The sleep timer in Google Play Music is bewilderingly bad

It has been about six months since a sleep timer option became available in the Android version of Google Play Music, and in that time I have used it precisely once. Not because I have no need for it – I regularly nod off while listening to music – but because of how badly it has been implemented.

The last thing you need when awareness and sleep are competing to take control is to wade through an app in search of something. With that in mind, someone on the Play Music team decided to bury the sleep timer feature within a settings menu.

So, let’s imagine a typical scenario: you are tucked up in bed, listening to music and feeling dozy. Probably a good idea to set the sleep timer so as not to unnecessarily waste your phone’s battery and consume data.

To do this simplest of tasks takes six – count ‘em – steps. If you know a quicker way, then please do leave a comment below as it would be appreciated, but for now you have to do the following:

  1. Swipe down or click back so you can begin to access the side menu.
  2. Swipe in from the left of the screen (or click the hamburger icon in the search field) to reveal said menu.
  3. Click ‘Settings’.
  4. Scroll down until you see the ‘Sleep Timer’ option, then click on it.
  5. Set the duration in the most nonsensical and convoluted way imaginable.
  6. Then click save.

And here is all that in video form:

A couple of things you may have noticed in the video are that it took me almost 30 seconds to set the timer and that I also got it wrong initially when I set it to 15 hours and not minutes, which highlights just how bad it is.

It is totally confusing. Using a 24-hour clock to set the duration rather than a cut-off time makes no sense and you would normally only find a time-picker like this when setting an alarm clock or calendar appointment.

My mishap happened because I accidentally chose 15 hours by mistake and then, in order to correct it I had to select 00 (for hours) followed by 15 minutes. How silly is this? Frankly, I struggle to believe none of these flaws occurred to the designers as they are no-brainers.

A much, much, much better implementation would be to do something similar to Pocket Casts: place an icon near the media buttons or in the overflow menu and, instead of asking users to select precise minutes or hours, give them 15-minute increments to chose from. Easy, eh?

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