Review: The World Clock app for iOS devices

The World Clock app brings more than just time-zone clocks (March 27th, 2012)

Among the many maps app available on the App Store, The World Clock fills addresses a unique niche. The app provides a real-time day/night map, timezone information across the globe, and an e-mail utility that enables users to send event invites with time tables that represent the event time for each invitee's location, among other features. In our full review, we test the app's usefulness as a tool for international collaboration.

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Product Manufacturer: Andrei Kolev

Price: $1.99

The Good

  • Beautiful image of the earth

    -Shows night and day areas of the earth; changes as the seasons change.

    -Lets you see what time it will be in several places at once, and then make appointments or send e-mail.

The Bad

  • Scrolling through the list of cities to create a clock is inconvenient.

Ok, we'll admit it. We're suckers for maps. We like looking at maps, figuring stuff out with maps, and learning new things by studying maps. That's one of the reasons that Andrei Kolev's The World Clock iOS application made us smile.

The World Clock runs on all the iOS devices that we could lay our hands on: an iPod touch, an iPhone, and all three iPad models. It's nice on the smaller screens, but really shines on the 10-inch screen of the iPad - and it contains high-resolution images that look even better on the Retina display of the new iPad.

The main display of The World Clock (referred to as 'TWC' for the remainder of the review) consists of two parts; the top is a simulated real-time view of the earth, showing where it is night and day. The underlying images come from the NASA Visible Earth Project, and are quite detailed, showing detail in the daylight areas, and lighted cities in the "night time" areas. Users can see how this changes over time by either waiting and watching, or grabbing the "night time" and sliding it either to the left (into the future) or to the right (into the past). If you want to see how things will look on a different day, you can tap on the date at the top of the screen and choose a different date. This was fascinating to me, because the "shape of the night" changes as the seasons wax and wane. A very nice touch: If you have changed the map display to a different time, a button marked "Now" appears in the upper left corner. If you have changed to a different day, it says "Today". This makes "getting back to the present" a snap.

Here's an example from this coming June:

Below the map of the world is a series of clocks. You can have as many clocks as you want, limited by what will fit onto the screen. The developer claims that you can show 24 clocks at once. We didn't try that, but did notice that a second row is needed for seven more more clocks on an iPad (in landscape mode), shrinking the display of the earth. There are a ton of options for displaying the clocks; there are analog and digital versions--several kinds of each, in fact. You can show different kinds of ancillary information, such as the offset from GMT, or the time difference from where you are, and so on.

The only problem we had with the clocks is that there are so many cities in TWC's database that you are forced to scroll through a long list to find the one that you want. Just in Argentina, for example, there are several hundred cities listed. This is a testament to the thoroughness of the developer, but the user experience could be better. After a while we hit upon choosing the country and then typing the first few letters of the name into the search box to find the city that we wanted.

But TWC is not just for looking at clocks; you can also use it for setting up meetings. For example, we work with people in Sydney, Brisbane, Tokyo, San Diego, and Austin, and remembering what time it is in all those locations is a bit of a pain. Using TWC, we can see what time it will be in all those places, then create an e-mail containing a table with all the cities and times (and dates) for a meeting invitation.

You can also add the meeting directly to your calendar from inside TWC. Once you have scheduled this meeting, you can set an alarm in TWC to remind you before it starts.

When TWC starts up, it makes a network connection (if you have a network available) to a time server, which gives it an exact time, so you never have to worry about it being inaccurate. Unfortunately, due to the iTunes Store restrictions, TWC cannot set the time on your iPad, but it will show you the difference between the time it got from the network server and the time on your iPad.

All in all, this is a very nice application. It does several handy things, and does them well. It is available from the iTunes store and sells for $1.99. Oddly, clicking on the "Developer's web site" in iTunes takes you to a Facebook page. However, he seems to provide support there.

by Marshall Clow


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