When I ask myself what timezone a friend (or more recently, colleague) lives in, I fire up the Clocks app on my iPhone or Every Time Zone when I’m on my Mac. In many cases, this needs quite some time and disrupts my workflow; I need to go back to my mail or calendar or any other situation which required this knowledge (meetings, mails or projects) and apply the time differences to them. Yesterday, I stumbled upon Timelanes by B-ReelProducts, immediately bought it, and from time to time while trying it out, I remembered some awkward situations in which I could have needed exactly this app to enhance my workflow.
Timelanes basically is Every Time Zone on the go — with some handy extras and a different, but in no way worse UI. When launching it for the first time, the app automatically locates your current timezone and displays it styled as a horizontal lane. This way, it centralizes your chosen hour of the day, plus indicating the exact current time with a small clock indicator. At the same time, you can easily switch between the days or come back to the current time using the arrows and the clock button at the center of the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, or you can scroll horizontally until you reach the exact point in time you need (Timelanes works both in portrait and landscape mode).
From here, comparing timezones and times is just two taps away. Using the plus button, you can search for any city in the world — not just those standard “indicating” cities like NYC or Mumbai — and add them to your lanes. Those behind your current timezone are displayed above, those ahead are arranged below it. Tap the weekday information and it will change to the actual date, so you can see when the new day begins in every timezone; swipe one, and you can delete them again. Here lays a small and more or less the only design flaw of the app: the edges of the delete button are scruffy and look pretty ugly in my opinion.
You can scroll to every hour of the day, and all the other lanes will smoothly change to their respective time. With that, two extra features hidden behind the sharing button in the navigation bar are visible: creating calendar events (currently only with the iOS calendar) and mailing these comparisons. This way, Timelanes combines the information delivery with the two most important following actions to it, something I never saw in such apps before. It may sound a bit exaggerated, but to me this is a big step and the reason why I surely will use Timelanes in the future: when choosing these options you can create either a new calendar event with the current time as the start and the other timezones pasted into the notes panel, or a new email message containing a list of all timezones added to Timelanes attached to it.
Besides these features, which got embedded with standard iOS UI elements, Timelanes also features an intuitive and well-adapted UI that fits its purpose and looks nice. It’s clean and uses only at few points sometimes more, sometimes less subtle colors to indicate things like the current date or your own timezone. The rest of the app uses plain black numbers and pictograms. And I don’t exactly know why, but I just love that navigation bar. It perfectly fits my aesthetic ideas of how plastic UI has to look like: it’s unobtrusive and perfectly colored to round up the whole screen (completely black possibly would have been too invasive).
My conclusion: for everyone on the Internet or in other businesses who works with people in different timezones, Timelanes can be a real timesaver. Although the calendar and mail features are simply embedded and their functionality cannot be changed or personalized in any way, the combination of checking and using compared timezones has never been done this well as far as I know. It’s worth a try: get Timelanes for just $0.99 on the App Store.
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