[Android] Get a Windows-style taskbar and Start Menu with ‘Taskbar- Windows 8 Style’

Taskbar on top (2)The Start Menu and taskbar are invaluable tools that mobile devices do not take advantage of. In fact, Windows Phone devices don’t even use the iconic Start Menu. In some ways, it makes sense that Microsoft bucked the tradition. Still, I happen to think that if implemented correctly, the Start Menu could be extremely useful for mobile devices, especially tablets with larger screens. What if you could add Windows Start Menu and taskbar functionality to Android? Taskbar- Windows 8 Style is a unique Android application that brings the aforementioned Start Menu features to mobile platforms.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Taskbar- Windows 8 Style adds a taskbar to the Android OS. It displays at the bottom of the screen and stays on top of all other windows. In addition to showing off applications that are currently running, it includes a Start Menu with user specified shortcuts.

Taskbar UIPros

  • Provides instant access to the application tray (through the Start Menu) and you can interact with active apps
  • The Start Menu can be customized to include user specified shortcuts, quick settings and more
  • The Start Menu and taskbar stays on top of all other windows
  • Both the Start Menu and the icon can be hidden from view, a notification tray allows that (which can be disabled)
  • No root requirements or high Android version requirements
  • Totally free, and devoid of advertisements

Taskbar settingsCons

  • Taskbar and Start Menu can only be displayed at the bottom of the screen (quick icon can be moved)
  • Uses nearly 40MB of RAM while running

Discussion

The first question that anyone will ask is this, why would you want a Windows style taskbar on an Android device? To be perfectly honest, I cannot answer that question at least not in terms of practicality. Android is about customization, and this application is just another form of customization. For hardcore Android users, it’s easier to think of it as yet another launcher.

Taskbar on top

Once setup, Taskbar will do one of two separate things. First, it will add a notification to the Android tray (which can be disabled) that allows you to activate the taskbar icon. Second, a translucent Windows icon will appear in the bottom left of the display, tapping on the icon will bring up the taskbar and Start Menu. You can hide the translucent Windows icon through the notification in the system tray.

So, basically to reiterate you can hide the Windows icon through the notification tray, and you can hide the actual taskbar through the Windows icon.

When open, the taskbar will display all open or recently active applications. It’s essentially the same as calling upon the stock Android menu for recent apps. Tapping on an application icon in the tray will open up the respective app, and tapping and holding will close the app.

Taskbar edit layoutWhen you first tap the Windows icon, it will also open the Start Menu. The left side of the Start Menu displays your entire application tray, or all apps installed on your device. The right side of the Start Menu displays quick settings by default, a link to the Android settings and will also include custom shortcuts you add. You can actually customize the entire right side of the Start Menu, by adding your own shortcuts and quick settings.

This can be done quickly and easily through the Taskbar application settings. You can also reorder the Start Menu to match your personal taste. Furthermore, you can customize the Start Menu height, the window transparency and the icon location. Although, it doesn’t matter where you place the icon, the taskbar and Start Menu will always appear at the very bottom of the display.

Taskbar edit shortcutsTo the very right is a taskkiller, and a home button. The taskkiller will close all open applications, and the home button will return you to the main homescreen. Pretty standard stuff with those functions really.

Sure, a taskbar is a great addition to mobile operating systems in theory, but the question remains, does it work well? In my opinion, it does work well and the taskbar was responsive on all of the devices I installed it on.

Of course, it’s only necessary to use the app if you want instant access to your most used apps from anywhere within the OS. The fact that it stays on top of all other windows makes it a reliable quick start menu, or launcher.

For reference, Taskbar uses nearly 40MB of RAM while running.

Conclusion and download link

Taskbar notificationTaskbar- Windows 8 Style is a unique launcher for Android that adds a Windows style taskbar and Start Menu to the screen. The app is easy to work with — you can easily dismiss or recall both the launcher icon (Windows icon) and the Start Menu — the taskbar displays all recent apps, and the Start Menu includes quick settings and shortcuts as necessary. You can customize the Start Menu to your liking to include folder shortcuts, app shortcuts and various quick settings. It stays on top of all other windows when active, providing instant access to multitasking options and your favorite apps from anywhere within the OS. That being said there are some drawbacks, such as its somewhat high RAM usage and niche usefulness. However, if you like the idea then get this app.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 0.92

Requires: Android 2.1 and up

Download size: 1.1MB

Taskbar-Windows 8 Style on Play Store

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7 comments

  1. Coyote

    [@Coyote] btw this was a bit trollish… sorry bout that.

    But I do argue that the fact they are watching us doesn’t concern me, it’s when they try to change what we are doing that does. It’s the difference in parenthood, you have good parents that watch and protect, interjecting bits of useful wisdom but letting the kids learn on their own. Then you have helicopter parents that are paranoid and over protective to the point of harm and ignorance.

  2. Coyote

    [@Frank] So you’re saying everyone in the App market that even conciders installing an app should have their phone tricked out like a phreak? Sure, you do that… hope you don’t get caught for whatever reasons you have for being so privacy concerned.

    Personally the tracking and collection of information doesn’t bother me. In an ideal world that information will be used to customize and tailor every facet of my life to make it more enjoyable.

  3. Frank

    [@Coyote] Dear Coyote,
    I am sorry if you did not understand. Privacy nowadays is cost- and time-intensive to have. The good old days of WinMo are gone.
    Just in case you wanted privacy:
    It starts off with you saving a few bucks to get a branded, locked phone full of spy- and bloatware despite buying an unlocked one for much more money.
    It continues with that you had to re-flash your unlocked phone with firmware that does not contain Google- and provider-bloatware and -spyware.
    Next is tha PDroid patch (which makes you independent of what a vendor wants: I can install that app and just tell PDroid to lock the cam, do not need to worry) and a firewall. Operating an own DNS will not hurt.

    To say it in one sentence:
    As long as you did not even go the very first step it’s simply useless to complain about a single app asking for ‘inappropriate’ rights.
    Or like the bible says it: Gospel of Matthew 7:3-5 :)

    P.S. in times of PRISM and Tempora it’s more important than ever

  4. Coyote

    [@Frank] Heh, not trolling and not particularly stupid about these things. My phone for instance is carrier locked so no root. Hence the reason I tested on my tablet (rooted, firewalled, with network logger installed).

    And you didn’t do much to assuage my concerns other that call me stupid so I’ll ask again. Why would this need camera and mic functions, and why no mention in the change log? There are no functions in the app that even call for media recording. Any time an app updates and adds features I question why. Maybe you should as well, instead of relying on firewalls and adblockers that themselves could be tracking you.

  5. Frank

    [@Coyote] People like you always appear pretty funny to me (in the “don’t know if trolling or stupid” way).
    IF you really were concerned about privacy you rooted and patched your phone to use PDroid and a firewall. Or are you just complaining?
    BTW: Using Google spyware (play, etc) on your smartphone? Then just s* up.

  6. Coyote

    Not a bad app, but needs a little more work. The UI is very basic looking and could use a few themes to choose from, also changing the windows logo would be nice (could save the dev some legal fees too). Pulling up a list of all apps anytime/anywhere is something I’ve looked for before and this does it pretty well (though custom subfolders and such would be awesome). The taskbar however bland it looks is much better than stock, always hated how JB changed the task manager screen to push out other apps and not just draw over them like gingerbread did…. plus I’ve always loved the start-menu and glad to see it moved to android, now if only microsoft would put it back where it really belongs.