Review: Realmac Software Clear for iPhone

by on February 15, 2012

With iOS 5, users were handed a number of new features, one being the Reminders app. Although Reminders is fairly capable and should satisfy most users’ needs, there’s always a market for third-party options. Announced at the Macworld|iWorld Expo, the much-anticipated Clear, by Realmac Software and Impending, is to-do list focusing on reducing clutter.

Clear Clear Clear Clear
Clear Clear Clear Clear

Currently selling for 99¢ ($1.99 will be the standard price), there appears to be not a whole lot to Clear—the icon is probably the flashiest part of the app (it’s a series of checkmarks over red, orange, and yellow stripes—and for some reason screams ’70s baseball). Once in the app, it’s essentially a three-layer navigation model (unlike the left/right scrolling interface traditionally in iOS apps), free of any standard iOS interface widgets, and might look more at home on Windows Phone 7—colorful, large rectangles on a black background. That’s the point. Things like push notifications, due dates, and notes are also absent.

The top layer features settings, themes, some helpful hints, and the list of the development team’s Twitter accounts. At the very top of this layer, there is an item of the number of lists you have. Tapping this takes you to the second layer, your lists. Tapping a list expands to show individual items. Both lists and items themselves work similarly.

Adding an item is as simple as tapping on a blank area, pulling down the top of the list, or un-pinching two existing items. Completing an item is accomplished with a swipe to the right, while deleting an item is done by swiping to the left. A completed item will stay on the list until you swipe up, clearing everything else. Tapping will let you rename an item, while tapping and holding will let you reorder list items. Make sense? The app includes a brief training screen and the controls actually are very intuitive, compared with the multiple taps of Apple’s built-in option.

In addition, Clear features sound effects and an incomplete badge on the icon (both of which you can turn on or off), and multiple color themes. Many feature gradually changing colors, so your most important items really stand out. The default, Heat Map, starts with red and gradually fades to yellow. Other options include Graphite, Pretty Princess, Lucky Clover, Theme Noir, and then occasional context-sensitive themes, based on what other apps you may have installed.

Although Reminders does quite a bit more, such as iCloud or Exchange synchronization, location-awareness, and due date reminders, there is something to be said about a simple list. Personally, I’ve tried to use Reminders, but just could not get into a regular routine (my iPhone is primarily my “work tracker”, while my Mac and iPad are often the tools for completing said work). So far, I’ve wanted to add items to Clear. Its interface begs to be used, much like that on Tweetbot.

Our biggest complaint about Clear is that a swipe down sometimes brings up the nub to load Notification Center (probably because of the lack of a singal/time/battery bar). Either way, it does not affect usage, unless you’d have two sequential downward swipes in a row. iPhone 4S users would probably miss the ability to add items via Siri (Apple has not opened its API yet).

If you’ve found yourself having trouble keeping an electronic to-do list, Clear is worth a try, especially for those who are sick of the list-with-checkboxes format. With its unique interface, sound effects, and animations, it almost feels more like a game than a productivity app. Maybe a future version will have Game Center support?

The biggest issue users will have is justifying the purchase over the numerous free alternatives, including Apple’s Reminders. Still, at the 99¢ introduction price, it’s a low price to pay for an arguably well-designed product.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

In a crowded field of iOS to-do apps, the brand-new Clear sets itself apart.

Pros: Well-designed interface, simple and intuitive controls

Cons: May be a hard argument to use over the free or built-in options

Rating: 8/10

The Facts

Product: Clear
Company: Realmac Software & Impending
Platform: iPhone (iOS 5 Required)
Price: $1.99 (99¢ introductory price / iTunes Link)

This post has been filed in iOS Apps, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Devices, Reviews