Clear is a new task management app from Realmac Software and it had quite the attention while I was down at Macworld. I was shown a demo from Nik Fletcher and was blown away by how nice it looked and how fun the interactions are.

The folks over at Realmac sent me a promo code, and an early look at the app, so let’s take a peek.

There is literally no UI chrome in Clear. No status bar, tabs — hell there aren’t even any buttons in the app. The entire app is driven by gestures, movements, and taps.

The idea of no buttons may sound confusing, but it is surprisingly intuitive to use Clear once you get going with it.

The biggest advantages to Clear over just about any other app I have used: it is concise and fast. You can’t get buried in the details with the app because there are no details to get lost in. You can actually only enter in a task that is under 30 characters long. Clear forces you to be clear.

Clear is the fastest way to enter in new tasks on my iPhone: swipe down/pinch open/tap to create a new item, start typing, pull down to create another, type, pulldown… and so on. It’s fast — faster than OmniFocus.

But Clear doesn’t sync, there are no backups of your data (beyond iCloud/iTunes backups). There is no Mac/PC client. So your data, your tasks, are only on your iPhone. This is what ultimately will keep a lot of people from trying Clear, but I think I have found a pretty neat use for it.

Where it Fits

The biggest question for me is: where do I use Clear if I am already using OmniFocus for everything? Within 5 minutes I found my answer: location specific lists. I am pretty tired of location reminders from OmniFocus and popping up at times when I can’t, or don’t want to, act on them — so I turned that feature off.

I still want those lists though, I just want and need those lists to be passive — and easy to dump lots of things into quickly.

Here’s the system I came up with:

That’s five lists in Clear that I don’t use/need in OmniFocus.

  • To OmniFocus: this is pretty simple, but why not just input into OmniFocus? Clear is faster, so if I am in a meeting and want to input a lot of things fast, Clear is going to be a better option. I also can’t get distracted by adding due dates and contexts and creating projects. I can do that later on my iPad, for now let’s just get the tasks down.
  • Thoughts: random things I think of that I may want to remember? Check. The length limitation is also helpful in paring down the thought to the lowest denominator. Keeping these non-actionable thoughts out of OmniFocus, but somewhere more handy that Notesy is great.
  • Drug Store: Next time I go, I need to buy…
  • Hardware Store: Next time I go, I need to buy…
  • Groceries: I will be hungry if I don’t buy…
  • Posts: I want to write about…

All of this could be done in OmniFocus. All of it used to be done in OmniFocus. With Clear I hope to not get tangled up in the planning of these tasks. I just jot them down and walk away. Nothing I put in Clear is time sensitive, but all are things I want to remember.

The icon is actually pretty great. It pops more than any other icon on my home screen — and there are a lot of great icons on my home screen. The design of Clear alone is worth the download — I suspect Clear just started a new trend in iPhone app design.

Ultimately, for me, Clear has earned a seat on my home screen. I love the no interface-interface. I love how clever and fast it is. I just have to remember to not think of Clear as a task manager — instead looking at Clear as a list making app.

And it’s fantastic at making lists.

Here’s the App Store link: Clear

Originally posted for members on: February 14, 2012
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