This visual timer app's a flat delight

It's meant to give small children a sense of time, but Tico Timer's also a fabulously different-looking timer for the rest of us.

The best thing about school, we can all agree, was when you got to watch schools TV programmes preceded by an on-screen timer counting down to the beginning of the show. Even if the programmes themselves weren't up to much, the on-screen countdown could be relied on to be an exciting slice of rudimentary animated fun, right? Right?

Please yourselves. We mention it because that's what Tico Timer immediately put us in mind of. It's a visual timer aimed at children; you tell it how long you want it to count down for (from one second to half an hour), pick a pattern and a jaunty tune to play along in the background, and Tico Timer counts down the seconds in one of a selection of visually appealing ways.

You might get a grid of dots, with one disappearing every second, or the screen slowly filling up with colour one line at a time, or perhaps a giant dot that gradually shrinks to nothing. The idea is that it provides an excellent visual way of explaining concepts of time to small children, even if they haven't yet grasped numbers, and you can't argue with that. A toddler might not understand a numerical countdown, but wrap the same countdown up as a set of disappearing dots and it's a lot easier to grasp. Which, we reckon, is exactly what those schools programmes were up to with their animated countdown clocks back in the day.

Which is great, but guess what? Tico Timer is also a fabulously different little timer app that you don't need to be an infant to appreciate. It works perfectly well - we like that it tells you the amount of time remaining in actual numbers if you hold a finger on the screen - and it boasts a rather sweet (and flat) aesthetic. We'd much rather have it on hand than the standard Apple clock app next time we want to soft boil an egg.

Key info

  • Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
  • Price: $0.99/£0.69
  • Developer: Ricardo Fonseca
  • Version: 1.0
  • App size: 10.9MB
  • Age rating: 4+

Words: Jim McCauley

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