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There's been a quiet trend among user interface augmentations as of late: the swipe-out app and menu bar. SwipePad is probably the progenitor (and still my go-to app), and we've featured a handful of interesting alternatives, but Edge: Quick Actions deserves special attention. This little app has managed to outdo Google itself by making the Recents function (the right-most button on the default navigation configuration) obsolete.

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How so? Instead of tapping a button and then tapping the app you want to switch to, Edge embeds the last five open apps into a quick-firing mini-launcher that comes across the screen as a ribbon. Swipe in from the left and release when your thumb is over the relevant app - that's it. This is pretty much exactly what SwipePad and many others do, but the short list is dynamically filled with your recently-used apps. It's just like the Recents menu, only quicker (especially if you're using a device that hides the Recents function behind the home button a la Samsung). True, Edge is limited to the last five apps, but if you find yourself constantly switching between them, you can't get any faster.

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Edge includes a few advanced actions as well: by default the lower ribbon embeds a home button, some basic music playback buttons, and a quick link to a full app tray, while the upper bar has toggles for data, WiFi, Bluetooth, and audio. The free app is pretty limited when it comes to adjustments, only allowing the user to change the height and width of the quick-launch area. A reasonable $2 pro upgrade lets you add more toggles and buttons, including a flashlight and some root-exclusive options that can completely replace the navigation bar. The Pro version also displays up to ten recent apps and allows Edge to be launched from the right side. Themers will be happy to know that it also has some basic adjustments for color and transparency.

Edge: Quick Action is still a little rough around the edges, and more options in the free version would be nice, but it's definitely worth a look if you need a super-fast way to access recent apps and a few settings. If you need something a little more robust, check out Sidebar Plus.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • CaptainNipples

    Sure can't wait until every rom out there kangs this idea as well rather than coming up with something original that doesn't needlessly bloat SystemUI.apk when alternative apps already exist.

    • someguy

      that's kinda a crappy attitude considering ROM developers work for free for our benefit and nobody is forcing you to flash said ROMs

    • angel_spain

      Yeah, like if this wasn't inspired by AOKP ribbon feature. I think you understand nothing about android and what it represents.

      • Alberto

        Not everybody want to root their devices to flash a custom rom

        • Vardan Nazaretyan

          That doesn't mean that someone can b!tch about how custom ROMs copy from third party apps, when they don't.

      • Jake

        I think you understand nothing of SystemUI bloat in comparison to an application which adds nothing to said bloat and is thus less taxing on the system. He has a point there.

    • PhoenixPath

      The number of AOSP ROMs with "vanilla-only" features is staggering.

      Find one.

      Use it.

      Quit yer b*tchin'.

  • jibust

    What clock widget is that, if I may ask?

    • http://www.vinsonimages.com yamaha83

      looks like beautiful widgets.

      • Richard Borkovec

        It's definitely Beautiful Widgets. I have that one on my phone :)

    • Ekhem

      Also try Chronus recently ripped from CM and made available to everyone down to 4.1 ;)

      • jibust

        Actually have it installed already. Thanks

  • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

    I tried the slide-out-from-the-side apps but didn't like any of them. I don't know, I feel annoyed by having something there all the time. What if I mindlessly interact with apps the same way and the thing comes up in front of it and.. I don't know, it's just that I have to keep it in mind that it's there, it's just not for me.

    • RitishOemraw

      Same reason why I don't like these kind of apps, though I could use a quicker appswitcher, so might give it a shot.......maybe.....sometime.....eventually?

  • evertjr

    I use a case and this is not practical, multitasking button is better and faster

  • Trent Russell

    Not practical. I have several apps that require i grab from the edge for navigation.

    • Ryan O’Neill

      Any app with the slide-out hamburger menu. Play Music, Gmail, Drive, Google+, Maps, Youtube, etc....

      Sometimes 3rd-party navigation mods are cool, but I'll stick with the way Google designed it

      • Imparus

        Really stupid they didn't put left side as the default >.>

  • Alan Shearer

    Excellent idea and execution. Useless with pie controls since that is a swipe as well, but still great for many useres/phones!!

  • jastonas

    It would be cool if this had a shortcut thus replacing the recents button in ROMS that support customisable NavBar.

  • Ezzy

    PreHome still seems to be the king of the Task Switcher hill. This one seems quite responsive, but lacks the ease of use for people (such as me) who have dozens of active and inactive apps in their task switchers that we go back and forth on. PreHome allows for ~30 apps to be displayed as active and "recent".

    • Imparus

      If you are all the way up at switching between 30 apps, you aren't really in need of a "recent app", since there simply aren't enough ram for that, and you can't be using 30apps active at a time :S

      PreHome isn't a task switcher it is an Appdrawer, and quite an ugly one too, it is quite different from Edge.

      Edge has a good concept, but it is really bug, and the setting is implemented in quite a weird way (why have save with check box?), it is quite often killed in the background so it doesn't work, and why would the default be the left side, when all apps use that for the app drawer? This pretty much make the free alternative useless, and it is simply to buggy, and missing tablet support to be worth buying at the moment. (stuff like the flashlight doesn't work on my GN :S )

      • Ezzy

        Do you have any idea how many apps go into 2Gigs of RAM? The problem isn't the RAM per se, but the lack of proper coding from devs that like to just kill off the app from RAM instead of letting it do its thing or saving the state of the app and restoring it properly.
        My app drawer is around 150 apps on both my devices, so 20+ actives can be pretty normal for me (90% of the time they're not games). At some point they'll die off, but on most apps it doesn't really matter though.
        Just for reference, right now I have 15 active apps and memory usage is at 900 megs (and that 15 doesn't include system apps and background processes like Lux, Jawbone UP, Lookout, Notification toggle, Gsam battery monitor etc.)
        In conclusion, I'd rather have my apps functional than pretty.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    The thing I don't like about apps like this is that you have to keep your finger on the screen. That's not always something I want to do, especially when using my tablet. I'm all for innovation, and I don't begrudge anyone who likes this kind of thing. I just don't.

  • DarkLordZim

    I still really like Swapps! on my Nexus7(2012) i've tried a lot of others, i like sidebar plus but its a resource hog.

    • David Spivey

      Try Appsi. It seems to be less of a hog. If you completely disable the apps bar (using only the home bar), it uses even less resources. Whereas Sidebar Plus was constanly dying from lack of memory, Appsi doesn't, at least not the way I have it set up. I use widgets for everything. I use a folder organizer folder widget for apps on the bar. I also have UCCW widgets, tasks and unified remote.

      • Bloodflame87

        I have absolutely no issues with Sidebar+ on my Nexus 4. I never even really noticed any major hit on resources, nor has it ever killed itself. I'm sure the 2GB of RAM is helping in my case, so others with high-end devices shouldn't have much of an issue. Just throwing in my 2 cents.

        FWIW, I like Appsi too - probably my second choice in the quick-swipe-launch genre, for lack of a better title.

  • Steve Freeman

    Does this also let you "kill" apps? If not, it doesn't really make Recents obsolete. I use Recents for that more often than actually switching apps.

  • didibus

    Such simple things could be changed to the default Android nav menus to greatly improve it, I wish someone made an app for that or that google changed them. Here are examples:

    - The last used app should be at the bottom of the recents list, and the current app at the top.
    - The recents list should work like swipe pad. That is, press and drag up to have it show, and simply let go your finger under the app to switch to.
    - A tap on the recents button should perform an Alt+Tab like command. That is, it should instantly switch to the previous app.

    These three are absolute must. Many more ideas come to my mind, but they are not absolute undeniable better ways of doing things, like those 3 above. I list:

    - Quick Settings on phone should work similar to Tablets. drag from the right, to go to quick settings. Drag from the left to go to notifications. Current way is to hard for one hand use.
    - Drag up from home button should be used for more than just a shortcut to google now. either let me customize more shortcut, or make it something way more useful in general.
    - Press and Hold on the home button should let me peek into the main page of my home screen, when I release it, it should bring me back to where I was. Even better, have a peek home page where you can set widgets and shortcuts that you'd like to appear on a peek (press and hold). Shortcuts could be used by simply dragging up on them while in peek mode and releasing.
    - Drag up on Back button should display a list of screens you can go back to, like right clicking on back button in a browser. Simply drag over to where you want to go back and release to go back to it.

  • Freak4Dell

    I guess this is nice if you switch between more than 2 apps, but the fastest way to switch between 2 apps is the last app button that AOKP has. It's too bad there isn't an easy way to do that on stock ROMs.

    • Claire Rich

      It depends. I use SHIFTap Launcher on the stock ROM and I define a swipe gesture to go to the previous task. I don't think it's slower than AOKP's last app button.

    • alexcue

      I use GMD Gesture Control and have a 4-finger double tap set up to alt-tab to your last app. Also set up a 4-finger swipe left/right, like an iPad, to swipe through your open apps. It's one of my essential apps! (Requires root)

  • Zcorn

    The remake of wave launcher......

  • Aniket Patni

    Looks really good. Only problem for me is that today, with nearly all Google apps, and most of Android apps coming with Hamburger menus, and swipe from right/left accordion menus, this would really come in the way.
    If only there was a way you could remap the recents buttons to open this up. Maybe via root. I know it would kill the swipe functionality, but at least it wouldn't come in the way of normal app usage.

    • Phat7

      Set up one third of the screen to activate this and the rest will be for apps' navigation drawers.