It has taken me a couple of weeks to refresh and recharge from my first Macworld experience (now known as Macworld | iWorld, of course). But during that time of getting clear I had the opportunity to give the latest offering by RealMac Software (Rapidweaver, LittleSnapper) in collaboration with Milen and Impending, Inc. a thorough “beta” test drive. Coincidentally, the iOS app is called Clear, and it is one of the more compelling list-makers/task managers I’ve seen for the iPhone.
The innovative thing about Clear is that it is entirely gesture-based in execution. There are no visible buttons or sliders; you use a series of gestures to interact with it, and that is what makes it stand apart from other iPhone list apps and task managers.
The fluidity of Clear is its biggest selling point. You can swipe left to delete a task or swipe right to complete it. Completed tasks stay at the bottom of your list (grayed out) until you swipe up — then they are cleared from the screen. I think the whole idea of Clear is to have as friction-free an experience as possible, getting the visual clutter out-of-the-way altogether.
The default settings have the colours represented in shades of red through yellow, which can be changed to a variety of other options (including a Tweetbot-inspired theme if you have said app installed on your iPhone) by accessing the top-level menu. To get to that menu, you need swipe down twice from your list screen. If you swipe down once, you get to see what lists you have. From there, you can dive into a list by touching the number of tasks you have on the list. Then you can add tasks to the list by either touching the screen or swiping down slightly from a task on the screen. You can also move tasks around by holding down your finger on a task and shifting it around. You’ll see that the colours change based on where tasks sit on your screen, with the deeper (or perhaps more intense) colours are at the top of your lists.
Clear takes some getting used to. The gesture-based controls are bound to excite plenty of iPhone users, and the elegant design is very reminiscent of an app Clear pays homage to: Tapbots’ Tweetbot. That said, there are some problems with going solely with gestures. Keep in mind that Notification Center can get in the way of any task or item at the top of the screen, which is a minor annoyance. And while you can also add tasks in between other tasks by spreading your fingers out between two tasks, I tried to do so with one hand and it didn’t respond. I needed to use two hands, which is a pain. You’d be better off just adding tasks and moving them around as you need rather than trying to add tasks between tasks from the get-go.
But the biggest problem with having no visible buttons is that there are no visible buttons. For simple lists, Clear is a great task manager. But for more advanced productivity-types, since you can’t see the lists without swiping down initially, it can be rather cumbersome. Which is clearly not the intent.
Clear is now available in the App Store for the introductory price of just 99 cents, so if you’re new to these kinds of apps or just want to give it a spin to check how fluid its user interface is, then you’re not going to be all that much out-of-pocket. Those who should give Clear a look are those looking for a fun and beautiful list/task manager that also makes you feel good about getting the little things done. But if you need more than a simple to-do list app that looks (and acts) pretty, Clear is clearly not going to be for you.