I have a thing for timers. They help me get things done. Not just things in the kitchen but everything. When I am operating at full capacity juggling deadlines, timers help keep me on track.
I first used them in the studio to discipline my production schedule fifteen years ago. My internal sense of time is very, um, well, loose. I get absorbed in repetitive labor like hand-stitching bits of paper or teasing wool. Now that most of my work is on the computer, editing video clips or 'drawing' virtually, I still get lost. Making marks, pixelating and re-arranging. So once again, in an effort to keep myself on track, I am setting off bells.
I set a timer when I start a task so that one, I get a truer sense of how long that kind of work really takes me and two, to make sure I move on to the next thing sooner rather than later.
Okay, I'll admit it. Timers are irresistible objects. I like looking at them. I like winding them. I use a few at a time. A lot of noises - beeps and alarms - really bug me, but bells on timers are different. They've become a familiar tune for order amidst chaos.
When I saw the Gourmet Egg Timer iPhone App made by Scott Marsden, I was curious if I would like how the timer 'works' compared to physical ones. Would the bell be as effective? Give me the same push? Would I miss the quality of physically handling a timer as an object?
So I tested it. And I went ahead and made some eggs while I was at it.
I found a video demo of the app on a blog in Kazakhstan that shows the app's user interface of an egg in water. The video has a strumming harp-like loop (that is an example of the kind of noise that bugs me) but the video still does a basic job of showing you the app in motion. When you tip your iPhone (or Touch), the water level and egg move accordingly. The water bubbles and makes sounds like it's boiling. And also through sound, time ticks away just like a wind-up.
The Gourmet Egg Timer doesn't try to be a game and compete for adolescent hearts. It just works. When it opens, you set the size of your egg and the GPS determines your altitude to refine the cooking time. When the timer starts, you can further choose your boiled egg preference from soft to hard.
As a design, the simplicity of the imagery matches the function beautifully.
By taking advantage of the device's tilt action capability, the app reinvents the timer in a new format and yet still satisfies as an object. It feels comfortable to handle. You feel the invitation to 'play' a little with the water but no pressure to totally lose yourself with or like a zombie. I set it and go back to work until the alarm goes off.
This app, as simple as it sounds, does just what it needs to do and does it beautifully. For me, that is plenty and a welcome addition to my collection.