February 16, 2011 | by Lars Aronsson
The past six months, we’ve seen many apps that all try to provide the best way to quickly switch between tasks. The solutions have varied: some of these task switchers are used by double pressing the Home button, and a few use longpress and sliding actions on certain parts of the screen. One of the best approaches I’ve seen is unfortunately not available in the Market, since it’s the list of recent apps in the notification bar that HTC’s latest devices feature.
A valid question is: why would you want a third-party task switcher when you can just longpress the Home button? Well, I personally want to control my touchscreen device with the touchscreen as much as possible. Whenever I have to reach down for a hardware button, it disrupts the flow of things a little, and I love apps with clever UIs that don’t even require me to hit the Back button.
It seems like Google is feeling the same way, since Honeycomb doesn’t require any hardware buttons at all and its task management is all handled via the touchscreen.
That’s why I like Clutch Pad so much. It’s very simple: the app shows a subtle little button on the screen at all times. You get to choose its icon (or remove the icon altogether), such as an arrow or a tiny Android. You can place the button wherever you want, but Clutch wasn’t that useful for me until I put it in the top center of the screen.
When you tap the icon, Clutch will bring up a list of recent tasks that works just like Android’s own task switcher. Regardless of which app you’re currently using, you can tap on Clutch to switch between applications. Clutch supports swipe actions that can be very useful, although they’re a bit difficult to control since the touch area is pretty small. The app also has plenty of customization options and bells and whistles.
Clutch may not be everyone’s cup of tea and I realize that some of you will find an app like this redundant, but still: a single tap is faster than a longpress. I recommend Clutch to anyone looking for a quick and simple way to switch between apps without using any hardware buttons, and for me personally, Clutch has become a must-have app. The task switcher can be yours for $0.99 $1.99 in the Market.