Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meal Timer

Meal Timer is my first Windows Phone 7 application (requires Mango update for WP7). There are a number of apps in the WP7 Marketplace that are ‘kitchen timers’ and allow you to set reminders or alarms for  particular time, but Meal Timer is unique (as far as I know) in that it allows multiple timers to be set so they all end at the same time. This means the application itself ensures your meat, vegetables, sauces and other meal components are all ready at the same time. Unlike most other kitchen timers that assume you are cooking immediately, you can schedule the meal to be ready at a particular time, and Meal Timer will set alarms so everything is ready at that time (or you can start cooking right away if you want).


So, how does it work ?
First, download the application from the Marketplace. Then open the application from your application list (or pin it to your start menu for a beautiful tile showing a tasty homemade hamburger, and open it via the tile).

When you first open Meal Timer you will see the main ‘panorama screen’ which will be set which will be scrolled to the ‘components’ page and looks like this;
EmptyComponentsPageTo start, you need to add some items to cook. Do this by pressing the button at the bottom of the screen marked with a + symbol. This will bring up the ‘Add Component’ window.

EmtpyAddItemDialogClick in the ‘Name’ field and type the name of something you’re going to cook, i.e 'Chicken’. Note, you don’t have to add the items in any particular order, Meal Timer will sort the items into the correct cooking order based on time, later when we tell it we’re ready to start or schedule cooking.

AddItemDialogItemNameOnlyWith the item name entered, you now need to enter the cooking time. First, you need to go to the cooking time box. The easiest way to do this is to press the enter button on the on-screen keyboard. Otherwise, you can tap in the visible portion of the Cooking Time field (you can flick up on any part of the dark background area behind the text fields to scroll them up so it’s easier to see and tap on the Cooking Time field). Alternatively, you can press the back button on the phone itself to close the keyboard, then tap in the Cooking Time field, but pressing enter is the easiest thing to do.

EnterCookingTimeOnce you’re in the cooking time field, simple enter either a number of whole minutes, or a number of hours and minutes separated by a colon (:) character. For example, 75 and 1:15 both refer to 1 hour and fifteen minutes. When you’ve entered the time, either press enter on the on-screen keyboard or the button at the bottom of the screen marked with a plus to add this item and start entering another. If you’ve entered all the items you want to enter (or if this is the last item you intend to enter), you can press the button at the bottom of the screen marked with a tick (check mark). If you’ve changed your mind about entering the item currently shown on screen, press the back button on your phone to return to the main screen.

ComponentsListScreenshotBack on the main screen the components list will now show all the items you’ve entered.
If you want to change the time you entered on one of these items, click on the red area representing the item. If you want to remove an item from the list entirely, click on the trash can icon on the right hand side of the item you want to delete.
You can scroll the list of meal components up and down by swiping with your finger.
To start or schedule cooking, press the button at the bottom of the screen marked with an arrow head (like the play button on a DVD player). This will bring up the Start Cooking dialog.

StartCookingScreenshotIf you want to start cooking right away, click the Start Now check box to place a check mark in it. Alternatively leave the Start Now check box unchecked, select the time you want your meal to be ready at below it. Note, you can use the settings screen to change the default meal time. When you’ve made your choice, press the button at the bottom of the screen marked with a tick (check mark). If you’re not ready yet or have changed your mind, press the back button on your phone. When you do start or schedule cooking you will be returned to the main page and the meal components you entered earlier will move across to the timers page. You can move between the components and timers pages by swiping left or right on screen when the main page is shown.

TimersScreenshotThe various components of the meal will be sorted by cooking time so the item that is going to take the longest to cook is started first, and so on. An ‘alarm’ will be set on your phone for the time each item needs to start cooking, and another alarm will be set for when all the items are ready. These alarms will go off even if you close the Meal Timer application.
If you leave Meal Timer running, the components on the timers page will turn read when they need to start cooking (as well as the alarm going off) and the system will start counting down the time left for that item. Each timer shows you the scheduled start time, the total cooking time for that item, and the time remaining (counting down while the timer is running).
Timers that are grey indicate they have not started yet. When a timer completes, it turns black for about a second and then disappears.
You can scroll the list of timers up and down by swiping with your finger.

And that’ about it ! There is a setting screen, which you can access from the main page by pressing the three little dots near the bottom right and then choosing ‘settings’ from the menu that pops up. The settings screen allows you to set the sound used for the alarm and the default meal time, as well as delete any data the application has saved, and there are also shortcuts to rate/review and buy the application in the WP7 Marketplace.
So, what if you want to schedule multiple courses for a single meal ? Easy, just perform the steps above once for each course and choose a different ‘Meal Ready at Time’ for each course on the Start Cooking screen. All the timers will mix in together on the timers page, but all the items for each course (scheduled together) will be ready at the same time. Simple !
If you have any suggestions, problems or queries please contact me via yort@yortondotnet.com.

Visit Meal Timer on Facebook.

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