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Daily iPhone App: Nixie Clock

I'm probably a little weird, but sometimes I love listening to police scanners and various chit chat as I'm going to bed. I also like analog devices, so a Nixie Clock Radio seemed like a neat idea: the look of the classic Nixie clock merged with streaming radio and an alarm/sleep timer. It works as advertised, but there's always room for improvement.The Nixie Clock app is simplicity itself. You start it up, and it takes a brief moment to "warm up" with a few flashes of the numbers, just like a real Nixie would do. Below the time readout (which has no AM/PM, using military readout only) are three functions: the radio, the alarm and the sleep timer. Tapping on each will dissolve into the options to the right of the button. It wasn't entirely evident that you could tap on these at first, but I rather like the minimalist approach.

The alarm works fine, and you set the time by tapping each number using a HH:MM format. The sleep timer also works great, and gives you a sort of countdown on the minutes (nothing moves too fast in Nixie, so there are no seconds shown). Tapping the radio icon logically brings up radio controls and will show you what channel is playing. Speaking of channels, the selection is a little thin and made up mostly of news and talk radio stations, but the developer says he plans to allow you to add channels later.

Nixie Clock is a nifty, limited-purpose but attractive radio alarm. For a buck it's worth it for the nostalgia alone, but add to that the app is compatible all the way back to iOS 3.1.3 and your nostalgia can even extend to older iDevices not capable of running iOS 4. I have a first-generation iPhone and iPod touch which could use this app with a dock and become little radio alarm clocks on their own.

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