App: Clear

Tagline: an interesting UI, but missing necessary functionality

Link: Clear

My team is working on Silence, the Android app that will automatically silence or set your phone to vibrate on a schedule. Apps that mimic this behavior on iOS are essentially glorified reminder apps, as iOS does not allow apps to run in the background or run on startup. For my example app, I decided to go with Clear, a popular iOS reminders app.

When this app launched in late January, there was a large amount of hype surrounding it. Despite missing a few key parts of a to-do app, its button-free UI received a large amount of critical acclaim. I was interested in seeing what progress the app has made since it launch over a month ago. Unfortunately, there has only been one update since launch, version 1.0.1, which added a tutorial. In its time on the App Store, no new functionality has been added, and its price doubled from $0.99 to $1.99. Clear is still a largely incomplete reminders app that only serves as an interesting UI demo.

The hype surrounding this app was focused on the interface, and it was largely deserved. The app has no actual buttons, and instead relies entirely on gestures. The example to-do list that greets the user as they first boot the app is a useful hands-on tutorial. Also, the app’s sound effects enforce a fun, playful feel for the app. Problems arise with this app once a user actually integrates the app into their life. It does not work with Siri, you cannot dictate a reminder, reminders do not sync across devices, and reminders are limited to seventeen characters.

Each iPhone comes with “Reminders” and “Notes,” both of which are infinitely more useful than Clear. Still, the near-brilliance of this app’s user interface serves as an interesting tech demo, and each app creator should experience it. Just don’t plan on actually using the app for its intended purpose.

-Spencer Guy