Sweet App: Visual, an iOS Timer

Visual is a simple countdown timer for your iPhone. Instead of showing a stopwatch-like countdown, the app takes over your whole iPhone screen with a single color. It starts out green and slowly fades to yellow and then red as your time runs out. You can pick other color pallets if you like.

Last month I changed my email workflow to only allow myself 44 minutes per day for email checking — one 22-minute segment in the early afternoon and another 22-minute segment towards the end of my day. And I’ve been using Visual to budget that time. 1

There is no shortage of iPhone timer apps. iOS comes with a built-in timer, and if that’s not good enough for you, Due is a highly-recommended and splendid alternative. What I like about Visual is that the face of the iPhone doesn’t say exactly how much time I have (well, it does, in ultra-fine print at the bottom of the screen for those who just must know).

Instead visual conveys about how much time is left through the nature of the visual timer.

Visual, an iPhone timer app

A countdown timer like this would never fly in a NASA control room, but for my office it works quite well.

My only two gripes with Visual are:

  • The icon. I’m not sure where it came from, but it sure doesn’t seem related to the rest of the app which is simple and well designed.

  • If you launch the app after the timer is done you are greeted with the “timer’s done” screen, rather than the launch screen for starting a new timer. Since you’re pretty much always are launching the app to start a new timer the app always requires an extra tap to get to the settings pane.

Visual is just a buck on the App Store. And be sure to check out the promo video, it’s pretty great as well.

  1. My reasoning behind the 44-minutes of email routine could take up an article all its own. But, in short, my reasoning is that cleaning out my whole inbox every single day is an unrealistic goal. And so, instead of allowing the amount of email in my inbox to dictate how much time and attention I need to spend there, I’ve set my own time budget for how much I’m willing to give to my email inbox. And yes, I admit that I am in a unique and fortunate position that I don’t have to check my email as part of my job. It behooves me to check my email, but I have no boss or co-workers relying on me to read and reply to email.
Sweet App: Visual, an iOS Timer