To-do list app Clear sneaks in secret features in update

Apr 23, 2012
Tech

Back when to-do list app Clear was released, it was praised for its simple and elegant design and received a fair amount of positive attention. But it was soon after that users started to discover the hidden secrets in the app that have made it one of the more compelling productivity offerings available. Clear’s developers, […]

Back when to-do list app Clear was released, it was praised for its simple and elegant design and received a fair amount of positive attention. But it was soon after that users started to discover the hidden secrets in the app that have made it one of the more compelling productivity offerings available.

Clear’s developers, Realmac Studios, leveraged “gamification” in an intelligent way in their app to make it more than just a list of tasks to be checked-off, as Touch Arcade reports. Plenty of apps exist to give users to-do lists – Apple even created one of its own that’s a native part of iOS since the update to iOS 5 – but Clear includes secret features that can be unlocked under certain circumstances. Those secrets garnered some attention for the app when it launched, and it’s first big update also includes new Easter eggs to be found.

“Gamification,” for those not up on their marketing buzzwords, refers to adding game elements to various other forms of entertainment or marketing that otherwise wouldn’t include them. A good example that most iOS users are probably familiar with is foursquare, which encourages users to check-in to different locations by dishing out rewards such as badges and titles. Those game elements help to engage users in foursquare, which benefits by creating partnerships with businesses to draw more users to their locations.

Version 1.1 of Clear is being referred to as the “secret” update, and it adds even more hidden elements to the to-do list app for users to find. These exist as hidden themes for customizing the look of the app. Clear ships with several themes that users can choose from, but completing certain actions unlocks more such themes , so stop reading now if you want them to go unspoiled.

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In true gamification fashion, one of the newly hidden themes in Clear’s update involves using partner apps. When the app originally shipped, one theme was unlocked for having Tweetbot, the Twitter client app, installed on your device; in the update, having social networking app Path installed unlocks a new theme. A second theme appears in the update if you promote Clear itself by gifting the $0.99 app to another user through iTunes; the third hidden theme comes if you use the app for seven days in a row.

Three other themes will eventually be available, it seems, according to Touch Arcade, and each is tied to a game: Bumpy Road, The Heist and Temple Run. Those three games need to be updated before the themes in Clear can be unlocked, but it seems that if you play those titles, you’re entitled to new stuff in your to-do list app.

There are other themes that can be unlocked within Clear for using it under the right circumstances, but we’ll try not to spoil them all. If they get iOS owners to use the app and attempt to collect all the themes – potentially making their lives easier in the process by becoming more organized – then gamification is doing the exact job for which it is intended. That might not be effective motivation for every single user, but it does seem to work with quite a few people.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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