Remember how useful those kitchen timers where, the ones that you had to spin around to get them counting? They could be used for a lot of things outside the kitchen, and they were very fast and easy to setup. It seems like we haven’t been able to get the same thing working for a computer app, where you can just quickly set an alarm in a few seconds without a million options or setup steps to get in the way.
Today we’re reviewing an app that wants to your go to fast timer and alarm app. It’s called ChronoSlider. Does it deliver?
This is probably the easiest app that you could pick up, you surely will only need to spend 3 seconds to figure it out. The first time that you run it, your whole screen will be sent to the background and a semi-transparent screen with a notable timer in the center will appear with a few instructions on the sides. The instructions will be arranged into short sentences located in specific parts of the screen (the top, bottom, center, left and right sides).
The instruction in the top will say “click in this area if you want to set an alarm for up to 120 seconds”. The other ones will be the same thing but broken into ranges of 1 hour, 12 hours, “daytime” and cancel. We’ll get to these next.
So let’s say you are cooking something and you need to be reminded of when to turn the heat off. You can set ChronoSlider on by using the customizable shortcut, or by going into the menu bar icon of the app and clicking on the “Add Alarm” button.
The screen that we mentioned before will come up with the instructions (the instructions will go away after a few times that you access the alarm-setting thing, though). As you hover or slide your cursor over the different sectors of the screen, the timer in the center will change. So let’s say, if you are in the “0-1 hour” sector, as you hover over the area the timer will be changing in between minutes, starting at 1 and ending at 60. It’s not the most precise way of choosing a time, but it’s fast and it saves a lot of time.
The sector of the 120 seconds range will switch between seconds; the 0-1 hour range will switch between minutes and the 12 hour range will switch between hours. The “daytime alarm” area is the most interesting one, because it lets you set an alarm for any minute within the next 24 hours. This is the one you would use if you wanted to set an alarm that wakes you up in the morning or reminds you of an appointment you have the next day. There’s also a “cancel” section in the top, in case you don’t really want to set an alarm or timer.
Messages, Chronoslings and More
After you choose the time of your alarm or timer, the timer in the center will switch to a message saying “Slide!”. If you slide, a few messages will appear, such as “Feed the cat!”, “Go get the bus”, “Play iTunes” or just a plain boring “Alarm”. These are the messages that will appear on your screen once the alarm sets off, and you can only choose one per alarm. There are some default messages that come with the app, like the ones I mentioned, but if you go into the settings you can make your own and delete the factory ones.
There are also “Chronoslings”, which are basically Applescripts that you can set to certain alarms. There are already some of them built in to some factory alarms, like “Sleep” and “Pause/Play iTunes”. You can make pretty much anything you want with these, but you need to have some knowledge as to how to use them properly (the app won’t tell you how, but this article can).
There are also some useful hidden things like the ability to play sounds, dimming the screen once you set off the app, and setting a global keyboard shortcut to set off the app. By going into the menu bar icon, you can access the settings, view your current alarms and refresh or cancel them.
Surprisingly, there really isn’t much to complain about in this app. When I first heard about it, I thought it would be too basic and that it would sacrifice a few features in order to make the app simpler and faster, but that really isn’t the case. However, sometimes it feels like you need to work your way around (perhaps) complex AppleScripts to get at what you want it to perform, like maybe play a song from your library, but the functionality is there.
We’ve had roundups of alarm apps before, and they usually break down into two categories: the ones that are meant to work on a short range of time, like something that you need to be quickly reminded of within an hour or so; and the more complete and complex ones that are meant to be used within a larger range of time and do more complex stuff like wake you up using your iTunes library or play slideshows.
I think this app does a good job at balancing both of those. It’s simple enough that you can set a new alarm in just a few seconds, but also useful enough that if you want it to perform something complicated, you can most likely do it through the AppleScripts. All the features that you could want are there, they’re just not as “out” there as they are in other apps. I think for the price, you couldn’t really get something as useful and simple as this app, especially when the competition is really overpriced. I know I’ll be using it instead of my “Minutes” widget from now on.