Open thread: is Timely the new standard in Android app design?

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 20, 2013

timely screenshot

Epithets like “beautiful” and “well designed” get thrown around pretty liberally when it comes to apps. But few Android applications have been received with such general acclaim as Timely.

Timely is a clock app developed by Bitspin, a team of four Swiss developers, over a period of four months. While it’s obviously hard to deliver a mind-blowing experience in a mundane clock app, Bitspin managed to impress reviewers and users alike with Timely’s polished and carefully thought out design and functionality.

One noted Android app designer in particular was so enthralled by Timely that he declared it the best Android app he’d ever seen. Juhani Lehtimäki, who literally wrote the book on designing Android UI, heads Android development for a British startup and writes about app design on his blog Android UI Patterns. This is the conclusion to his blog post on Timely:

[quote qtext=”I’m speechless. This is the best Android app I’ve ever seen. This is the one I’ll be sending to designers I work with. This is the app I’ll be referring in my presentations and this is the app that’ll be waking me up every morning.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

[quote qtext=”We, as Android community, are in debt to the Timely Alarm Clock team. Hopefully companies around world will see this as a challenge and proof that you can be awesome on Android. Let’s hope that we’ll see this as a start of a trend. Let’s show the world that you can push the Android design forward and create stunning apps without breaking the guidelines. The guidelines aren’t limitations, they’re there to help you!” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

[quote qtext=”Now, if you haven’t yet, go to Google Play and get yourself the app that defines the next generation of Android design.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

I encourage you to read Juhani’s entire post, where he makes some great points on Timely and Android app design in general. Also read this great write up from Matias Duarte about the “rules” of Android design and when you should and when you shouldn’t break them.

Others in the Android community have echoed Juhani’s sentiments. Just Google Timely news for a wide assortment of posts that praise it. Our own Nate Swanner called it “gorgeous” and “sublime.”

Of course, there are some who are not awestruck with Timely. My colleague Joe Hindy declared that the app, or any clock app for the matter, is “hardly worth a trip around the blogosphere”. And there are some who point out that parts of the app’s interface are seemingly inspired by Rise, an iOS app.

Is Timely really “the best Android app ever?”

Personally, I like Timely – I am impressed with its functionality and design and love how intuitive and smooth it feels. With that said, I think that some of the hyperbole swirling around it is a bit overblown. Yes, it’s probably the best clock app for Android, but is it the best Android app ever? I am not sure.

How about you? Have you tried Timely out? Is it worth the hype? What are you looking for in terms of design in Android apps? What examples of great app design can you think off? Sound off in the comments.

  • MasterMuffin

    it’s just an alarm clock app. G+ is full of posts of this app, everyone is way too overly (:D) excited. We seriously need a filter to G+ that wouldn’t show any posts with the word “Timely” to me :/

    • Do you want a referral code? ;)

      • MasterMuffin

        Thanks, I forgot to add that we need a filter for “referral code” also :)

        • JosephHindy

          Yeah, all these referral codes. If they were “starving artists” promoting their YouTube channel on other people’s videos, they would’ve been flagged and removed for spam by now ;)

          • MasterMuffin

            Exactly, you found the right words to describe it :D

        • Laszlo Demeter

          Totally agree with you guys. I found the app clicking on a damn referral code (oh snap!), opened the app, liked the “cute” UI, saw it’s 25% off if you buy everything (even if everything separately costs more than 5€ and I paid 2.5€, I need to trust the developer the discount is 25%….NOT.

          Nice app, but the comments are a bit exaggerated. Most of those who rated the app will even marry the developers and eat Timely on bread….come on guys, it’s just a damn alarm app. What about the new Youtube app? Personally I like it more. Let’s make “youtube” trending on G+ before @mastermuffin:disqus will think about filters again :)

          • MasterMuffin

            Mah filters, need moarh. I like the new Youtube also, though it would be even cooler if the small floating video would stay there even when exitting the app. And playback while screen is off should be added back!

          • Laszlo Demeter

            Agree about the floating video. Maybe a way to move it would be also great. Resize too!
            Playback with the screen off….well…it’s a video player. Using it with the screen off is a bit against its job, no ? :)

          • MasterMuffin

            But people want to listen to music, and especially with slow connection the possibility to just play the audio would be nice

          • Laszlo Demeter

            Audio only…yes. But why don’t you use Google Music, Spotify or like me…Tunein ? Much better than listening on youtube.

          • MasterMuffin

            Because I don’t want to :)

          • Laszlo Demeter

            LOL…mulish :)

  • Bjajjull

    I absolutely love this app but I’m too greedy to buy it.

    If you like me please write in my code, V2BR-7888-THQX :) <3

  • Lloyd Watkin

    Anyone using the phrase/word “blogosphere” in a conversation isn’t worth paying attention to.

  • Tamadrummer94

    I mean, it looks good for an Android app, but that’s not saying much. I really like it and certainly hope that more devs and designers starting experimenting with layouts and interaction, but I think there is still plenty of room for improvement in the visuals department.

  • nero

    Great app, if you could use my refferal code to give us both a free theme that would be awesome. RBJ4-892E-48SN

  • I hope they come out with more cool things to do with referral codes. I bought the paid version with my 20 codes and I still have 109 points left. I love the app either way.

    • Laszlo Demeter

      Agree for those who used codes to buy the paid version, disagree for those who paid money to get the app. They can release new themes and ask those who get the paid version for points, but give it free to those who paid money for the app. Hope they will not become another “Tapatalk” (each update or add-on costs money)

  • slimdizzy

    Looks nice but why pay for built in functions. Cloud syncing is nice but seems like a “what else should we put in here” idea really. Also, this looks remarkably like Rise on IOS –

    Just saying.

    Enjoy though for those who find it useful.

    • I haven’t tried Rise, but from what I understand it’s just the slide to set alarm behavior that is similar?

      • slimdizzy

        First off, hey Bogdan. Secondly since I don’t own an IOS device ill have to get one of my friends to show. Based on screens shots for phone use though, to me the style is quite similar. I don’t care either way. Could be same dev(s) for all we know though right?

    • Zargh

      Look at this video review of Rise:

      Except the alarm setting pattern, they’re nothing alike.

  • Jonathan


  • blowntoaster

    Downloaded it. it’s nicely designed. developers take note. wouldn’t mind a hangouts replacement with a Timely like design…is there even a hangouts replacement out there…for Hangouts messages that is…

  • andandroyd

    Timely is certainly a great tribue to the clock on CM…

    • Bjajjull

      You know that’s the stock clock made by Google? I think Timely is awesome, takes the best from stock app and make it beautiful.

  • Luka Mlinar

    AA is really pushing this app O.o

    • Jason

      So is everyone else. G+ is flooded by the morons looking for freebie upgrades. I wonder what the dev is giving AA and other sites for pushing it.

      • JosephHindy

        As the AA app guy, I can assure you that Timely didn’t go through us, Jason. I think it really is the result of over-exuberance on the part of Nexus-oriented bloggers. It looks #holoyolo and people go a tad nuts over it sometimes.

        We never do paid reviews and if we did, I would be doing them. If I were doing it, I certainly would not have said what others have said about this app ;)

        • Luka Mlinar

          What i love about this page (compared to Android Police for example) is that we don’t see all that much app posts here. One would expect that when AA finally decides to write about one, that it would be something awesome. This is a clock :/

    • Two posts about it, one announcing its release, one questioning the hype around it. I don’t think we’re pushing it.

      • Luka

        2 more then it should have gotten

        • blackjaguar25



          • Luka Mlinar

            You don’t hear me correcting your Croatian.
            BTW I speak 7 languages. What about you?

          • blackjaguar25

            I wasn’t trying to speak Croatian. :)

          • OptimusKLP

            Haha sta to ima veze?

          • Luka Mlinar

            Nabijem njih i njihov dvodimenzionalni svijet gdje postoji samo Engleski. Neka ispravlja svoje tulipane koji nisu završili srednju školu.
            Mislim lako što ide ispravljati, ali da me vrijeđa na kraju toga. :/

          • OptimusKLP

            On je budala, nema veze sta on misli.

    • Arcendus

      The hype around this app has been absolutely hilarious

  • JosephHindy

    When you get down to the brass tax, Timely is:
    The stock Android clock with
    1. A live wallpaper background that you can change the color of (not the design, just the color).
    2. Some fun gesture controls.
    3. In app purchases.

    It’s a really good looking app and it would make a top ten list if I ever do one for clock apps…but “best Android app ever”? Not by a long shot. I appreciate it for what it is, which is a clock app.

    • Diskus1

      Don’t forget device sync, it is unique.

      • JosephHindy

        How many people set alarms on multiple devices though? I’m not saying it’s not a unique feature, but it’s not a big, overly useful feature. Like spinning rims on a car. It’s unique, but it adds more to the aesthetic of the car than provide any real functionality. All devices tell time and setting alarms isn’t that complicated. On a game, that’d be a huge deal…but this is just a clock app :)

        • Arcendus

          Most consumers don’t own multiple smartphones, and most people don’t keep their smartphone/tablet far enough apart to warrant use of the device sync. I’ll admit, it’s one of those “might as well have it just in case” features, but I for one can’t foresee ever taking advantage of it, and it certainly wouldn’t sway me one way or the other when choosing an alarm app.

    • Sally

      If you want more features use my referral code: CBUJ-28AJ-G96J

  • heisenberg1911

    What it is is irrelevant. You can apply the argument “it’s just an x app” to anything but that isn’t the point. Everything is just an app. What matters is its utility and design. Vodio is just a video app but it’s simplistic, intuitive, and beautiful. The new Yahoo weather app design also applies to that. But that’s just a weather app so surely it must be of little consequence. Timely is the essence of what an app should be and that’s the point. Designing an app is about not convoluding and distorting its very nature while simultaneously being appealing enough to perpetuate its use. Achieving that effectively is a rarity, indeed. With all the crap out there, the hyperbole is justified. If you want it to make your coffee for you as well, your judgment is misplaced.

  • Joshua

    Looks like a well made app. Might just be my new clock app ;)

  • Jeff Osborne

    Its very smooth and easy to use…lets see where this takes us.

  • Richard Ponds

    How about you? Have you tried Timely out?

    – Checked it out the day I read the article then paid for the premium content within 60 seconds because I was so impressed. Been through a lot of apps for alarms. Was originally using Alarmdroid for the past year and I really enjoyed all the options it had but the UI was ugly and clumsy IMO.

    Is it worth the hype?

    – Absolutely. Some may think $3 is silly to pay just for an Alarm/Clock app but it is worth the money just in the visual design and layout. The UI is flawless and sexy and the app itself functions great. The only thing I wish to have is the option to use my own ringtone/sound.

    What are you looking for in terms of design in Android apps?

    – I think Timely has set a good standard. The reason I use Android is because of how much thought and design goes into the making of the software surrounding the platform. I want form and function perfectly balanced in a sexy, easy to use, and ingenius application.

    What examples of great app design can you think off?

    -Honestly, TImely’s design blew me away so much I can’t think of anything else.

  • frhoward

    Im assuming he is saying its the best app he’s ever seen in a design point of view. I might have to agree. I just downloaded it and you can immediately tell that it has been well thought out. The UI is beautiful and how it explains different techniques on how to perform certain tasks are clean, crisp and amazingly simple. I wouldnt mind if this becomes the new standard for apps.

  • Clarkkent113

    I think the best designed Android app is probably Google+ or Google Music.

  • Vardan Nazaretyan

    I love the deign really badly, but I wouldn’t want this to become a new design guideline for android apps. I mean, first that was the weird Froyoish or Gingerbreadish design, then the holo UI that came with ICS, and then this redesigned holo and card UI mix. It would be pain in @r$e for devs to update their apps every year to fit the new guidelines.

  • brianzion

    very nice ui and seems to run smooth

  • Padraic Keogh

    It’s beautiful

  • Trent Richards

    I installed the app to see first hand what all the fuss is about. I still don’t see what all the fuss is about. Sure it is pretty, but is “pretty” really that big of a deal? The way people are going on I expected something revolutionary. Instead I found a rather simple yet pretty clock app.

  • Sebastian


  • Jonathan Mallett

    Is it the best Android App? That’s difficult to say, different apps have different functions. Is it the best designed/most polished Android App for what it does? In my opinion, yes.

    Any developer who takes the time to polish their app this much deserves to be applauded. I bought the app with no codes. It was under €2. I’ve paid more for far worse!

    • Arcendus

      No one seems to be mentioning the fact that even if you opt to pay for the “Pro” version of this app, you still can’t use your own alarm sound. To me, that isn’t at all polished. It has new frills that other alarm apps can’t offer, but it lacks the most basic and useful feature of customization. The fact that it allows you to customize the wallpaper behind the alarm/clock/timer interfaces independently but NOT the sound you wake up to (outside their limited sound set) is an incorrect prioritization of features.

  • vosg

    This reminds me of MegaClock way back in the Palm days;-)

  • mrjayviper

    rarely used my alarm clock so can’t be bothered using this app. the one cm comes with is more than enough for MY needs.

  • Kenny

    i feel that this is one of the most well designed apps other than falcon pro that we need in the google play store. Android apps are generally full of functionality but we need aesthetics too . This way we’ll trash apple like nth heheheheh

  • End in sight

    It’s pretty. You might be able to build a full OS UI around it. Then again, it’s only a clock so it is limited in function. And I am trying to think of any other app I have that could use that side setting kind of feature. Can’t think of any.

  • It looks good and works well! I’m not complaining. :)

  • Dániel Vágner

    It’s free on the Play Store (in my country, at least), i don’t know what $3 price are you talking about. Just tried it on my galaxy mini and it’s awesome (with effects turned to full of course). It even has nice alarm sounds. It’s a pleasure to use.

  • CN

    Mine’s 7SS4-NQ65-B7AJ
    Please use!

  • rsync

    here’s my code, add it and we both get points

  • Arcendus

    Well this article was laughably over-the-top. Sure, it’s a nicely designed app, but to even include the quote “best android app ever” for an app you’ll spend MAYBE 15 minutes in (aside from snoozing/disabling the alarm every time it goes off) is just silly. Not to mention that even if you opt for the Pro route and purchase the extra features, you still can’t use your own alarm sounds. That wouldn’t bother me if the app featured a great sound set, but it’s mediocre at best. I found two alarm sounds that were decent, while the rest were either cheesy harp/nature sounds or cheesy 80’s inspired synth-rock. I’m happy with the app, and I’ll be using it in place of the stock app (HTC One), but let’s be realistic. This is a very basic app that was obviously in a romantic relationship with the Phase Beam Live Wallpaper.

  • Yossi Cohen

    this is by far the most polished app on android! just look at the animations and the blazing 60 fps!
    i never thought this kind of polish was even possible!
    it surpasses all iOs apps when it comes to polish and this is actually a start of a new era of android apps! looks androidy yet so fun to use.
    google themeselves should learn from them!
    live wp with a smooth transitions is a great achievement in android so give the honor when someone deserves it!

  • Singh

    I just entered it I got 2 points. My code is: UWRC-5F5V-VSBH

  • Scotty

    If you use this Timely referral code, you get free points for premium items! :)
    Referral Code: X535-KPYK-7PVU

  • バいぇy

    My referral code us: 3AKY-QA4W-43Y5 add please

  • foggyflute

    I prefer separate alarm / timer / world time.
    Stock alarm – wake up and time to cook lunch, dinner, nothing fancy, just reliable.
    Simple Timer – with numberic pad, devs who use slider have special place in hell.
    Clock around the world – with time slider to find good time to call, genius.

    There’s no need for stopwatch, but there’s plenty of good one.
    The only thing left that I still wait for better app is interval timer.

  • Kyon

    I wish this could be put up as home screen and/or lock screen.
    9KXN-TYG6-96EC = referral code to get free themes!

  • csigeee
  • håkon

    Nice alarm clock with fun features helping you to wake up. The shortened snooze time is nice and the different puzzles. my code is 2zk8-099e-h3vn

  • zangi

    If anyone wishes to use my code I would oblige you by using yours. One can use a code only once !!


    reply the moment you use it so that I can know for sure ;)

  • I like Timely – I am impressed with its functionality and design and love how intuitive and smooth it feels. With that said, I think that some of the hyperbole swirling around it is a bit overblown. Yes, it’s probably the best clock app for Android, but is itthe best Android app ever? I am not sure.