Android Alarm

A problem I encounter daily is my inability to use the right function to turn my alarm off of my Android phone in the morning. While setting it has been easy, trying to get it to my preference of 'Snooze' or 'Off' while drowsy hasn't been so easy. A quick redesign of the interface could definitely solve my problem.

Challenge

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The interface on Android phone's clock app offers two options when an alarm goes off, swipe left for 'Snooze' and swipe right for 'Off'. Frequently I swipe the wrong direction either resulting in my alarm interrupting my morning routine or failing to sound if I have decided to take an extra 10 minutes in bed.

The distinction between 'Off' and 'Snooze' leaves lots of room for mistakes to be made. There needs to be a greater distinction between the two because swiping for 'Off' when you mean 'Snooze' can be a big problem. 

 

Research

This project, being a pet project, involved informal guerilla research. I casually interviewed 5 individuals with Android phones about their experience with the alarm app. All mentioned difficulty with the swipe feature in the morning, as well as the potential risk involved with making the wrong selection. It was also mentioned that there more risk associated with accidentally turning the alarm off when you meant to snooze, rather than snoozing when you meant to turn the alarm off. The information gathered was purely qualitative and attitudinal.

Informal interaction observations were also made. Tapping and swiping were the main actions for interaction with the devices' touch interface. Tapping and short swipes were the most common actions, whereas longer swipes such as that required to disable the alarm in app (or, for example, to Unlock an older iPhone model) were less common. 

Objective

Design a better interface for the Android clock app alarm feature that differentiates the 'Snooze' and 'Off' options, focusing on the difference of risk between the incorrect selection of either.

Audience

Smartphone users who rely on their devices as a alarm when waking. This could be students, office employees, shift workers, contractors, any other employee without a flexible schedule and parents. The research participants were a mixture of university students and professionals.

A persona was created based on the research, as the audience is quite large and the small sample of people I interviewed briefly was diverse in demographic despite commonality of behaviour and attitude toward the problem.

 

 

Competitors

Smartphones aren't the only device option for individuals needing help waking up. The jolt awake can be provided by alarm clocks with a large 'snooze' button and a small 'off' button, or it can be provided by another individual such as a parent, spouse or child. The second method is slightly less reliable than an alarm clock.

There are also multiple alarm apps available in the App Store and Google Play Store, and a wide variety of alarm clocks available on the market. Waking at the correct time is a problem many have tried to solve and this has lead to a plethora of options for people. 

 

Design Process

The concept was explored further by creating a storyboard of the user's actions.

User is asleep. User is woken by alarm. User, potentially in dark room, while still tired interacts with phone (potentially without looking) to turn off or snooze alarm.
Snooze scenario: User snoozes alarm, returns to sleep and repeats process again when alarm sounds for a second (or additional) time. 

Solution

I designed an interface which requires the user to swipe right to turn off the alarm, but 'snooze' can be done simply by tapping the screen. After 'snoozing' the screen remains on for a short period to allow the user to easily change the alarm to 'Off' if they have woken up.

There is less risk in 'snoozing' accidentally, and having to turn off your alarm a couple minutes later. As such I have  made it more effort to turn off the alarm. This is to prevent the user from turning the alarm off accidentally.

Retrospective

This project remains in the design phase as it was done personally in my own time. I would still like to prototype the app changes and test with individuals. This project would be better suited to a longitudinal and potentially ethnographic testing, as the context of us is not something we can imitate in a lab.

In additional, the preliminary research that was done was more basic and guerilla. I would love to have access to any analytics data from the Android Clock app to see patterns of behaviour, and I would like to spend more time doing more anthropological research or even have participants in a diary study to monitor their current behaviour to gain insight into their app usage and any problems which they currently face.