Developing Perspective

#34: Clear


00:00:00   Hello, and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:06   news of note in iOS, Apple, and the like. I'm your host, David Smith. I'm an independent

00:00:10   iOS developer based in Washington, DC. Today is February 15th. It's Wednesday, and this

00:00:17   is show number 34.

00:00:19   All right. Today, I'm going to be discussing Clear, which is a new app that just launched

00:00:26   this morning in the App Store and talking through really the two big implications that

00:00:30   I see of this app and kind of what they mean for independent developers in the App Store

00:00:36   at large.

00:00:37   And I think there is something to learn sort of for all of us in this, so it's kind of

00:00:39   cool.

00:00:41   So first off, I'm going to talk a little bit about what Clear is and how it does some things

00:00:46   and how it may change kind of how people think about apps.

00:00:49   And then also just talk a little bit about what its success means for other developers.

00:00:54   So at its core, Clear is a very simple application.

00:00:58   It is a to-do list manager.

00:01:00   There are probably thousands of those in the App Store, wouldn't surprise me.

00:01:06   And that's basically all it does.

00:01:08   It lets you have a collection of lists, those lists, you can add items to the list, you

00:01:14   can cross items off the list, you know, that's really all it is.

00:01:18   It's a very traditional classic to-do list manager.

00:01:23   But it does its user interaction in a very kind of novel way.

00:01:28   It is entirely gesture-based.

00:01:29   Really, the only thing that isn't a gesture, that isn't a gesture in the broad sense, is

00:01:37   that you can tap on a certain number of items to go into things, you know, so those act

00:01:41   like buttons.

00:01:42   But all the rest of your operations are gesture-oriented.

00:01:45   To cross something off, you slide it to the left.

00:01:47   If you want to delete something, you slide it to the right.

00:01:50   If you want to add an item in the bottom, you sort of pinch.

00:01:52   If you want to add something to the top, you slide down.

00:01:55   If you want to flip lists, if you want to clear it, you slide up.

00:01:58   There's all kinds of these cool things.

00:02:00   I'll have a link to the website for it in the show notes for you to look through.

00:02:04   But it's a pretty clever, interesting thing.

00:02:07   For me, what I really like about this application is that it's very clean, it's very simple.

00:02:12   You can tell it was designed thoughtfully and meaningfully, but it isn't doing some

00:02:19   crazy overly skeuomorphic design pattern where it's like "oh this should look like an actual

00:02:26   piece of note paper with a pen that you're writing across it in" and it's entirely...

00:02:32   it reminds me actually a lot of the Metro UI which is what's in Windows Phone 7 in the

00:02:38   sense that it's a very simple, clean, stark, maybe isn't a better word for it, where you

00:02:43   You have just big, large blocks of light colors with a few little garnishes, I guess you could

00:02:51   say, between items and little icons here and there.

00:02:54   But overall, it's very simple.

00:02:58   I think that's good.

00:02:59   I think it's a good response to the overly skeuomorphic view that a lot of people have

00:03:03   had, especially following Apple's lead.

00:03:07   And I think it shows that you don't need to have that kind of a look and feel for an app

00:03:13   to look good and feel good.

00:03:15   Now, I'm not saying it's easy for what they did.

00:03:18   I imagine it took some very talented people a lot of time to make it look like that.

00:03:24   But it's nice to see what you can do with less rather than with more.

00:03:32   So those are the two things that I think are helpful in terms of thinking how that would

00:03:37   may change how you think of applications that you can look at and say, you know,

00:03:40   it's a reminders app, it's a to-do list manager, but they made it really simple-looking,

00:03:47   and that actually worked really well. Okay, and then so the second thing I wanted to talk about,

00:03:53   and this is probably what I'll talk about a little bit longer on today's show, but it'll

00:03:56   probably be a pretty short show, is that it was very encouraging to me this morning that right

00:04:03   now, as of about 9 a.m., clear as the number one app in the App Store.

00:04:07   But that means it's the top paid, you know, it's the number one top paid app.

00:04:13   It is not, let's see, and it comes out in terms of grossing at number nine, as of right

00:04:18   now.

00:04:19   So that's nine hours after it launched, basically, because I think it launched about midnight

00:04:24   in the United States.

00:04:26   And so basically what that means, what that says to me though is, this is an application

00:04:31   that's not one of these, you know, it's not doing anything scammy. It's not using in-app

00:04:38   purchase. It's not freemium and then trying to extract money out of people. It's not built

00:04:45   by some big development house, or it's not EA or someone like that doing something. It's

00:04:54   sort of a big development house, and the guys behind it are pretty well known. But it's

00:04:59   It is a simple app, precisely executed, and therefore, and it has thus far been able to

00:05:06   succeed. And that's incredibly encouraging to me as an independent developer. Every now

00:05:12   and then, I've been kind of recently like, "Oh, man. Is the market, is the app store

00:05:19   kind of going downhill?" There's all these, there's the scam and sort of copycat apps

00:05:29   that have been making the rounds, you know, round and round. There's a couple of sort

00:05:34   of bad stories going around of, you know, user experiences and things of, you know,

00:05:39   the store being overrun, discoverability problems, all these kinds of things. And it's very

00:05:44   encouraging to see, you know, it's a simple app. It does one thing well, and they're doing

00:05:49   very well. You know, they're being number eight and grossing in the store is incredibly,

00:05:53   I don't know exactly how much money that is, but I imagine it is probably more than I make

00:05:58   in a week. So they're doing really well. And that's encouraging to me to think, like, maybe

00:06:04   I could write an app like that, something simple, something impressive, and pay attention

00:06:09   to the details and be rewarded for that. And more power to them. Phil, who's the head of

00:06:16   marketing, I guess, for it, has done a tremendous job on the marketing side of things. It is

00:06:22   It is amazing to see what he did and how he executed that in terms of building up the

00:06:29   hype, building up the anticipation.

00:06:31   You know you're doing it well when I think last week there was a copycat app that was

00:06:34   approved in the store, which is pretty wild.

00:06:38   To think that from when it was preannounced to when it was actually launched, someone

00:06:42   had created a copy of it and put it in the store.

00:06:44   It was ultimately pulled, thankfully, but that's kind of remarkable.

00:06:48   You know you're doing something well with your hype and press machine when a developer

00:06:54   has already ripped you off before you even launched.

00:06:57   So that was pretty interesting.

00:07:00   So that's kind of, I think, sort of my thoughts for this morning.

00:07:03   And just kind of go from there.

00:07:05   I mean, I think it makes me think a little bit about these sort of, I was thinking about

00:07:10   the successes that the TapTapTap guys have.

00:07:13   This isn't a TapTapTap app.

00:07:14   It's this new thing called impending, I think, which is a combination of a couple of other

00:07:19   real Mac software.

00:07:20   I guess some of the guys from tap tap tap, I think there's some guys in the icon factory

00:07:25   kind of working together on it.

00:07:26   But I think what is interesting is it.

00:07:31   So many of their apps that have been very successful are very simple in what they do.

00:07:36   And they're sort of recreating built in functionality on the phone.

00:07:40   So things that come to mind is obviously so clear as a to do list, which is currently

00:07:44   available as reminders. And then there's things like CameraPlus, which is just a camera app.

00:07:49   I say just a camera app, not to be dismissive, but that's what it does. I think of something

00:07:55   like, I mean, Tweetbot is a small application that replaces essentially a native application,

00:08:02   the Twitter client. And they have a calculator that did very well and things like that. There's

00:08:09   There's a lot of opportunity, I think, for re-implementing main things, basic apps, you

00:08:14   know, in novel, clean, impressive ways.

00:08:18   And so I think that's encouraging.

00:08:19   So I guess on that sort of encouraging note, I'll wrap this show up.

00:08:23   Like I said, I'm going to have a lot more time to be able to focus on doing podcasts,

00:08:28   so if you have any thoughts, things you want me to elaborate on, to think about, talk about,

00:08:31   I'd love to do that.

00:08:32   Just hit me up on Twitter.

00:08:34   I'm @_davidsmith.

00:08:35   And otherwise, I hope you have a good day.

00:08:37   Happy coding, and I'll talk to you later.