Clear for Mac had a unique challenge in making its way from the iPhone to the desktop, since Clear was obviously built with iOS in mind. In fact, its primary appeal was the fact that it largely did away with control elements inherited from the desktop, dropping buttons in favor of gestures made commonplace thanks to the success of iOS. So bringing it to OS X, and keeping Clear recognizable while addressing the needs of mouse and keyboard users, presented quite a challenge.
Phill Ryu, CEO and co-founder at Impending, which created Clear in conjunction with Realmac Software and Helftone, told me that figuring out how to make a product that works as smoothly on the desktop as it’s designed to on mobile was the big challenge with bringing Clear to OS X.
“iPhone is a very, very elegant platform,” he said. “You do almost everything with it just by touching things. So Clear iPhone really worked that angle while keeping things extremely simple, and that’s how mobile apps should be. The Mac platform is if anything defined more by the myriad of ways people use their Macs. It’s almost 30 years old, there is a lot of stuff built up, and it is by nature less elegant, more complex, more feature-filled.”
That meant that Ryu and his team had to tackle Clear’s OS X design in a way that stays true to Clear’s simplicity while dealing with more variety in user input preferences. “In a way with Clear Mac it felt more like trying to tailor a glove to fit tightly on a variety of hands and shapes – mouse lovers, gesture addicts, keyboard only users, and I think we found a way to do it,” he said. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”
I’ve been using Clear for Mac for a little while now ahead of its release, and I think Ryu and his team have indeed nailed it. Whether you’re generally glued to your MacBook’s trackpad, or operating with keyboard shortcuts and a mouse (I do both, depending on whether I’m working from home or the road), Clear’s user experience shines. It also retains its good looks and impressive audio effects, and all of its personality.
Clear for Mac provides iCloud syncing of tasks between itself and a user’s iPhone client, but there’s another app that does that, and it now ships with OS X and iOS: Reminders. I asked whether Ryu felt Clear would hurt by facing GTD competition pre-installed on Apple’s devices. He admitted that Clear has a higher hill to climb in terms of attracting user attention, but overall felt the competition would be beneficial.
“We clearly have a very different point of view on how this kind of app should be designed and used, and I think that raises eyebrows and gets some attention,” he said. “Reminders might just introduce a lot of people to the idea of using a specific app to manage their lives and things to do. Then we can introduce them to something a lot nicer.”
Clear for Mac is available now on the App Store, with limited time pricing of $6.99 for the first 24 hours. It’ll be up to $9.99 beginning Friday for a brief period, and will eventually go back to its full price of $14.99 after that. If you want a task manager that feels refreshing in a world of relatively similar, staid options, this is definitely among the best options out there.