How often do you use your tablet in bed? It could be more than a fifth of the time, according to some studies. So the next time you hit the hay, charge your iPad or iPad 2 at your bedside, ditch the old alarm clock, and wake up in style with these weather, clock, and alarm apps (we've also included some for the iPhone).
Accessories You'll Want
To make the most of these apps, you'll want to invest in a dock for your iPhone or iPad ($29 for either), so that you can charge the device and stand it upright for a good view of the screen. The Smart Cover for the iPad 2 ($39 for polyurethane or $69 for leather) certainly works great as a stand, but you can find a multitude of options out there. (Check with Macworld for reviews of iPad stands.)
Weather HD (available in free and paid versions) displays gorgeous animations of the current weather conditions outside, along with the current time and weather forecast (hourly or five days out). You can set it up to show multiple cities, and a simple double-tap on the screen will dim the display so that it isn't too bright at night.
Price: Free or $1
Living Earth HD
Instead of counting sheep, you can put yourself to sleep with Living Earth HD's stunning visuals of a realistic spinning globe that displays the current weather conditions. You get a detailed weather forecast, and multiple cities. The app also allows you to set up one wake-up alarm with music (or entire playlists) from the iPod app.
Flip Clock HD
Flip Clock HD brings some fashionable retro style to your bedside with a beautiful simulation of a flip clock, along with current weather conditions and five-day forecasts. The app also has a built-in alarm manager (with iPod music as alarms). The paid version adds a sound-sensitive display control (the display dims when it's silent) and an announcement of the time every hour or with every touch of the screen.
Price: Free or $3 (iPad)
White Noise Pro
If you need some background noise to aid your sleep, White Noise for iPad or iPhone has a wide selection available, from ocean waves crashing to crickets chirping to frogs croaking to a shower running. You can also use the app's Mix Pad to make your own sounds (some are preset) and add them on top of music playing from your stored library. Once you choose your background sound, the app lets you set up wake-up alarms, and it also features its own digital clock face. (Or, if you prefer, you can use any other app, and the sounds will continue to play in the background).
Price: $3 (iPad), $2 (iPhone)
Sleep Cycle is a bio alarm clock based on the concept of light and deep sleep. To use it, you need to place your iPhone in your bed, where it will measure your movements with the built-in accelerometer to figure out the best time to wake you up. Instead of setting an exact wake-up time, you select a 30-minute window so that the app can determine--based on your sleep patterns--when you are in the lightest sleep phase, and then wake you up. The app also creates graphs of your sleep movements and keeps track of how many hours you sleep.
Price: $1 (iPhone)
Flip Time XL
If you prefer a simple yet elegant clock face for your iPad--day or night--check out Flip Time XL. It presents an old-style flight-info board with a clock and calendar (all of the panels flutter at launch), with smooth animations that will make your iPad or iPhone stand out as the coolest clock in the house. It works in both landscape and portrait mode, and the iPhone app even features several color schemes.
Price: $2 (iPad), $1 (iPhone)
Alarm Clock Radio
Turn your iPad or iPhone into an alarm clock radio with this app. It uses Shoutcast's radio directory of over 25,000 stations, so you can always set a different radio station to wake up to, with a simple alarm function. With a swipe, you can change the background color to suit your mood, and since the app supports AirPlay, you can beam radio stations to enabled speakers. The paid version has no ads, allows you to set up backup alarms, and lets you use your iTunes library for alarm music.
Price: Free or $2
iHome's iPhone and iPad app is the Swiss army knife of bedside apps. It features a full-screen clock with a weather widget and a bumper alarm manager that includes nap alarms and gentle wake functionality. iHome+Sleep is integrated with Facebook and Twitter, too: A slider underneath the clock allows you to catch up on the updates that posted while you slept. The app also tracks your sleeping hours (when you use the switch under the clock). Among other nifty features are reminders that display when you wake up, as well as a brief recap of overnight news from your social networks.
Aelios Weather beautifully displays the time and weather forecast at your bedside, as no other app can. The unique design has a central lens that locks in on a location when you drag around the map behind it; twisting a dial on the lens produces the current weather conditions and sunrise/sunset hours, or a seven-day forecast.
Price: $3 (iPad)
Sleep Talk Recorder
Do you talk in your sleep? Maybe you don't know it yet. Sleep Talk Recorder is a bedside app that records you on your phone when you sleep-talk. You can then play back your midnight ramblings, and--if you're up for it--you can share them on Facebook and Twitter, or listen to other people's sleep-talking online.
Price: $1 (iPhone)