What Is “Speaker Beeper”?
Speaker Beeper is a small iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) app that is a simple, intuitive and extremely usable countdown timer. That’s all it does. It does one thing, and it does that one thing very well.
Where Can I Get Speaker Beeper?
Speaker Beeper is available at the Apple App Store. You download it through iTunes or directly onto your devices.
Who Will Use Speaker Beeper?
Speaker Beeper is primarily aimed at public speakers. People who need to address an audience without getting distracted by needless “bling,” and who need to know when to start winding things up in a smooth and natural fashion.
There Are A Lot of Timers Out There. What Makes Speaker Beeper Special?
Speaker Beeper has a special “Podium Mode,” that mimics the podium prompt lights that professional public speakers, lawyers and debaters use to time their orations. Podium Mode was designed specifically to eliminate any distracting movements or indicators. It shows only 3 “lights,” indicating the current stage of the speaker’s allotted time. We’ll explain it in a bit more detail, later.
Basic Introduction and Instructions
The examples and screenshots shown here are almost all taken from the iPhone version of the app. The iPad version will generate a bigger display, but is very similar.
Also note that the iPhone displays in horizontal orientation only. The iPad version displays in all orientations.
There are 3 timers in the app. Each one can be set independently. Only one timer can be run at a time. The timers are each given a unique color.
Upon starting up Speaker Beeper for the first time, the app will open on the Setting Screen of Timer 1, which is indicated by white numbers. Timer 2 has blue numbers, and Timer 3 has green numbers. Other than the differences in number colors, the timers are identical, and independent. Each one is set the same way, but you can configure each timer independently of the others.
Figure 1: The Initial Timer 1 Screen
This is the Setting Screen. It is a bit complicated, compared to the Countdown Screen. You set the initial time here, and specify how you want the timer to behave.
Setting The Time
In order to set the time, you simply swipe up and down over the numbers. You can also tap the upper or lower parts of the numbers to increment more precisely (Swiping will scrub through the numbers quickly, and tapping will set them more precisely).
The time is displayed as “HH:MM:SS” (Hours -:- Minutes -:- Seconds).
The maximum time that can be set is 23:59:59. You cannot set the hours more than 23, or the minutes or seconds more than 59. None of the numbers will go below 00.
Figure 2: Using Gestures to Set the Time
As soon as a time is set, the Start Timer button will become visible. This is a large green button that appears just below the numbers. If you touch this button, it will start the timer counting down.
The Clear button will also enable. This is a black button in the upper left corner of the screen. If you touch that button, the time will reset to 00:00:00, and the Start Timer button will disappear.
In Podium Mode, a couple of other buttons (Yellow and Red) may become visible/enabled. We’ll explain these a bit later.
Whatever time is currently displayed in the Setting Screen is the time at which the timer will begin counting down. It counts down in 1-second intervals. Touching the Start Timer button will set the app to the Countdown Screen. This is a much simpler screen that only shows the timer in operation.
There can be 2 different versions of the Countdown Screen, depending upon the preferences that you have selected for your timer (We’ll cover them soon).
Figure 3: The Digital Mode Countdown Screen
Figure 4: The Podium Mode Countdown Screen
Reaching The End of The Time
Once the timer has reached 00:00:00, a few things can happen, depending on whether or not you are in Podium Mode:
- If you are in Digital Mode:
- The digits will flash red. The timer will also start counting up.
- If you have chosen an audible alarm, a beeping (the volume can be selected) will be heard if you have the phone off silent mode. The iPhone will also vibrate, and has a “vibration-only” setting.
Figure 5: The iPhone’s Silent Mode Switch
- If you are in Podium Mode, the red “light” simply flashes. No audible or vibrational alarm is given.
You leave the Countdown Screen by simply touching the screen. If you are in Digital Mode, this will stop the beeping, as well as returning you to the Setting Screen.
If you are in Podium Mode, the time will always reset to the start time. However, if you are in Digital Mode, the time at which you stopped will be saved, and you can resume from there.
Figure 6: The Digital Mode Settings Screen With An Interrupted Countdown
In this case, you will see a Reset button. Touching this button will revert the countdown to the start time.
We should note that the countdown “granularity” is in 1-second intervals. If you interrupt the countdown towards the end of a second, it will start from the beginning of that second when it resumes.
Each timer has a Prefs button at the upper right corner. Touching this button will either slide in a Prefs Screen (iPhone or iPod Touch), or present the Prefs Screen in a popover (iPad).
Figure 7: The iPhone Prefs Screen
Figure 8: The iPad Prefs Popover
The Timer Mode Switch
Dominating the Prefs Screen is the Timer Mode Switch. This chooses whether this timer will operate in Digital Mode or in Podium Mode. The choices immediately under the switch will change, depending on which mode is chosen.
If the Timer Mode Switch is set to Digital Mode, a slider appears below it. This slider controls the volume of the audible alarm, at the end of the countdown. There are a number of loudness steps, from Off, to Vibration Only (Only effective on iPhone), and then 4 steps of loudness. The beep sound cannot be changed in pitch or sound played; only volume.
Figure 9: The Digital Mode Volume Slider
Remember that the sound will only play if the device is out of silent mode.
If the Timer Mode Switch is set to Podium Mode, a single switch appears. This is the Automatic Threshold Switch, and controls whether or not you can set the Podium Mode Thresholds manually, or if they are automatically selected for you. If this switch is set to On, then the thresholds will be set to 1/6 (Warning Threshold) and 1/12 (Final Threshold) of the total time selected.
Figure 10: The Podium Mode Automatic Threshold Switch
The Podium Mode Thresholds
The way that the Podium Mode works, is that the “lights” are displayed quietly and steadily in the Countdown Screen. No blinking or moving parts. When the countdown reaches the time set for a particular threshold, the “lights” will quietly change to reflect the new state (time segment) for the countdown. There are 4 states for the countdown:
- Normal State. This is indicated by a green “light.” This means “Keep Talking.”
Figure 11: Normal State
- Warning State. This is indicated by a yellow “light.” This means “Start Winding Down.”
Figure 12: Warning State
- Final State. This is indicated by a red “light.” This means “Prepare to Shut Up.”
Figure 13: Final State
- Overtime State. This is indicated by a flashing red “light.” This means “Shut Up.”
Setting The Thresholds In Podium Mode
We’ve already covered setting the initial time in Digital Mode. Podium Mode is set in the same manner, but has a couple of additional controls. These are the Threshold Buttons, and they appear above the digits.
Figure 14: The Podium Mode Threshold Buttons When The Automatic Threshold Switch is On
Figure 15: The Podium Mode Threshold Buttons When The Automatic Threshold Switch is Off
If the Automatic Threshold Switch is set to On, then the Threshold Buttons will not be enabled (they will look “flat,” and they will display a time, which will change as you change the time in the main digits).
Figure 16: The Podium Mode Threshold Buttons Change Automatically if The Automatic Threshold Switch is On
If the Automatic Threshold Switch is set to Off, then the Threshold Buttons will be enabled (they will have a “glossy” appearance), and they will not change when you change the time.
In order to set the thresholds, you need to first set the main display to a threshold time, then press the enabled Threshold Button.
Figure 17: Setting the Final Threshold to 10 Seconds
Figure 18: Setting the Warning Threshold to 30 Seconds
Once you have the two Threshold Buttons set, then set the timer to the time that you will want to start. The timer display will change as each threshold is crossed.
Figure 19: Ready to Start Counting From 1 Minute
In Figure 19, the countdown will start from 1 minute (00:01:00). The timer will be in Normal State (Green “light”) for 30 seconds. At that point, it will enter Warning State, and the green “light” will turn “off,” to be replaced by the Yellow “light.” It will remain in Warning State for 20 seconds, at which time it will enter Final State (red “light”). It will stay in Final State for 10 seconds. At the end of 10 seconds, the entire minute has passed, and you have entered Overtime State. The red “light” will flash until you touch the display.
The Main Settings
If you choose the “Settings” tab on the bottom right of the screen, you will be taken to the Main Settings Screen. This is where “global” settings that apply to all timers are made. As you can see, there’s not much.
Figure 20: The Main Settings Screen
These settings only affect the way that swiping or tapping the digits (to set the time) behaves. The “Scrolling Speed” slider determines how quickly you can scrub through all the values when swiping. It does not affect tapping. The “Scrolling Sounds” switch will play soft “clicking” sounds as the digits are scrubbed (assuming that the device is not in silent mode). The “Show Scrolling Arrows” switch will flash arrows in the digits briefly as you increment them or decrement them. These arrows indicate the direction of the change.
The app maintains a persistent “state.” It remembers where it left off. No need to save settings. As long as the app is installed, it will always remember its settings.