MKB Reviews: Itching Thumb

Itching thumb, despite its awkward name, is a really intuitive task switching application for Android. With either a double tap of the home button or a long hold of the search key you can activate it and begin making your way around its refreshing new interface. This application is perfect for people who often find themselves switching between open applications often, or those who use the good old ‘hold home key’ trick but are tired of the less flashy interface. If this sounds like you, look no further; Itching thumb might be the cure for you.

User Interface

To start it off, this is not a launcher. You can still hit the home button once and return to your ADW.Launcher or LauncherPro or other launcher of choice. You can choose to double tap, however, to open Itching Thumb and switch between applications that are open on your Android device. Once opened you are greeted with a nice live thumbnail view with a tile for each of your open applications. To open an app just click it and it will be brought to the foreground for you to work in. It’s that simple.

Swiping between applications has a little bounce effect to it, which can be turned off or down in the settings. There’s also an arrow at the bottom that allows you to pin up to 8 of your favorite applications or widgets, just like you can on your regular homescreen. If you open your dialer, twitter client or news reader often you may want to pin these here for easy access from anywhere in your phone. This reminds me a bit of Quickdesk in that functionality. What separates this from Quickdesk is that you can swipe left or right to reveal a total of 3 homescreen-like spaces to place frequently accessed icons and widgets. Nifty!

Performance

Something to look at when an application is always running in the background on your phone is how it impacts performance and battery life. From my experience of about a week with the application it has had minimal impact on both. I happen to use LauncherPro Plus as my main launcher and I very rarely [maybe once a day] got reloads of the home screen with Itchy Thumb running in the background.

My battery life has been pretty good on the original Motorola Droid; I average close to 24 hours of unplugged time between charges. That surprisingly didn’t change much at all with Itchy Thumb running constantly.

Features

Something interesting worth noting is gesture support for launching frequently used apps. If you don’t want to pin a certain icon into the dockable area at the bottom of Itchy Thumb you can set and use a gesture for opening that application. Every time you draw the letter ‘F,’ for example, the Facebook application will open. You can add and remove gestures if you stop using one or want to add a few more.

Another neat feature is the ability to hold down an application to trigger a menu allowing you to quickly kill background tasks or even uninstall applications. If you think the standard method for uninstalling applications in Android is entirely too long [you’re not the only one] this is a breath of fresh air for those of us who are constantly trying out and uninstalling applications.

This application is free in the Android market and you can get it by scanning the QR code at the beginning of this article.

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Enjoy!

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