Jason Crabtree


← Blog / Design Review of iPhone Event Countdown Apps [2020, iOS Apps]

Design Review of iPhone Event Countdown Apps [2020, iOS Apps]

> Skip to my recommendation for the best, most well designed iPhone Countdown app in 2020

I have a big event coming up at the end of September, and given gestures around, indicates the Year of ~2020~, I’m looking for something to help me count down towards the event.

I’ve heard of countdown apps before, but never used them. In the past I’ve been a fan of googling “days till 25th December”. Time to change that and try some different Countdown apps out, and review their design (user experience and user interface visual design) in the process!

Exploring Options

I started by downloading sixteen different countdown apps. These were found in several different ways — some directly from the App Store search (Event Countdown App), some from looking at ProductHunt.

Straight away there were a lot of similarities in name, app icon and general design, with some apps even being from the same publisher with minor differences.

I started by downloading 16 apps, with the app icons pictured here. Icons range from traditional calendars to countdown timer illustrations. Image includes text that reads: Exploring Options. I started by downloading a bunch of apps — found through the App Store and ProductHunt. Time to start counting down the different Countdown apps. Lots of app icons, with consistent themes and metaphors, and some from the same publisher!

Something that stood out early was that some of the apps I downloaded were quite new and polished, while visually looked directly out of 2015. Some used base iOS components, and one even had a Material UI style design.

Some Apps Dropped out of the Race Early On

In order to get a fair test of the apps, I created one event in each app. This gave a good sense of visual design (super important if you are checking your exciting upcoming event countdown daily!), how easy it was to create new events, and what ads might be part of the app.

While in general I am in favour of ads in iPhone apps — and I realise there’s big problems with the business model of smaller indie apps, several of these apps were completely abusive and unusable. Full screen takeover ads every 60-seconds for Tinder, tourism, and health insurance are dealbreakers!

Early Drop Outs due to poor user experience or visual design. Some apps made the decision to avoid using them very easy.Problems included full screen takeover ads, unreadable typography, location permission requests and generally poor user experiences.

A selection of screenshots that immediately stood out with poor experiences. The most significant problems related to typography, confusing layouts, and hostile ads that took over the screen or popped up on every second screen tap.

A 6 image grid of some of the apps that got removed from options early-on. Images show poor layout, difficult to read typography, overwhelming ads and generally poor user experiences.

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Narrowing the Options

After initial exploration in each app, the remaining five stood out as being worth exploring. Each had a slightly different design style — ranging from wide, modern typography to utilitarian monotype and traditional photo with text, done well.

Let’s break down pros and cons.

Time to narrow our options. After initial exploration in each app, the remaining five stood out as being worth exploring. Each had a slightly different design style — ranging from wide, modern typography to utilitarian monotype and traditional photo with text, done well. Let’s break down pros and cons.

The Five Remaining Options

  1. Days
  2. Countdown (2 4/5 App Icon)
  3. TimeCount
  4. Countdown (00 App Icon)
  5. Day Tracker

Days

Days • Event Countdown - iOS App Store Link

The Days app screenshots show a lovely balance of a clean, simple display list of upcoming events, and a fullscreen view of individual events.

Pros

  • Lovely display list of upcoming events
  • Tap on each individual event to see a full screen of your chosen image and countdown
  • Focused, clear layout that highlights exactly what you need when you want it
  • No ads, one time £1.99 purchase to upgrade for full features.

Cons

  • No text customisation — only one option for colour and placement

Countdown (2 4/5 App Icon)

Countdown – Count Down To Date - iOS App Store Link

The Countdown app screenshots shows a clear list of upcoming events with small square images to the left of the event details. The individual event view has a great display of days till the event, that can be swapped from light to dark display mode to offer good contrast of the background image.

Pros

  • Text can be toggled between white and black options, giving more flexibility for different pictures
  • A simple, focused list view of Countdowns with a mix of sorting options
  • No intrusive ads. The top left icon on the list view links to More Apps by the publisher — a calm, out of the way advertisement.

Cons

  • Navigation from the full screen event view towards the main list is awkward, and it can be difficult to see the icon in the top left. No gesture navigation options.

TimeCount

TimeCount - Day Counter - iOS App Store Link

The TimeCount app screenshots show large images for each upcoming event, offering the best list visual experience for future events. A large golden star asks for upgrades, which can be distracting.

Pros

  • A bold, large and clear display of future Events.
  • A nice new event experience that offers background images from Unsplash or your personal camera roll. Flexible options for countdown time unit, display image brightness and notification event (send a message to your future self!)
  • A wide variety of useful premium features — Automatic themes, customisable Layouts, Size options, new event layouts.

Cons

  • The Premium upgrade is a subscription of £8.99 per year or £0.99 per month. While subscriptions support ongoing development, this isn’t the type of app I would normally subscribe towards!

Countdown (00 App Icon)

Simple Event Countdown Timer - iOS App Store Link

Simple Event Countdown Timer is simple and focused, showing a single view for upcoming and adding new events, a black background theme and a monospace font

Pros

  • A direct, single screen interface. View upcoming events, add new events, move position and change details all with in the same screen.
  • No ads! A simple, focused app.
  • With the single list view and the simplest ‘add new event' feature, this app seems ideal for regular week-week event countdowns.

Cons

  • No images, no text customisation, no frills. Good, and bad depending on your use case.

Day Tracker

Day Counter. Count Up & Down - iOS App Store Link

Day Tracker has a bright, bold visual identity. Lots of neon green and lilac blue. Lovely, but very bright.

Pros

  • A bold, bright and lovely visual identity. This app really stands out from the crowd.
  • An easily accessibly Past Events list to see Current and Future events. Look forward to new memories, and reminisce on old ones!
  • Count Up and Count Down features offer a good level of flexibility.

Cons

  • While the bright, bold visual identity is lovely, it won’t fit every upcoming event. While it may work for an upcoming rave party, it wouldn’t more somber events. The lack of customisation hurts this overall.

Final Recommendation: Days App

The final recommendation, Days App. A perfect mix of features, price and visual design.

After considering 16 options, creating 16 Mysterious Vacation events and reviewing a whole lot of great apps, and some not-so-great apps, my final recommendation is the Days app.

The Days Countdown App offers a great mix of flexibility, clean and focused design, free features and reasonable upgrades. It does exactly what I want — and I’m sure is the best iPhone (iOS) Countdown App for most people in 2020.

Now it’s time to go pay my £2 (2 pound) upgrade cost and add in my big September event!