Review: Realmac Software Clear for Mac
One of the biggest complaints with Clear for the iPhone, a venture between Impending and RealMac Software, was that it was iPhone-only. Although an iPad version would make some sense, the concern was that other options (including Apple’s own Reminders) synchronize across devices and even to the desktop. Last week, Clear for the Mac was released and also introduces iCloud synchronization.
If you have used Clear for the iPhone, the $15 ($7 on launch, $10 for early adopters as of this writing) Clear for the Mac should be very familiar. Besides including the built-in themes (and honoring the unlocked extra themes), the app looks, acts, and feels like what one would expect a Mac counterpart to be. It doesn’t really add any features, but the whole purpose is to have Clear on your Mac, not have Clear Pro.
After a brief tutorial, the application encourages you to enable iCloud synchronization. After doing this, all of my existing lists appeared and seemed to work perfectly. I even used Emojis to illustrate some lists and they appeared just fine, thanks to OS X Mountain Lion’s built-in support.
The most obvious difference is that you can’t manipulate Clear directly with your fingers, as you would on an iOS device. Instead, users of trackpads have the advantage, as gestures work pretty similarly, although your pointer would be over whatever item you want to act upon. A swipe up go up a layer, a click selects a list or setting, aswipe left delete an item, a swipe right mark an item as complete, and a swipe down clears all completed items. Some keyboard shortcuts have been implemented, as have registering certain clicks in blank areas or typing anywhere registering as generating a new item. One handy set of shortcuts are that lists are accessible by pressing Command and the number of the list.
Another difference is the ability to tear off lists, allowing you to have multiple lists and the menu (or another list) on screen all at once. This is good if you have a few work-related task lists on your work Mac, a few personal ones on your home Mac, and managing everything in between on your iPhone. The people being Clear really did a great job of making sure iCloud synchronization worked well. A year after getting iCloud, many developers still struggle with it.
If you’re a user who has a mouse, Clear may feel a bit more awkward than the gesture-heavy trackpad experience. It still works, although we found the keyboard shortcuts to be more helpful. Still, with OS X Mountain Lion as a requirement, we suspect many users will have trackpads—especially with Apple’s stellar MacBook sales.
The big question is if Clear for the Mac is worth the considerably larger sum over the iPhone version, especially when competent task list tools already exist, sometimes for free. While Apple’s own Reminders apps are good options and work well, Clear has gained a loyal following for its slick interface, gamification of task lists, and simplicity. If you already use Clear on the iPhone, the purchase should be a no-brainer, given the amount of care and integration the team have focused on. If you don’t use Clear, the cost may be off-putting for both applications, but it does provide a well-designed, Apple-centric option for those who hate traditional task list apps.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
Clear was an interesting take on task lists for the iPhone, and having a connected Mac version is a welcome addition for many.
Pros: Well-designed interface, simple and intuitive controls, tear-off-lists, iCloud synchronization
Cons: Mouse controls a bit awkward, may be a hard argument to use over the free or built-in options, especially since the cost is significantly higher than the iPhone version, doesn’t bring new features to the table