London-based RealMac software is on a tear right now.The software company is less than 24 hours into its latest release, Clear, the gorgeous to-do list app for Mac, and things couldn’t be going any smoother.
Clear for Mac skyrocketed to the top of Apple’s Mac App store. It’s currently at the number two spot, behind Apple’s latest operating system Mountain Lion. And while this is an impressive achievement, it doesn’t come without hard work.
Clear’s goal is to make your life easier without adding clutter, and to that the app certainly beats expectations. Clear for iPhone has been around since January, and the app has racked up 600,000 paid downloads. One of the reasons Clear for iPhone was so well received is because of its impressive design.
The iPhone app has been updated, along with the release of the Mac app to fix small flaws and add iCloud support that lets you sync tasks between all your Apple devices.
Dan Counsell, the founder and director of RealMac software, wants Clear to become part of pop culture and with the app’s distinctive look and feel, Counsell thinks the company is well on its way to achieving that.
The following is a lightly edited conversation we had with Counsell.
Business Insider: What is Clear’s goal? What is the vision for the app?
Dan Counsell: We want to keep Clear simple, uncluttered and focused. We want it to become so ubiquitous that when people get a new device it’s one of the first apps they download, just like Twitter or Instagram. We want it to become part of pop culture, and with Clear’s distinctive look and feel we think we’re well on our way to achieving that.
BI: Where do you see Clear in a year?
DC: I can tell you that the future of Clear is already meticulously mapped out and we have some truly amazing things planned for the next 12 months.
BI: Can you say how many people have downloaded the app? How many active users does Clear have?
DC: We’ve currently sold over 600,000 copies of Clear, and we’re hoping with the launch of the updated iPhone version and Mac App we’ll be well on our way to selling 1 million copies, which is no small feat for an independent software house. We don’t actively track users so we’re unsure of the exact number, but we think the retention rate is pretty good, mainly due to the high number of users that keep Clear up to date on their iPhones.
BI: What are your favourite things about the app (both iPhone and Mac)?
DC: The main attraction for me has to be the simplicity. I just love the fact I don’t have to spend time setting up projects, due dates, and tagging tasks. I also think the directness of the user interface coupled with the audio cues just make it a joy to use.
BI: We love the design of the iPhone app, how did you all come up with such a beautiful but also functional interface? Was it a long process?
DC: The app started out as a side project. We knew we wanted to do something fun, but different on iOS as previously we’d only ever built Mac Apps. When myself and Milen Dzhumerov (Lead Engineer on Clear) started the project, it was actually called “Goals” and it wasn’t strictly a to-do app. But over time it quickly evolved. We stripped out all the extraneous features and iterated on the design continuously, and over the course of three long months it eventually became Clear.
BI: How many people work directly on Clear?
DC: Generally on a day-to-day basis it’s around 3 people, in the run-up to launching Clear for Mac and the updated iPhone App the headcount pretty much doubled.
BI: Why did you all feel that a Mac based app was more important than developing an official Android app?
DC: At this point in time we’re focusing on the Apple platform as that’s where our passion lies. Interestingly, we’re a private company so are not driven by what investors want or think we should do. We just focus on building great products we ourselves want to use, so in that regard the Mac was an obvious choice for us.
BI: Inside the app when you have an empty list a quote comes up related to task management, I saw one from Michael Jordan, John F. Kennedy, and Walt Disney to name a few. Who’s idea was this? Where do the quotes come from?
DC: We started by building up a list of people we admire, we then did some research on each of them and picked out any quotes that seemed to fit the vibe of Clear. Since then, we’ve been adding to the library of quotes with every new release.
In fact the quotes have been so popular that we’ve actually built a dedicated site for them (http://clearquot.es/) and added a way for people to share them on Twitter and Facebook from within Clear.
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