The Android market is completely saturated with launchers, sidebar apps and more. It’s no secret, but Android users love to customize their devices, so no one is complaining. While there are a lot of mini launchers and sidebar apps available, there aren’t many that hold true to the stock Android design and elements. Sidebar Plus is exactly what the name implies, it’s a sidebar launcher that maintains the core Android look and feel.
What is it and what does it do
With Sidebar Plus you can access apps, setting toggles, and more all from a convenient side launcher. It runs quietly in the background, and when you want to call upon the sidebar all you have to do is swipe your finger from the edge of the screen in. You can customize or resize the launcher to your liking, alter its color and configure personal shortcuts. Even better, it includes several different modes one of which is called the “big bar” and offers more functionality. More specifically, there are three different sidebars all of which can be called by swiping from a different area of the screen.
- Includes multiple sidebar launchers each with different functionality (3 by default), you can add more in the premium version
- The different sidebars can be opened by interacting with varying portions of the screen
- The big bar includes support for widgets and dashclock extensions
- All bars can be activated from anywhere, including while playing games or using fullscreen apps
- Tons of customization options
- Premium features are only offered on a five day trial basis, after which you’re limited to only two sidebars each with a very select number of items in the free version
- Uses about 30MB of RAM while running
- From what I can tell the quick notification icon (which enables or disables the sidebars temporarily) cannot be turned off
Sidebar Plus includes three different sidebars all meshed together to form one functional launcher. Each offers different functionality and shortcuts, and you call upon them by interacting with a specific portion of the screen.
The app launcher is called by swiping from the edge at the very top of the screen. It displays all installed apps on the device by default, but you can completely customize which icons appear. For example, if you want a launcher totally comprised of game shortcuts you can do that.
The “big bar” is called by swiping from the edge starting at the middle of the screen. It basically includes notifications, quick setting toggles and more. The best part is that you can display any widget on your device in this sidebar.
The final sidebar is the settings launcher. It is accessed by swiping from the edge starting at the bottom of the screen. By default it includes a digital clock, a brightness slider, and several stock setting shortcuts. From this menu you can quickly access wireless connection menus, screen rotation settings and more.
You can also add more bars depending on what type of functionality you want. You can customize a lot of different aspects pertaining to the sidebars including opacity, color scheme (three available), and more. Perhaps the coolest feature is that the “big bar” supports dashclock extensions, which are essentially more advanced widgets. If you already have Dashclock installed you can take full advantage of them.
I’m sure you’re already familiar with launchers so the above description should suffice in explaining how this one works. If you didn’t understand what was said just know that these sidebars offer quick access to installed apps, widgets and more from anywhere on your device. You can activate them at any time, even while running fullscreen apps and games.
Sidebar Plus is available for free, but full access is only offered for a five day trial. After the trail expires, you will be limited to two bars at a time. In addition, you can only use up to 10 items (shortcuts) on the regular page, and 4 items on the big bar. If you want more functionality you can purchase the premium version for $2.49, or you can buy each of the features separately (see the screenshot to the right).
It’s also worth noting that sidebar plus includes a persistent notification icon that allows you to disable the launcher at will. To enable it again all you have to do is tap the same icon. From what I can see, it cannot be disabled in the settings. Perhaps in the premium version it can be disabled.
For reference, Sidebar Plus uses about 30MB of RAM while running.
Conclusion and download link
Sidebar Plus is yet another launcher type app for Android. It does have a pretty unique approach which makes it stand out from other offerings, though. It includes support for multiple launchers each with varying functionality. The premium trail (which lasts for five days) includes three bars: one for app shortcuts, another for widgets and notifications called “big bar,” and a third for settings. (Of course, after the premium trial runs out you’re limited to only two bars at a time with a small selection of items for each.) You can customize each of the bars to your liking through the app settings, and you can disable it temporarily [if necessary] thanks to a notification icon. It does uses about 30MB of RAM while running, which isn’t too bad for a launcher but may be a bit high for low-end devices.
All in all, it has different mechanics, but much of the same features when it comes to operating as a launcher. If you’re looking for something different, check out Sidebar Plus. If you like it, I would definitely recommend purchasing the premium version for the added functionality.
Price: Free, $2.49 (pro)
Version reviewed: 1.1gp
Requires: Android 2.2 and up
Download size: 2.0MB