Clear: An iPhone App That Lets You Simply And Elegantly Get The Little Things Done [Review]


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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 Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Verdict

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.

Rating: ★★★☆

  • manda907

    I have no problems creating a new task by using one hand to spread apart 2 tasks in the list, using just my 1st finger and thumb. 

    I feel the app is much more natural feeling than using say Reminders, or some of the other more “advanced” task managers out there. Realmac wouldn’t release something like this if they didn’t think it was going to be great. :-)

  • Joneil Angeles

    Just got the app and it took a couple minutes getting used to but it works as advertised. I love the interface based on multi-touch gestures and the only gripe I have is that it doesn’t have the Siri integration like Reminders (no surprise there). Other than that, it’s an excellent app for todo lists and whatnot. Worth the purchase since it’s only $.99 at the moment.

  • facebook-100000670318505

    Downloaded it great app thanks cult of mac

  • Brandon

    Thanks for pointing this one out to me!  I have been using Errands for simple shopping lists and things like that, but the interface is faaaaar too cluttered for what I want to do with it.  Clear is great.  Already made a shopping list and a couple of others.  Love the interface and everyone who has it should go thru the tips and tricks section at the main level for some neat little tidbits.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    A good review. It’s gorgeous to look at and the intuitive way the gestures work is kind of breathtaking, but the notifications swipe does get in the way of items on the top of the screen and also the bottom for my jailbroken iPhone. And for me at least, it’s off putting to have each list fullscreen without any visual representation as to which list it is. Sure, I can tell by looking at the items, but I’d like to just know. One obvious thing that would help with that problem would be  the ability to assign different theme colors for different lists. Right now it’s one size fits all. 

    EASILY worth the .99. Also interested in Steps which forgoes the gestures in favor of open closed circles and will be available for iPhone, iPad and OS X.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    But you still have to hold it in the other hand or have something to set it on. I think he meant one-handed in the sense of being able to hold it and use gestures with the same hand. Which can be done using the tap or pull down to add new item.

  • LukeBornheimer

    Though I’m blown away by it’s simplicity, design and speed, Clear’s biggest challenge (beyond the lack of syncing) is usability and intuitiveness. You can read my thoughts about the app on Quora at

    tl;dr Almost nothing is intuitive and the interface will be jarring/polarizing to the (average) user.

  • sciear

    do you realize how many ad servers and cookie trackers are called by this (Cult of Mac) page?  install NoScript and see who these guys are selling your tracks to. i see 19 blocked (like and and plus another dozen i allow, like disqus, twitter, and never seen a page with more than Cnet before…

    so, Clear has a 30-char limit? so much for URLs in a note.
    also, Clear has no notifications, no reminders, no push. for a to-do app, in my book that means “nothing to see here”.

  • laytoncy

    How does the shopping list work on Clear.  Right now I’m using Evernote for a shopping list and was just curious how similar/different the list feature is on Clear.

  • VodRedB

    You’ve peaked my interest. Do you have a link to any information regarding Steps? Tried googling it but that led nowhere.