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Rise: My Mini-Review of an Unintentionally-Silent Alarm Clock

Rise is a new app for iOS that has a really nice design sense. This thing is gorgeous. The gesture controls are well thought out and generally it works well. That said, it does have some shortcomings concerning what you really need it for – waking you up.

I was really excited when I picked the app up - so excited I grabbed it on release day. I’ve always wanted to have something wake me up besides my blaring iPhone alarm and having the potential of a replacement, especially one that looked so good, was an inviting proposition. That said, I’ve had little to complain about regarding the built-in iPhone alarm. It has been rock solid for me since I started using it with my iPhone 1. I’ve never gotten up late for work due to an alarm SNAFU which is a pretty decent track record.

Rise allows for setting up repeating alarms, progressive alarms, pleasant sound effects and alarm songs/patterns and, going through the settings, I had high hopes that it would do what I needed it to do.

Luckily, I was able to press it into service during my vacation so if I woke up late it wasn’t going to be the end of the world. How did it go?

Three of the five mornings I used it, the app wasn’t able to rouse me from sleep. The most prevalent problem was that there was no noise at all. In fact, I am doubtful that it caused my phone to vibrate either. Curiously, I confirmed that the app was set to “vibrate” but, if it was vibrating, it was so quiet or brief that it didn’t get the job done. As a further insult, when I eventually woke up, I was met with several screens of notifications telling me it was time to wake up. Thanks, Rise…

Now, it’s certainly feasible that I was doing something wrong. But even if I was, alarms need to be a bulletproof, battle-tested thing and if I should have been doing something differently, then it wasn’t apparent. Remembering to put an app in the foreground and confirm everything before sleeping is something I haven’t had to deal with since… well since forever, so having to do it now isn’t something I want to deal with. The risk of a mess up is just too great at this point.

I realize that there are iOS development restrictions that prevent things like this from working as well as the actual iOS alarms. The hooks for the alarms have very deep integration into the operating system. That’s a disappointment because Rise has a lot going for it visually. Given the downsides, I’d avoid it for now.