It lets you look at the day’s sunlight times, quickly find sunrise and sunset, solar noon, twilight, and so on — And crucially, set alarms for each of these events that change every day, and per your location on planet Earth.
This project stemmed from an idea I had when driving home from work every evening, and occasionally I would get lucky enough to see a spectacular sunset just as I crossed the bridge in front of the old Blue Plate Mayonnaise factory, but I had to leave work at just the right time. Too often I answered a few more emails and left as it was getting dark.
(I still never got the perfect photo, but that has more to do with the foolishness of trying to take a photo and drive at the same time than my timing; one of my attempts you can see here, below.)
I also discovered that it was an easy bike ride to the river near our house and it was great to be up on the levee path when the sun was setting. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an iPhone app that would remind me that I had an hour left of daylight? I could catch the sun as it was setting on my way back home.
I checked the App Store and there was one app that would give me an alarm when the sun was setting, but that was already too late. I didn’t want to be reminded when it was already dark—I could usually figure that out—I wanted to be reminded when I only had an hour or so left of light. Good for photography; and useful for exercising… I could think of many more people that might use this. None of the other apps in the store could do it.
Josh Warren and I had worked together on the original Aquarium 2 app for Blu-ray, and he was excited to contribute some great design ideas and work to Sol: Sun Clock that would help take this app from something with a list of cool features to a unique user experience as well. We really wanted an app that would help you visualize what the day looked like, plus was fun to interact with.
As an obsessed amateur photographer, I started to use the app to remind me when the golden hour was. When my wife and I took a trip to Gulf Shores, I had it remind me to walk back out to the beach to catch the last hour of light, taking photos with my iPhone; and had it wake me up in the early morning to walk outside to catch the sunrise.
We spent a lot more time working on this app than we planned but I think that anyone who is interested in the changing daylight conditions —everyone from gardeners to exercise junkies to vampires — is going to get a lot out of this. Travelers, photographers and event planners whose work depends on it will find it essential.
Also, as someone who lived in Dublin, Ireland through three winters can tell you, the amount of sunlight you are exposed to can have a huge effect on your general happiness (so can a pint of Guinness of course). I realized that the wintertime blues all but vanished upon my moving down to sunny Louisiana, but that I still needed to make sure I got outside when it was light. I’ve used this app to make sure I get enough time outside when it counts, especially in the winter when the days are shorter.
There was an insane amount of math and calculations involved in this app that, combined with our perfectionistic attitude to having the perfect UI, caused it to take a bit longer than we hoped. I’d love to find out how you use it, and feel free to contact us with your suggestions as well.