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Review: Kiwake Alarm Clock – waking up made easy?

Kiwake is an app designed to make early birds out of even the laziest of us – but does it actually work?

Price: $1.99/£1.49
Version: 2.2.2
Size: 61.7 MB
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Developer: Kiwake inc

For many of us, the alarm clock snooze button is a double edged sword: hitting it repeatedly may be one of the most satisfying parts of the day, but it’s also a slippery slope and a huge waste of time. If only it were easier to get out of bed at first request instead of prolonging the chore. That’s where Kiwake comes in.

This alarm clock app has no snooze button. Instead, it makes you jump through hoops to prove you’re awake. This three-step wake-up process is split into Body, Brain, and Motivation sections and should get you ready for the day. Like an angry drill sergeant, there are no compromises or second chances. You get up when you’re told to get up, OK?


We love an app that explains itself with a Venn diagram

Let’s take a closer look at how those three sections work.


This is the main selling point of the app, and the part which forces you to actually get up and out of bed to disable the alarm. The concept is brilliant: take a photo of an object far from your bed, and in the morning the app won’t stop ringing until you’ve found it and taken a matching snapshot. It’s designed to “prove” that you’ve left the warm safety of your bed, which – let’s face it – is the toughest hurdle in the quest for an early start.


Once registered, only this guy has the power to stop the alarm


Next up is a mental challenge to wake that gray matter. To progress past this stage you’ll need to complete a random mini-game designed to get your brain into gear. Though not especially inventive, each of the five games are well presented and do a good job of forcing you to concentrate. Memory challenges and simple puzzles are on the menu, and engaging with them really does help to stir you from slumber.


The games aren’t difficult, but they do require your full attention


Finally, the app will display a list of predefined goals for the day, both as a reminder of what lies ahead and a little motivational boost. You set these yourself, so can tailor them however you like. Even something as inconsequential as “eat a hearty breakfast” is an indication to your sleepy self of the perks of getting up early. Kiwake makes you swipe these goals away one by one to ensure you’ve read them all. A nice touch.


An early morning pep talk from yourself

Does it work?

The app claims to use “very precise image recognition,” which unfortunately in our testing wasn’t exactly true. We found that regardless of the original image, you could scan almost anything and it would register as a match, thus making it possible to “cheat” by taking a random photo from your bed. We appreciate the need for wiggle room – you can’t be expected to exactly recreate the original image – but such a wide berth creates an easily exploited loophole. One might argue that you’re only cheating yourself, but if you have the willpower to do things properly even when you don’t have to, you probably don’t need this app in the first place.

There are a few odd interface choices (why do some pages not have a back button?) but generally the presentation is pretty good here. All the standard alarm clock features you could ask for are present: custom alarm tones, multiple alarms for different days of the week, optional soothing sounds to help you nod off in the first place. Some users are noticing glitches and bugs – crashes, settings not saving, etc – though we didn’t have much trouble during testing.

Ultimately, Kiwake is a solid concept with a slightly spotty implementation – above all, the image recognition really could do with some refinement. The good news is that despite these small flaws, the app seems to be working; the three-step morning routine really does help you to stop snoozing and start cruising.

If you struggle to get up on time or have an unhealthy reliance on the snooze button, Kiwake is definitely worth a shot.