App Name: Wake N’ Shake
Rating: 1 of 5 stars
Summary: Deeply flawed design for alarm setting, poor fundamental functionality = quickest download-delete time ever.
I downloaded this app for free thanks to the generous geniuses over at AppsGoneFree, which gives you access to normally non-free apps for free. You have 24 hours to download their daily picks and if you do, you have those apps for free. If you miss out, the apps go back to their full price and you’re out of luck.
Anyway, I downloaded Wake N’ Shake to give it a try after I hit my snooze button one too many times. Sound familiar? If not, you’re probably doing fine and can go do something else. If you’re a normal human being though, feel free to read on.
The Most Annoying Wake-Up Experience Ever- By Design
The interface has three panes which you can access by swiping left and right: the alarm pane, a social pane, and the alarm setting pane.
First, the alarm pane. The app starts by introducing you to its primary mechanic for rousing you from your slumber: it requires you to shake your device vigorously until a red meter fills the screen from bottom to top. The more you shake, the more the meter fills. This process takes about 15 seconds, though it might take longer if you’re groggy or disoriented. The theory is that the repetitive motion of shaking your device to turn off the annoying sounds will stimulate your brain enough to wake up. Fair enough.
Keeping Score: Wake-Up Streaks with Friends
The design of the social pane allows you to compete with friends (via Facebook login) on who can wake up the most. By tapping icons at the top of this pane, you can view the weekly ladder and achievements which track how well you and your friends wake up. This information isn’t really that compelling if you’re not a college kid, but one star for incorporating accountability into good habit formation I suppose.
(Trying to) Set the Alarm: Is this a bad dream, or an app user’s nightmare?
Lastly, there’s the pane for setting your alarm. Theoretically, you set the desired minutes by swiping up and down over the minutes section [1:XX]. The design was a little strange since you could only see a portion of the minutes digits scrolling up and down. In fact, I had to swipe a little to the right and back to the left to discover whether or not I was selecting 05 or 25. Irritating, but maybe the designers wanted something a little off the beaten track.
One would expect that you would set the desired hour the same way. Apparently, the designers had other ideas. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 were the only hour numerals available. Hmm, maybe I was tapping the wrong place. Let’s try a little to the left… no. To the right… nope. What if I wanted to set an alarm for 6:00 AM or 10:00 PM? Apparently, in the designers’ world the only hours worth setting an alarm for are between 1 and 5 AM or 1 and 5 PM.
By now I was pretty annoyed. Maybe the designers wanted to make this process intentionally difficult as a way to stimulate your thinking, but as far as I know, most people set an alarm while awake before sleeping, not as part of the wake-up process.
This was by far the most frustrating app I’d ever used, and is a classic example of when designers value user interface (UI) design over user experience (UX). The two are not synonymous.
The user interface of the social pane was clean and consistent, but the app’s most fundamental functionality (setting the alarm) was deeply flawed and made for a confusing, frustrating experience. The designers may have designed a positive social reinforcement structure for making sure Wake N’ Shake users get up when they need to, but I didn’t even explore that because I couldn’t set an alarm when I needed to- you know, the whole reason for an alarm app! Besides, I would never trust a developer with my Facebook login information (required to activate Wake N’ Shake’s social features) if they couldn’t demonstrate to me that the core functionality of their app worked well.
In the end, the app lived on my device for about 2 minutes. Wake N’ Shake was designed to motivate its users to do positive things, but the only thing it motivated me to do was delete it quickly and spend 8 times as long writing this review. Well, if my experience helps others save their money, avoid this app, and design better software I guess those are positive things.
What are your thoughts?