I often use my iPhone as an alarm clock. I have a $5 AM/FM alarm clock that I usually use to wake up to the radio, but for the past few weeks I had to wake up a different times and it's such a pain to set the alarm on the cheap radio.
So, essentially, I started thinking that there must be a way or app that would allow me to wake up to stored music on the iPhone or iPad or wake up to streamed internet Radio.
So, I did a bit of research, and found 3 things which seemed to fit my needs perfectly:
1. The iHome Radio App ($1.99) which streams internet radio
2. The iHome+Sleep App (Free) which is a clock/music app which allows you to wake up to your library, and if you have the iHome Radio app allows you to wake up to internet radio
3. The iHome ID9 Sound-Dock.
Now for a quick review. First, I absolutely love the entire idea of what is trying to be done here, and it appears to be a perfect solution to what I wanted. However, there are a few issues.
The iHome ID9 is a economical sleek looking Sound-Dock which charges all iDevices quickly when plugged in. The Sound Quality is surprisingly good. The integration with the iPad/iPhone also works well. Volume control on the dock controls the volume on the iDevice. When you plug the device in, it gradually brings up the volume as not to be alarming, and you can buy an optional remote control unit. The dock is rechargeable and can play for about 4.5 hours fully charged.
The iHome+Sleep app is a well designed, richly featured app which many options. You have many options to how to set your alarm: everyday, weekdays, weekends, or completely customized. In addition, you can choose it to have a "soft" wake up so that music doesn't come blasting on when the alarm goes off. It allows custom backgrounds and has a weather app. It even allows you to twitter/facebook when you go to bed or wake up. It also keeps statistics on your wake-up times. In addition, you can set options to go to bed to music as well, so that you can play music and it will go off after a set amount of time. Finally, you can also set wake-up reminders or notes of things you have to do during the day.
The Radio App is also well designed and fully featured. You can set favorites, search stations by genre, interest, locality, etc.
You would think with all of this there would be not much down side, but there are.
First, although the sound quality on the ID9 is quite good for the price range (actually just quite good), it is not very loud. Many other sound docks will simply be louder, perhaps with more distortion, but you can put the id9 on max volume and depending on the recorded amplification may not seem like much at all. So if you looking to use this as a speaker unit to fill a large room effectively, this isn't the unit for you.
Actually, the Bestbuy I got it from had many dock units side by side and you could compare the sound of each one, the id9 was the quietest. It did sound better than others at close max volume though. However, I wasn't buying it for loudness, so that wasn't an issue. It was primarily as a dock and for use as an alarm clock replacement.
The other problem is a design concern. The dock fits any other iDevice besides the iPad 2 very nicely. The 30-pin connector is angle too much for the iPad 2 and slightly too much to fit easily for the iPods as well. The problem with the iPad 2 is that since the edges are angled, and the dock connector on the id9 is angled in the opposite direction, it is difficult to get it in there without a lot of fuddling around and possibly scratching up the iPad.
They do however give you a black tab-like insert to put behind the connector specifically for the iPad 2. It does help, but you still have to fiddle around too much than one might like when trying to go to sleep. I have a BSE on the back of the iPad so I'm not too concerned about scratching too much, but they need to redesigned the dock connector for the ipad 2, bottom line.
A small gripe is that the dock is pretty heavy, about 3 pounds, so its not that portable weight-wise. Also, the dock will not charge when not plugged in.
Cons about the Apps
If the above problems were the only ones, then I would really be satisfied with the entire set-up. But there is one major problem with the app which may be due to limitations with integration with IOS, but I am not sure. Feel free to chime in as to why this is or if you know of a similar app which does not have this limitation.
Here is the major problem with the iHome+Sleep app, while you can wake up to your music library and internet radio, you can ONLY DO IT WHEN THE APP IS RUNNING IN THE FORGROUND!!!
Yup, that means if you run the app in the background or put the ipad into sleep mode, you will not wake up to your set music or station. It will however wake you up, but to an annoying buzzer. This I find completely weird, if the app can go off while in the background, I don't understand why it can't also wake you up to specific music or stations in this mode.
So, what this means is that you essentially have to have the iHome+Sleep app on the face of the ipad while it is plugged into the dock. I myself am not comfortable with this. One because it is killing (slowly) my screenlife, and two because of concerns of screen burn in or image persistence (I know that's a whole other topic), but in either case, it is a serious design flaw of the app. However, I can't imagine that it was overlooked, so I'm guessing it's a limitation with IOS and the app, or it is more difficult to code and may be available in later versions.
If it wasn't for this single issue, I would absolutely love this set-up. I am still going to use it, but it is so close to functioning as a clock/radio replacement but falls short by so little.
So much for the short review. Let me know where I went wrong, lol.