps with crummy web pages or weak icons get no respect, whether the actual apps are functionally worthy or not.
When is an alarm clock more than an alarm clock?
That’s the way it is with Alarm Clock Pro. See the icon above? It’s an alarm clock, right? Your Mac has a clock already. Do you need more? What good is an alarm clock other than to bother you when you don’t want to be bothered?
See? The book is being judged by the cover. Once the surface has been scratched, the book opened, the features examined, it becomes clear that Alarm Clock Pro is more than meets the eye—a package that is greater than the sum of the parts.
The Sum Of The Parts
What can an alarm clock do that would entice a Mac user to use it? Three words: types, tools, events. Alarm Clock Pro (ACP) has Alarm Types which set specific actions to run on specific dates, relative dates, weekly dates, dynamic dates, specific minutes past the hour, and timers.
Among the Alarm Tools in ACP which you can assign alarms are snooze alarms, exclusions (days the alarms won’t function), auto launch, iCal events and more.
Among the Alarm Events are simple tasks such as adjusting the system volume (#17), bringing ACP to the front of your Mac’s screen (#16), composing an email with specific information (#15), logging out your Mac session (#14), opening a file (#13), opening a URL in Safari (#12), running Unix shell commands (#11) or AppleScript actions (#10).
Wait? What’s happening?
Suddenly, we’ve gone from basic alarms to adding events and actions to an alarm time. There’s plenty of that in ACP. Play something in iTunes (#9), put your Mac to sleep (#8), quit or restart (#7), send messages (#6), capture a picture in iSight and email it (#5), shutdown (#4), take a screenshot (#3), or capture iSight camera photos (#2).
Alarm Clock Pro’s interface goes clearly beyond any alarm clock you’ve ever used on a Mac.
The Toolbar is at once familiar and friendly. Click the New alarm icon to set up a new function on a specific date and time.
ACP responds with a list of specific actions to attach to the date and time.
The Alarm Clock Assistant is a wizard that walks you through the options for each action (#1). This is where the men get separated from the boys, when the geeks are separated from mere users.
ACP assumes you know something about all those Actions on the list and what type of alarm to use. If you’re a Mac user who loves to tweak, twiddle, and diddle with settings and functionality, you’ll love Alarm Clock Pro. Otherwise, this is where the going gets confusing.
These are Preferences that true Mac geeks will love.
Ringing sets up ring enabled alarms without a specific future ring date (yes, you can do that). Exclusions sets up specific dates when you don’t want an alarm to run. Alarm Clock Pro is loaded with windows that set up or manage specific functions. ACP lets you start up with those windows (clutter alert).
This brings up a few functions that make Alarm Clock Pro part alarm clock, and part Frankenstein-like app monster, with a Windows-like personality (yes, there’s a Windows version).
For example, ACP supports using Apple’s Remote Control. Use it to raise or lower your Mac’s volume (speakers), snooze a specific alarm, or stop ringing whatever alarm is going off at the time.
That means you and your Remote Control must be near your Mac when the alarms go off. One major function of ACP is to control iTunes. That evokes a vision of iTunes and your Mac running in your bedroom. Ouch. Or, the living room (more likely).
Alarm Clock Pro does so much that it’s definitely valuable to me. But I have some complaints. Finding and using all the features and functions is cumbersome at best—a hallmark of Koingo Software’s wares. Features keep getting tacked on here and there to add value while decreasing usability.
Adding value is how app makers continue to charge for upgrades, and some of Koingo’s apps seem to need updating and upgrading frequently—with a price tag. Upgrades were once for a lifetime, but financial realities have set in. Still, ACP isn’t expensive and performs a laundry list of useful functions (I jest when I say there are 17) that will entice the Mac fiddle and tweak user.
Check out Alexis’ view of ACP from two years ago in How To Automate Mac Tasks With Alarm Clock Pro.