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Is there such a thing as being too organized? A new to-do app called Clear aims to cut down on the amount of time you spend managing to-do lists so that you can actually, well, do things. The app is being demoed for the first time Thursday at the Macworld/iWorld expo in San Francisco.
There is no shortage of feature-filled to-do apps in the App Store. Apple even launched its own in October called Reminders, which lets you add location-based alerts to items. Many of the current apps are based on or inspired by Getting Things Done (GTD), a 10-year-old organizational book-turned-movement that lays-out a specific way of tracking and managing tasks.
“It has become the Bible for productivity nerds, and the dominant religion in the world of to-do apps,” Clear-creator Phill Ryu said of GTD. “We just think it’s all bullshit. The system is so elaborate and feature-filled that it demands you start investing a lot of work just to make sense of it all.
“GTD has turned into some perverse form of procrastination.”
Ryu’s solution is a back-to-basics graphic and fun (yep, fun) to-do list app. Clear is a color-coded list inspired by that old standby, paper and pencil. Items are organized by urgency for a look reminiscent of the Department of Homeland Security’s old threat level advisory system. Pinch and expand to add a new task, pinch in to bounce back to the master list of lists. Swipe right to mark something as done. Swipe left to delete. That’s it in a nutshell. Make a list and move on.
The app is the first project from Impending, a new design studio started by veteran app developers Ryu and David Lanham. Ryu and Lanham first met online Ryu was 16 and Lanham worked at Iconfactory. Most recently, they worked together at another app studio, Tap Tap Tap, which is responsible for big hits such as Camera+ and The Heist for iPhone, and has sold more than 10 million apps.
But Ryu and Lanham wanted to start their own shop where they could pursue their unique design philosophy.
“I think the important thing is to never take anything for granted and question everything — all the known interface design conventions, the clichés and rules of the genre.” said Ryu. “These are formulas, and to us formulas are just a fancy way of describing the rut you’re stuck in.”
The product of this approach is Clear, a collaboration with Realmac Software and Milen Dzhumerov, but other “top secret” projects are already in the pipeline. The Clear app won’t be available in the App Store until mid-February, but the duo has a video of the app in action (watch it below). Impending plans to make Clear free to download and try, but you can pay to add pro features.