It’s Clear, Simple Can Be Better – A new look at iPhone Task Lists

By now, I’m sure you have seen all the press Realmac Software has been getting with their ‘Clear’ To Do app. All that was shown was a nice video of the app being used. But, me included, all got excited about a new use of finger gestures to get things done on our iPhones.

The concept is simple, make getting to the work easy and it can get done. With Clear, it appears your tasks are your own and seeing, managing and clearing off the list is what is important.

Clear does not offer sharing your list with others, or saving to your cloud storage, or adding icons to list items, or setting a due date, or creating repeating tasks (well, sort of). Clear does offer the ability to create list of things you need to get done and work through that list without tapping. It is also very enlightening that check boxes and ‘tap for more info’ isn’t needed, Realmac Software is offering a fresh look at UI possibilities.

Onto what your get for your hard earned dollar (US$, introductory pricing). Everything in Clear has been divided down to three layers. There is a list of projects, above that layer is the settings area and below each project is the list of items that make up the project. With the exception of typing a title, everything is done with a swipe… ‘gestures’ has come to the iPhone!

 Start off by setting up a new Project. Just tap the screen to create a project and type in it’s name. The number that appears next to the Project name is the quantity of un-finished tasks in that list. If you accidentally tap and a new project box appears, just don’t type anything in it for a title and any other action will result in Clear removing the empty/no named project. When your ready to start your list, tap Done on the keyboard, then tap the Project.

Tapping the Project title will take you to a screen to start your list. Tap the screen to create a new Task item, then type in what the task is. To create another task, tap Done on the keyboard or just tap the screen. Clear offers the ability to rename Tasks and Project titles by simply tapping the text.

Just keep adding items to your Clear task list. When your list is longer than a page and you have no place to tap to create new, remember you can still add new tasks by pulling the list down slightly to see a ‘Pull to Create Item’ then ‘Release’… at which time, you should release to add! Pulling the list down further will take you up a layer to the Projects list.

Don’t worry about getting the items created in the order you need them to be. To resort your list just drag an item up/down with your finger. The coloring on that item will change to it’s new place on the list. Darker at top for ‘next’ or ‘high priority’ to lighter coloring farther down the list.

When your done with a Task, just move it to the right. Clear also offers this action at the Project layer is you want to mark a whole project as done in one swipe. A simple swipe of my thumb and the task is done… it seems more natural than tapping a check box, yet I have lived with checkbox lists my whole life.

A completed item is moved to the bottom of the list. It’s color is removed and a line through the task text appears. If you decide that you aren’t done with the item and need it back on the list, drag the item to the right to have it appear in your list again.

Swiping to the left on a item deletes it from your task list. You are basically throwing the task to the left. The ‘X’ that is uncovered during the action is just a reminder of what Clear is about to do to that Task and is not there to be tapped. When you delete an item, there is no Undo so that item is gone off your list, not as completed but rather completely gone. Perfect for removing the Clean Garage task off the list. This delete action works on the Project layer too for completely removing a Project.

To move from a Task List to the List of Project, swipe downward on the screen. This downward swipe works the same throughout Clear as a way to move up a layer no mater what layer your on.

Another way to go from the task list to the list of projects is to pinch the whole page using two fingers. Clear scrunches up the list and the Projects start coming in from the top. I know, it’s all just silly graphics, but it adds to the experience. Remember, I’m the guy who left the Trash animation ‘On’ so I could see my note pages crumple up and be tossed into the little trash can on the Newton. As long as graphic actions don’t take time away from getting to my info, it’s a nice touch to see my fingers are doing the right thing.

Like task items, renaming a Project in Clear is done by tap/hold the project name. Tap a Project to go to the Task list within it.  Or, swipe the list upward to return to the last list you where in.

Swiping down on the list of projects take you up a layer to Clear’s settings. Tap to view more info/adjustments for each. Swipe the whole list upward to return to your list of projects.

Just about everywhere you see a demo or screen shot of the app, the tasks are in Orange. Clear actually provides 5 color options for your task lists. This is an overall setting and not tied to a particular list, so a color choice effects all lists.

More settings – Not sure about the Sound Effects and Vibration yet, when those would be used since Clear doesn’t offer the ability to add a time/date to a task, time will tell. For App Badge and Contextual Badge options, it’s nice to have the number show up on the iPhone’s Launcher icon if you are using the app to track what you need to get done for the day.

Will I use Clear now that I have it on my iPhone or will I tap/hold to delete it. Actually, it stays! Due to it’s simplicity and being able to slide a thumb to do everything except type a new Task, Clear should be able to handle all my daily personal tasks quite nicely. Now, what app will next jump on the simple swipe/colorize UI?