Our DNA is written in Swift

SpeakerClock 1.0

I like to watch the TED Talks, it’s always something novel and instructive and makes me believe that the world is generally moving towards a brighter future led by a handful of rather bright fellows.

Now one thing these guys do extremely well is to give a TALK. Through experimentation it was found that at that length the speaker is forced to condense his message and be as clear as possible to get his point across. This constraint is enforced by the famous TED speaker LED clock. (It’s actually a countdown and not a clock, but people seem to prefer using the word “clock” over “countdown”)

This is a countdown at the edge of the stage which at a glance shows you what your remaining speaking time is. Also there is a traffic light of sorts. Shortly before the end of the time a green light switches to yellow to signal that you have to start wrapping up your message. Red means that it’s time for the closing remarks.

Obviously there are dedicated devices out there which aim to fill exactly the same need of visualizing a speakers time constraint. And of course there are a couple of iPhone apps providing this functionality. My second choice of the name of my app was taken by Talk Timer. Yet another is Speech Timer Free which provides the traffic light and the Premium version of it even allows for exporting of your speaking log.

I might continue to wish I were a great and inspirational speaker, but in the meantime one thing that I CAN do is make such a countdown clock for iPhone. I just had to do it, because the thought of the clock kept popping up in my head and kept distracting me from other projects.

My goal for SpeakerClock was this:

  • emulate the famous TED clock as closely as possible
  • use big red LED numbers (for which I had invented DTLEDNumberView)
  • allow for all customization and setting via touch gestures, all on the main screen
  • use the second page solely to showcase DTAboutViewController

Version 1 uses the maximum size possible of the digits that is available in landscape mode. Because of this you can see the digits from several meters away which is necessary if you want to position it so that you can move freely while giving your speech. To maximize the size of the clock I had to move minutes and seconds closer together and wrap the traffic lights underneath.

I made it a special point to finish the app within a single day and so I left out several things which I can put it if there is any interest in this app at all. The art of 1.0 is to concentrate on the required core features and leave some of your brilliant ideas for future versions. Here are some ideas still on my mental drawing board:

  • German localization (and other major languages) – language is not critical to understand usage of the clock all texts are on the instructions and about pages
  • Multiple Presets – might be an idea for a freemium upgrade
  • Recording of speaking logs, summing up your total speaking time, exporting, sharing …

I made a YouTube video to demonstrate the app:

I sent the app to Apple yesterday. SpeakerClock will be available on the app store initially for free to get user feedback.

UPDATE: 2 days after submission SpeakerClock is now available on the app store.

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Categories: Updates


  1. That is really slick! I like the way you can adjust the green/yellow/red times.
    Can’t wait!

  2. hurray, a new app 🙂

  3. I was looking at your SpeakerClock app and I really like the way it is modeled after the TED conference countdown style. However, it is missing one feature I would like to have. I work with presentations that have multiple presenters and would like to create multiple countdowns from within a single presentation for each presenter. I would also like to have a way to tell from the countdown screen which section of the presentation is currently counting down. Is there any chance that you might add such a feature?

    A similar app that has this feature is Speaker Timer, but they limit the presentation to 5 parts, which is still to few for my presentations. Plus, they don’t have your nice stop light indicators.

  4. SpeakerClock already does have multiple presets. How would the feature you suggest be different from that?

  5. You developed nice timer, looks very similar to original TEDx LED timer, a bit retro too! 🙂

    I have also developed a version of my own. As a part of TEDxLjubljana crew, we needed a big timer for regular computers and I created one in Flash. Later I released an app version which is avaliable here:

    Keep it up! 😉