Rise: A Minimal & Intuitive Alarm Clock

When I take a moment to think about the number of devices my iPad and iPhone have replaced, it’s quite impressive. With these two devices I no longer need an MP3 player, camera, camcorder, GPS device, voice recorder, flashlight, calendar, calculator, dictionary, notepad, address book or guitar tuner. Another device that my iPad has replaced is nearly everyone’s least favorite device — the alarm clock.

I’ve tried third-party alarm clock apps like Alarm Clock HD and iHome+Sleep, but found the first-party Clock app provided a better overall experience. With that said, Rise Alarm Clock by Simplebots recently caught my eye with its gorgeous design and intuitive interface, and I wondered if it could be my go to alarm clock app. Find out the answer to that question after the jump.

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Setting Alarms

When you launch Rise initially and progress through the tutorial, you’ll find yourself on the main screen. The time displayed on the screen isn’t the current time, which is instead displayed in a smaller font at the top by the alarm time. By swiping up and down anywhere on screen the alarm time changes, as does the gradient background color that is reminiscent of the iPhone weather app Solar (you can see a demo of the effect here). While most third-party alarm clock apps are content with using iOS’s baked in time wheel to set alarm times, I can’t help but appreciate Simplebots’ unique approach for accomplishing this task.

The gradient color changes to correspond with the time of day.

The gradient color changes to correspond with the time of day.

When selecting the alarm time it’s important to keep in mind how dates are affected. If you select any time before the current time (e.g. 8 a.m. if it’s 10 a.m.), the alarm will be set for the following day. If you select any time after the current time (e.g. 12 p.m. if it’s 10 a.m.), the alarm will be set for the same day.

Once you’ve selected a time you can make adjustments in five minute intervals by tapping either above or below the alarm time. At the bottom you’ll find a gear icon that when tapped opens the settings menu, which allows you to select one of 13 alarm sounds (or a track from your music library); turn on options for a progressive alarm, repeat alarm or a dimmed alarm screen; and change the default snooze duration. When you’ve made your adjustments, turning on the actual alarm is performed simply by swiping left or right on the main screen.

Each alarm sound is unique, so there should be an option for just about everyone.

Each alarm sound is unique, so there should be an option for just about everyone.

Alarm Screen & Clock Mode

After turning on the alarm, Rise transitions into alarm screen mode, which removes the colorful gradient background in favor of a dark gray design. The amount of time until the alarm is scheduled to sound is displayed below the alarm time, which can be a handy if not sometimes depressing bit of information to have. If desired, you can adjust the alarm time — again in five minute intervals — by tapping the – or + icons.

The alarm screen.

The alarm screen.

Three icons are spread along the bottom of the screen, which include options (going from left to right) to create a sleep playlist with tracks from your music library, adjust the volume slider (the alarm sound will play as you increase and decrease the volume) and turn on the repeating alarm option. After 15 seconds of inactivity in the alarm screen the app will automatically transition to clock mode (also accessed by tapping the clock icon at the top), which displays the current time in big numbers set against a beautiful, blue gradient background. If you need to turn off a set alarm, you can do so by again swiping left or right.

Like the rest of the app, clock mode is simple and easy on the eyes.

Like the rest of the app, clock mode is simple and easy on the eyes.

Interacting With Alarms

The manner in which the alarm sounds in Rise depends on what you do once the alarm has been set. If you leave your iPad on to enjoy the clock mode, you can either snooze the alarm when it sounds by tapping the rather small snooze text displayed below the alarm time, or swipe left or right to turn off the alarm. If you prefer to put your iPad to sleep after setting the alarm, you can activate the snooze feature by unlocking your device (a tad tedious if you’re half awake and need to enter a passcode).

It may be difficult to hit that snooze text when you're half awake.

It may be difficult to hit that snooze text when you’re half awake.

If you utilize Do Not Disturb mode on your iPad it’s important that you keep Rise in the foreground (i.e. do not press the Home button before putting the iPad to sleep). If Rise is in the background Do Not Disturb will prevent a notification from sounding the alarm goes off.

The Bottom Line

When I first began using Rise it didn’t take long to realize that Simplebots really put a lot of effort into the app’s design and functionality. Rise is simple, elegant and very intuitive, which are not traits easily accomplished for many app developers and designers. However, if you’re a fan of listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts that are not in your music library, you may be disappointed to learn that Rise kills any background audio.

So, to answer the question posed in the introduction, is Rise my go to alarm clock app? As much as I enjoy the design and intuitive controls, there are features in Clock I find I can’t do without. For instance, I like being able to select specific days for repeating alarms (e.g. Monday-Friday for workdays), and creating multiple alarms so I don’t have to delete previously created alarms. Also, I like seeing the alarm icon displayed in the status bar, which provides a visual cue that the alarm is ready to go.

Do all of my personal preferences for Clock mean that Rise is an inferior alarm clock app? Not in the least. Rise is designed to be minimal and intuitive, which it is in spades. Simplebots could have included multiple alarm support and allow users to select specific days for repeat alarms, but they choose to create a beautiful alarm clock app that anyone can use with ease. For that reason, Rise is a very good app and should be considered if you’re in the market for a new alarm clock.


A beautiful and simple alarm clock.