It's surprising to be impressed by an alarm clock - it either gets you up in the morning or it doesn't. But EnSight's well designed Radio Alarm app manages to add some pleasure to the agony of waking up early.
Radio Alarm offers features and customisation that far surpass Apple's native alarm, allowing you to set volume, snooze duration and toggle fade-in for a less jarring wakeup. You can also choose from a variety of alarm sounds, from the classic "rooster" to the if-you-use-this-you're-probably-insane "scream". And if you want to make yourself earn a few more precious moments of sleep, you can set the app to snooze only after being shaken. If you need help falling asleep after waking up to horrible screaming sound effects, the app even has a sleeping aid mode, with the usual generic distant gulls and babbling brooks to comfort you at bedtime.
But the real meat of Radio Alarm is, of course, the radio. The app has full support for Shoutcast's nearly 41,000 stations and comes with some considerately chosen presets. The interface is designed to mimic an old timey radio, with neat attention to detail in the various buttons and clicks - there's even an authentic sounding static effect when the app connects to a radio stream, as if you were scanning a real FM dial. If internet radio isn't your thing, your app can rouse you with your own songs too.
Radio Alarm supports iOS 4 multitasking, but it's a shame the pretty interface hasn't been upgraded to take advantage of the iPhone 4's screen. As well, the clock display could stand to be a little bigger. But Radio Alarm is about as rich as an app that hinges on a single function can get and manages to offer pleasant features without being bloated. $2.49. [Radio Alarm]