Clear Revamps Swiping To-Do List App with Added In-App Incentives: A Trailblazing App Store Pioneer Strikes Again

Clear offers a specific vision for how to-do lists should work and, as an indie app, it doesn’t have to deliver increasing returns on investment or answer to investors. “It feels a little punk compared with the average app on the App Store,” notes Ryu about Clear’s lack of subscriptions. But for most of that time, the app was just being updated on TestFlight, not on the public App Store. The original team had kind of “burned out” on Clear, Ryu explains, after being overloaded with projects like porting Clear to Mac or adding iCloud Sync. You can also drag and drop items between lists, swipe to schedule reminders, screenshot to share lists, and swipe to archive lists.

From the minds behind Impending, the developers of hit mobile game Heads Up!, comes the next generation of productivity apps – Clear 2. A complete rebuild from the ground up, Clear 2 holds true to its roots of intuitive gesture-based navigation while introducing a radical new way of monetization.

More than a decade ago, Clear first burst onto the scene with its simple yet innovative design. Utilizing the touch interface of smartphones, it got rid of buttons and menus and instead focused on gestures and swipes for operation. This unique approach drew much fanfare as it proved to be the first of its kind, paving the way for a new era of mobile apps.

“Clear was the first app that could ‘only happen on the phone’,” says Clear’s developer, Phill Ryu, “At the time, we asked if the world was ready for a buttonless app. Today, I think it’s safe to say that the answer is a clear ‘Yes!'”

However, despite its initial success, the state of smartphone apps today has not evolved as much as Ryu expected. In fact, he believes that they have become overly complicated and cluttered with monetization schemes.

“Today’s apps are more overstuffed and have all these desperate ways of making money,” says Ryu in an interview with TechCrunch. “It’s almost like they’re holding users hostage unless they pay for a subscription.”

But Clear remains true to its vision of simplicity and functionality. As an independent app, it doesn’t have to worry about delivering increasing returns or appeasing investors. It’s a bit of a rebel in the app world, and Ryu is proud of it.

“Clear’s lack of subscriptions makes it a bit punk compared to the average app on the App Store,” says Ryu with a laugh. “Who knew that all it takes to be punk these days is to not have subscriptions?”

Despite its age, Clear still has a dedicated following who prefer its swipeable to-do’s over more traditional to-do list apps like Apple’s Notes or Microsoft To Do. Surprisingly, Clear still boasts around 70,000 monthly active users, with 20,000 using it on a daily basis.

“Not huge,” admits Ryu, “but interestingly active for an app that has remained relatively unchanged for ten years.”

The original team behind Clear, Realmac Software and Milen Dzhumerov, sold the rights to Impending back in 2007 and have since moved on to other projects. After years of teasing a potential relaunch, Impending finally delivered with Clear 2 – a completely rebuilt version using Swift.

Unlike many other apps, Clear 2 isn’t aiming to be cutting-edge with features like AI assistants. Instead, it focuses on its core customers – iPhone users – and introduces a new way of monetization through its daily rotating shop.

The shop, taking inspiration from free-to-play games and “cozy” games like “Animal Crossing,” offers cosmetic features such as app icons, color themes, sound packs, quote packs, and fonts. These can be purchased for a flat rate of $2.99 each, replacing the previous $5 download fee for the original Clear.

“There is something genuinely good about free-to-play games,” explains Ryu, “but unfortunately, it’s been tainted by those who have taken advantage of it. We hope to bring back the positive aspects of this model with clear and transparent pricing.”

Clear 2 also introduces a slate of new gestures for tasks such as using a back button, batch drag-and-drop, scheduling reminders, and sharing lists. Users can also drag and drop items between lists and archive lists with a simple swipe.

“Maybe in the future, we’ll have some fun AI project for Clear,” Ryu muses, “but for now, we want to keep Clear as a quiet and pristine place for your thoughts. It’s almost a sacred space for us.”

Clear 2 may not be the most groundbreaking app in terms of features, but its dedication to simplicity and functionality has kept it relevant even after ten years. With Clear 2, Impending stays true to its rebellious and indie roots, delivering a unique and refreshing take on to-do list apps.

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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