About two months ago, I contacted Steve Albright – the developer behind the task switcher Clutch. I just wanted to thank him for what I personally thought was a fine app that I had used since it first was released. I also suggested some visual improvements such as additional padding between the app icons, and that the box ought to be centered on the screen like Android’s native task switcher.
Within 24 hours, Mr. Albright had emailed me a beta of Clutch with these changes incorporated. In other words, Steve is one of those Android developers that listens to his users. This was the second time a coder for Google’s OS had sent me an updated version of his app with new features, merely hours after I had suggested them. The first occasion was when Greg at Kounch sent me an .apk of the image viewer JustPictures! when I wanted an option that would make the app take me directly to my local pictures. You got to love that kind of service and dedication.
Two days after my initial email to Steve, I suggested another feature:
On a side note, I’ve wanted an app that simply shows a transparent back arrow on the screen that will simulate a press on the Back button. I might be the only one, but whenever I have to reach down for a hardware button, I think it disrupts the flow a little bit, and that’s why I like Clutch so much. I enjoy controlling my touchscreen device with the touchscreen as much as possible.
I love apps with clever UIs that don’t even require me to hit the Back key. In fact, I’ve wanted a way to replace the hardware Back button so much that I even considered writing such an app myself. My idea for this utility was to show a transparent button on the screen at all times, and when tapping the button, it would perform the exact same action as if I had pressed the hardware Back key. In late 2010, however, an app with a similar concept appeared: Button Savior. It involves an extra tap, though, but now, thanks to Clutch v1.5, I can finally wave goodbye to my Android’s Back button (almost).
Because Steve Albright has incorporated root level features in Clutch, such as the simulation of a press on the Back button. By merely swiping up, down, left or right on Clutch’s transparent action button, you can let it mimic nearly all the hardware keys on your phone: Back, Search, Menu, Volume Up/Down as well as the Camera button (if available).
Instead of reaching down for the Back button when I want to return to the previous screen, I just swipe right. Rather than pressing the Menu key, I swipe left, and instead of bothering with the Home button, I just swipe up. Pretty convenient, even though performing these swipes can be somewhat difficult at times. Of course, you need root access on your Android for this kind of functionality. If this sounds like your cup of tea as well, head to the Market and grab Clutch Pad v1.5 for $1.99. Here’s my full review of ClutchPad at Androinica if you want to learn more about it.