Timer is a useful utility for iPhone

Timer from App Cubby ($0.99) is a handy utility for the iPhone. It lets you create several color-coded timers that can be launched, paused and customized with a tap. It’s faster than using Apple’s Clock app and has earned a permanent home on my iPhone. Here’s my look at Timer.

Looks

Timer presents a 3 x 4 grid of buttons. Each represents a given duration. An active timer “lights up” as the numbers count down for easy reference. It’s clear and legible and the color coding keeps things organized. Timers with a preset duration display their value while those without show a clock icon.

Use

I use timers a lot. Specifically, when I’m cooking, steeping tea and taking a nap. I’ve always used Apple’s Clock app for this and it’s fine. To create a timer with Clock, simply launch the app, dial in your preferred duration, select an alert sound and tap Start. There’s nothing wrong with it, but Timer does so much more.

First and foremost, you can run several timers at once. This is huge in the kitchen. Let’s say the potatoes au gratin need 45 minutes, the broccoli 10 and the turkey 3 hours. Each can have its own timer and they can all run at the same time.

To keep yourself organized, you can assign a color to each of those items and even a unique alarm. That way, you can tell what’s done just by listening. To edit a timer, tap and hold on its icon to produce the editor, where you’ll find several options:

1. Preset – Assign a default duration to this timer
2. Time – Duration
3. Alert – Choose the alert sound
4. Color – Assign a color to that timer button

It’s useful to create timers for frequently-used durations. For instance, I steep my tea for 3 minutes and take 20 minute naps. Now each is a single tap away. When a timer is complete, your alert sounds, a message appears on the screen and the corresponding button flashes. Also, the timer continues to count, but this time, forward. That way  you can see how much time has elapsed since your timer expired.

Why not just use Siri?

That’s a good question. Telling Siri, “Set a timer for three minutes” is faster than launching Timer and tapping the appropriate button (depending on how fast you speak, that is). But Timer has several advantages over Siri. First, it can run several timers simultaneously, as I mentioned. It’s also easier to view a timer’s progress with Timer. Siri will show you a timer’s progress if you ask, “Let me see my timer,” though you still have to look at the screen. It won’t read the time remaining to you. Also, Siri can’t set a timer that’s less than a minute long. “I can’t set a timer with seconds. Sorry about that” is the response you’ll get.

Conclusion

Timer solved a few problems for me, like speed and simultaneous timers. It looks good and is only $0.99. I recommend it.