Android

Switchr: Android task switching made easy

Jack Wallen introduces you to a new way to open apps from your Android app history that not only makes sense, but it also makes your device far more efficient.

Switchr

Every once in a while, you come across an Android app that makes you wonder why that particular feature, service, or behavior isn't included in the default build of the platform. One such app is Switchr, which allows you to re-open running apps from an elegant dock. You no longer have to go through the app history and then select the app you want to run. Instead, just swipe from the left and tap the app you want to open. It's that simple and incredibly handy.

There are two versions of Switchr — Free and Pro ($1.99). The Free version offers features like:

  • Start on boot
  • Setup edge triggers
  • Configure Switchr style (Flow, Slide, Arc)
  • Haptic feedback
  • Hardware acceleration
  • High-rez icons
  • Pin apps to Switchr

The Pro version offers all of the features of the Free version, plus a few more:

  • Visual indicator
  • Blacklist/whitelist apps
  • Fade animation
  • Use default system animations Running indicators
  • Resume running apps
  • Effects customizations
  • Pin running apps to Switchr

Let's install and use this app so that your Android experience will be even more efficient.

Installation

Installing Switchr is quite simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for Switchr
  3. Locate and tap the entry for Switchr by Mohammad Adib
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read through the permissions listing
  6. If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
  7. Allow the installation to complete

Once it's installed, you'll immediately be greeted with a welcome wizard. It will show you how easy it is to use Switchr and, in the end, you'll be able to select the type of switcher you want to use. I highly recommend selecting either the Flow or the Arc, because the Slide type (based on Windows 8) is a bit cumbersome to use.

Once you've walked through the wizard, Switchr is ready to use.

Usage

To use Switchr, swipe in from the upper left corner of your device. You should then see the Switchr dock appear (see the vide below).

Keep your finger on the screen and either move it to the right or left (if using the Flow style) or around the arc (if using the Arc style). When the app you want to open is highlighted, remove your finger, and the app will open.

Switchr will always be there, ready to open up the apps from your app history with ease.

Configuring the app

If you decide to change types of Switchrs, or you need to configure another option, locate and then tap the Switchr launcher in the app drawer. This will open the Switchr configuration window (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Switchr running on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.

You'll find the following tabs in the configuration window:

  • General (select the style of Switchr, set up edge triggers, etc)
  • Content (pin apps to Switchr)
  • Switchr (options for the three types of Switchrs)

Go to the General tab, and tap Setup edge triggers. Here you can customize the edges used to launch Switchr. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Switchr launcher
  2. Swipe to the General tab
  3. Tap Setup edge triggers
  4. Drag your finger up or down the left edge to lengthen or shorten the Switchr edge (Figure B)
  5. When complete, tap the screen

Figure B

Figure B

Changing the edge trigger for Switchr.

You want to make sure the edge trigger doesn't interfere with any other docks or actions that are triggered by swiping from the edge of the screen.

Another useful configuration is the ability to pin an app to Switchr. This means that the app will always be found in Switchr, whether it's in your current app history or not. Here's how to pin an app:

  1. Tap the Switchr launcher
  2. Swipe to the Content tab
  3. Tap the plus sign [+]
  4. Scroll through the list (Figure C) and select all the apps that you want to pin
  5. Tap the device back button to exit

Figure C

Figure C

Pinning apps to Switchr.

Once you start using Switchr, you'll never go back. It's that helpful. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if an app like Switchr becomes a built-in part of a future release of Android.

What do you think? Should Switchr become integrated into the core of Android? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox