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Timer4TM

 

Summary

Toastmasters International® is an excellent organization with many local chapters to help people get over their fear of public speaking and build leadership skills. Members take turns filling the roles for each meeting, including timing the speeches. But while there were plenty of timer apps, they weren't well adapted to the needs of TM members and clubs.

The primary design goal of this app was to make it possible to keep up with the Timer's responsibilities in a club or contest, by customizing as needed before the meeting and then allowing quick switches between timing tasks. You can use it for your own speech practice, of course.

 

Features

Main View – Timers

Main View, Speech timer The app has predefined timers for common speeches and meeting activities. The drop-down at the top of the main screen shows the name of the current timer; tap it to display and select from the list of available timers.

Main View, list of defined timers The default timer is "Stopwatch". Only the Start (Stop) and Reset buttons are needed, so the other controls are hidden. The Reset button sets the elapsed time back to 0:00. The Start button will (by default) begin from the last stop time, so you can tap Stop to pause for an interruption in a speech.

The "Speech" timer offers the standard range of 5-7 minutes with 30 second grace. To adjust any of the Green, Yellow, or Red timing values or the grace period temporarily (for the next speech), just tap the respective time button. If you only change the Green and/or Red time, the Yellow time will be auto-adjusted halfway between them.

Dialog to adjust selected time In the time adjustment pop-up window, tap or flick each column to change the minutes (New in Version 2.0: up to 99) or the seconds (in 15 second intervals). The checkbox determines whether the light will be displayed at the given time and the corresponding time will be used for speech qualification. For the grace period, the two checkboxes determine whether additional seconds will be granted before (-) and/or after (+) the time range.

The "Table Talk" and "Evaluation" timers are set to standard times. (Note that, per contest rules, an impromptu speech does not include 30 seconds of grace before the minimum Green time.)

The progress bar shows marks in relative positions for the selected timing lights, including the grace periods (if Show grace is enabled in Settings; see below.) A vibration signal will be generated at each light change, including at the grace periods (if shown). A short vibration pattern may also be generated a few seconds before each signal. (As club Timer, it's easy to be so engrossed by the current speech that you forget to turn on the speaker's lights!)

If you press the BACK key, the app will (by default) warn you that the app will exit and shut down. If you need to switch to another app while the timer is running, press the HOME key instead. Then to return to Timer4TM, tap the APPS key to find it in the App Overview list.

You can copy, modify, or delete these predefined timers to customize a set for the activities in your club or local contest. For example, you may find it convenient to create an additional timer for "Written Evaluation", the 1-2 minutes of feedback or judging after each speech, or append the name of each speaker to a copy of the Speech timer. (See the Edit Timers feature below.)

 

Main View, menu of action icons New in Version 2.0: Tap the icons at the top-right of the screen to access the following features:

Edit Timers Main Menu, icon for editing timer list

Edit View, list of timers Edit Timers displays the list of currently defined timers. Tap on one of the names to view or edit the time range in the Edit Timer form, or tap and hold to display the Copy and Delete shortcuts. Drag the Move icon (at the right end) up or down to move a timer to a new position in the list. And tap the BACK key to return to the main screen.

Edit View, timer settings for Written Evaluation The Edit Timer form (see right) shows the timing options for the selected timer. These will be the default time settings when the timer is selected from the main view.

The text field allows you to rename the defined timer. The timer name should be unique. You may tap the Next (or down-arrow) key on the keyboard to advance to the next text input field, quickly changing all of the time values in one pass. Alternately, tap the Edit View, icon for time adjustment dialog button to the right of each time value to use the time adjustment pop-up window.

The checkbox next to each light determines whether the light will be displayed at the given time and be used for speech qualification. For the grace period, the two checkboxes determine whether additional seconds will be granted before (-) or after (+) the time range.

Finally, the Include on report checkbox determines whether use of the define timer should be added to Report Times. As a general rule, a timer shouldn't be included on the report if the Green and Red timing lights are not both active.

Tap Done to save your changes, Copy to create and edit a duplicate of the timer as shown, or Delete to remove the timer from the defined list. You may also press the BACK key to exit without saving your changes.

The app checks your time values when you tap Done. If a timing light is not going to be used, you can set its time value the same as the adjacent light but the values should not decrease between Green or Yellow or Red.

See the example screen to the right for how a 2-minute "Written Evaluation" timer might be configured.

Report Times Main Menu, icon for speech timing report

Each time you stop and reset a timer, the app adds the speech times to a quick report for later reference. The report includes the role (the name of the defined timer), the time of day that the speech started, the allowed time range, the time used, and whether the speech qualified (Q) or disqualified (D). To qualify, the time used (total elapsed time) must fall within the default or modified time range including any grace period before or after.

If part of the report is not visible, drag your finger over the report area to scroll it, or turn the device sideways for a wider display. Tap OK or the BACK key to dismiss the report, Share to send or save it outside the app, or Clear to reset the report contents.

Timing report view with Share options displayed

New in Version 2.1: The report can be copied to the Clipboard, saved to your smartphone's Documents folder in simple Web page format, or shared through other available apps. The report is shared in both HTML format and tab-delimited "plain text", so you can paste it into an email or into a spreadsheet like Google Sheets. (On Android 6 or later, you will be prompted to allow access to "photos, media, files" in order to Save to Documents the first time.)

By default, the report entries will be retained for a week after your meeting.

Settings (on Main Menu, icon for overflow menu containing Settings menu item overflow menu)

Many settings are included so you can customize the app to your preferences or to the needs of your club or contest.

New in Version 2.2: Settings have been added to assist those with visual impairments, and a few settings have been reworded for easier understanding.

Settings View, all app settings Show progress displays the progress bar and timing marks (for timers other than "Stopwatch"). Uncheck to hide them.

Show grace displays a "–" and "+" over the top of the signal light when the timer reaches the respective grace period before the minimum time or after the maximum time, and will also appear as timing marks. If shown, they will also be accompanied by vibration signals and/or the selected tone.

Show more color (formerly labeled Show color swatch) displays a larger rectangle instead of a signal light to make the colors even easier to see from a distance. The fewer other features that are shown, the larger the rectangle that can be displayed (when the phone is held vertically).

Show time displays the elapsed time, whether the timer is running or stopped. But you may want to hide it while the timer is running if you find it distracting or if it's inappropriate for a contest situation.

Allow screen timeout lets the device dim the display and lock the screen while the main view is displayed. This can save battery power, but you will need to wake up your device to stop or start the timer or receive the vibration signals.

Press to stop provides an eyes-free way to stop the timer in case you have the device display facing the speaker and away from you. Just hold your finger against the signal light area of the screen until a short vibration confirms that the timer has stopped. (If you accidentally tap Reset instead, you can always display the report to see how long the last speech was.)

Signal with vibration (formerly Vibration signals) offers three levels of vibration alerts:

•    Never to turn them all off;

•    At timing light change to vibrate only when the signal light color changes or grace period is reached;

•    Also a few seconds ahead to create a short vibration pattern a few seconds in advance of any of other signal changes.

The final level is handy if you need an advance warning to reach over and change the switches on your club's timing light box.

Signal with sound allows a ringtone on the phone to be selected, and it will be played (once) at each signal light change. (Be sure to choose a brief ringtone!) Per contest rules, a visually impaired speaker may request an audio cue instead of lights to signal the time.

Main View, two examples of visual aids Show visual aid offers two experimental options, for those with color blindness or other visual impairment: the first letter of the color or a high-contrast pattern. (See samples at right. Note that each high-contrast segment has a spot of signal color to help the contest timer or speaker's assistant follow along.) If you find one of these options helpful, please let us know.

Show large labels displays larger text on the main views and timer lists, which was the default style on previous versions of this app. But you may not need that extra boost if you have made ALL of the fonts larger on your phone (in the system settings for Display).

Confirm exit displays a warning dialog if you press the BACK key to exit the app. While exiting with BACK is normal behavior for an Android app, it's very easy to accidentally press it on many devices and you might find that inconvenient while timing a speech in a meeting! (If the timer is running, it will stop when the app exits.)

Count pause time will include the total elapsed time between tapping Stop and resuming with Start. Leave this unchecked if you want to be able to pause during an interruption of a speech without counting the extra seconds against the speaker's total time. But if you find yourself accidentally tapping Stop when you didn't intend to, this option will allow the timer to show the total time since the speaker began.

Keep report (formerly Report expiration) determines how long the app will save report entries, from one calendar day to as many as 4 weeks. This gives you enough time to report on the meeting later, e.g. for club minutes, without having to remember to tap Clear before starting the next meeting. If there is more than one day's worth of report entries, however, the starting time column will show the date of each entry.

About Timer4TM displays the current version and the web address of this support site.

 

Known Bugs and Future Enhancements

Please send your questions and comments to feedback@validconcept.com.

Is the app working poorly on your Android device (before or after the update to Version 2.x)? Does it stop suddenly? If so, please send an email and let us know the make and model (and version of Android if you can – look for it in the device Settings, About [phone]).

By the way, if you Delete every timer on the list, the app will recreate the original timer list.

Due to a quirk in some Android versions, to reset any temporary time adjustments back to default values you may have to select another timer and then switch back.

If you Share a timing report:Android 10 Share window with Timer4TM options

•    Selecting an app directly may share only the plain text version of the report; but if you select Copy to Clipboard you will be able to Paste the HTML formatted version into apps that accept tables (like Mail or Sheets).

•    In Android 10, the pop-up window (see right) offers two Copy options: The Copy button at top-right only copies the plain text version of the report, while Copy to Clipboard (under the Timer4TM icon) includes the formatted version.

•    In Android 6 or later, if you select Save to Documents but then deny "access to photos, media, and files", any Save attempt later may fail (silently). To remedy that, you must go into system Settings > Apps > Permissions and enable Storage for Timer4TM.

•    In Android 5.x, the "Report saved to" success message doesn't show the folder path.

Some devices are too sensitive and change screen orientation when you set them down on the table. There are a number of free apps that lock the screen rotation, and Samsung's Galaxy series devices have the control built in (hint: drag down the notification bar). And now, Android 9+ allows you to turn off auto-rotate by default but tell the current app to change its orientation to match your device (hint: look for the rotation icon to the right of the HOME key).

"Table Talk" may be a less common name for a short impromptu speech, but we respect the organization's trademarks. You can use Edit Timers to rename it to anything you like. (Users of a previous version keep their timer list across updates.)

While Timer4TM v2.x doesn't support versions of Android before 4.x, we hope now to support tablets better and to offer new features as requested by our loyal users.