This is how Android SHOULD work. Is there a way to do this?
July 18, 2014 2:48 PM   Subscribe

After much experimentation, I’ve finally realized how I want the Android home screens to work: Like this (simple 30-sec video clip). Essentially, I want it to work like making a Mac OS X app full-screen and assigning it to a work space.

I want to swipe sideways and arrive at an app -- email, lets say -- that I have permanently “assigned” to that “space.” From my Mac desktop, for example, I do a four-finger swipe left, and I’m in Word; a four-finger swipe right, and I’m in Safari.

Some apps, like Gmail, have widgets that one could put on an Android home screen and expand to cover most of that screen. But these widgets never have the full functionality of the regular app.

Anticipating an objection: Yes, some apps use side-swipes to perform in-app actions, like archiving an email in Gmail. But that is easily addressed: Just require a two-finger swipe, or a swipe coming in all the way from the edge, to change “spaces”.

So the question is, with all the infinite launchers and things out there, is there one that will do this? I am currently using Nova Launcher, on a Galaxy S4 running KitKat.

SECRET BONUS QUESTION: You can connect the gmail app to multiple accounts, so I have one for work and one for home. But it would be even better if I could have TWO gmail apps, and connect one account to each. Is this possible? If it is, and could be combined with the above, then from my home screen I could two-finger swipe left for my work email, and two-finger swipe again for my personal email!
posted by Alaska Jack to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Best answer: Android apps don't run inside the launcher, the launcher is just another app that gets switched to when you hit the home button. It is possible to create an app that overlays the current screen and with some trickery you could do something that sort-of emulates the switching behaviour, but I think the overlays can only capture touch events and not swipes. The OS would still be in control of the app lifecycle, so there wouldn't be smooth switching. It would still be like you started the app from the launcher or long-pressed home and switched back to it from the task manager. Anything more would have to be done at a deeper level than is possible with a non-rooted phone.

Regarding running two copies of GMail, Android doesn't allow installing two copies of the same app.
posted by indyz at 3:16 PM on July 18, 2014

Best answer: For your secret bonus question: I don't think there is a way to have multiple gmail apps. If you always go to the inboxes of your email accounts, you can setup links directly to those inboxes, so you don't have to switch user/folder every time. I don't know if that goes with your workflow though.
posted by ethidda at 3:44 PM on July 18, 2014

Best answer: For the first part of your question, many android launchers allow you to launch apps with gestures. I know mine (Lightning Launcher) does. I have Chrome assigned to a two finger swipe from the top. It only works from the home screen though.
posted by irisclara at 5:35 PM on July 18, 2014

Best answer: As others have mentioned, launchers just don't have that much control over the OS to make it do what you want. If you have a Galaxy S4, you can long-press the home button to bring up a list of running apps though. Doesn't help you achieve the spatial layout you're hoping for but it does at least give you a quick way to switch between or close apps.
posted by Aleyn at 6:20 PM on July 18, 2014

Best answer: This wouldn't be possible for a launcher right now; it's just another app really. Full screen apps have touch control handed to them by the OS. System level is still tracking touch and swipe events, but the only two it currently uses are the swipe from top/bottom edge to bring out the hidden OS-level buttons and bar when in immersive mode. So it would have to be a completely custom ROM to do that.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:47 AM on July 19, 2014

Best answer: Some custom Android ROMS started doing a thing called PIE controls, where there's a "hot spot" on the screen you can swipe in (even while within other apps) to bring in a customizable menu. It's not quite what you're asking for but it might work for you.

A link for non-root users

Or if you have root, this might be easier
posted by Wulfhere at 4:32 AM on July 19, 2014

Response by poster: Rats. OK, thanks everyone. Unless any of you work for Google; in which case, stop reading AskMe this moment and get to work on this. ;^)
posted by Alaska Jack at 10:43 AM on July 19, 2014

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