The alarm is a such a useful and fundamental feature on our phone that many of us have done away with traditional (mechanical or digital, depending on when you were born) alarm clocks. But no matter how many times we change devices, some habits will never change. You know what I’m talking about, the handy dandy snooze button. We’re like Olympians when it comes to the snooze button. You can almost feel it coming before it comes and you smack it hard (or in the case of the iPhone, quickly tap) before it can yell at you again. And you’re proud at how fast you can do it. You smile and go back to sleep. Just for a little, you promise. But have you ever wondered by the iPhone, one of the most advanced pieces of technology, has a 9-minute snooze interval? Why not a full 10 minutes? Why not 5? Take a walk down history lane to find out why.Not all of us can wake up flawless like Hilary Duff or Queen Bee, who make it look so effortless. Those eyelids aren’t heavy at all.
In fact, no matter how far in advance we plan, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do. So, we end up staying late, making it difficult for us to get up in the morning. Ah, this is more how I feel like in the morning.
The first alarm clock is often credited to Levi Hutchins, but historians point to references hinting at earlier versions in Germany. Remember these clunky yet adorable alarm clocks? The first Big Ben alarm clock was sold in the early 20th century, and now many of us find it in stores to add a bit of vintage flair.
Digital clocks quickly booted traditional alarm clocks. The digital alarm can be traced to Josef Pallweber, an Austrian engineer that created the first digital pocket watch and the “jump-hour” mechanism in 1883, which forever changed the watch industry. A number of digital clocks evolved from there.
With smart phones like the slim and beautifully constructed iPhone, people everywhere have done away with not only their older alarm clocks but with planners, address books, and landlines. Some of us have waited hours in line to get our hands on the latest versions.
The alarm clock on your iPhone is completely customizable. You can set the exact time, set it to repeat, and even name it. When the time comes to wake from your slumber, this pops up.
Here’s some inspiration for naming your alarms. Look familiar? Seems like you’re not the only one that likes to live on the edge.
Let’s say you select ‘Snooze.’ Have you ever noticed that the snooze interval is set to 9 minutes?
Sure, you can download other applications to customize your alarm further, but why isn’t the option available in one place? That’s why you bought the iPhone in the first place, right? For convenience and reliability. One guy, Dave Smith, even wrote an article titled ‘Apple really needs to fix the iPhone snooze button’ for Tech Insider.
This 9-minute mystery was probably best explained by David J. Slavik, a collector of antique clocks, on Quora. “Many mechanical clocks achieved the snooze function by using a self-contained gear that reacted with the hour hand,” he wrote. “A specific timed snooze was not possible as the gearing was affected by the spring tension, size of the clock (limiting the size of the gear) and, since most relied on a separate spring drive, how long the entirety of the alarm function would be energized.” “In essence the alarm function of these old mechanical clocks was a separate set of gears that responded to the gross movements of only the hour hand which also explains why the ‘hot zone’ of a snooze alarm was only a single hour.”
If you’d like to know exactly when the 9-minute standard was implemented, check out Slavik’s detailed explanation below. “It is my belief that when the first hybrid electric clocks arrived THAT is when a seeming 9 minute standard was adopted. These old electric clocks physically flipped cards to indicate the time. Driven by an electric motor that used the cycles of an AC connection to remain accurate.”
“For this reason the physical interface for the snooze function had to be put on the minute column so that each flip of the card that was displayed when the snooze button was pressed would retrigger the alarm.” “Putting it anywhere else would have resulted in an inordinately long snooze. Pretty simple to open up one of these old clocks and see the mechanics behind them. Problem is you still have a standard of 10 minutes. How this is explained is that when the user presses the buttons some number of seconds will have already passed.”
“The snooze function had no way to deal with this and didn’t even try,” the expert concluded. “So you end up with a function that is almost never quite 10 minutes, never less than or equal to 9.”
Yes, that’s right. It isn’t that they aren’t able to adjust this for users, it’s that they have chosen not to (if you’re a Windows user, you’ll notice that this issue is absent).
Maybe your life will change now that you have the power to explore different options that’ll allow you to dump the traditional 9-minute interval, or maybe you just don’t care. You can always set multiple alarms, 5 or 10 minutes apart (that is, if you don’t already do that).