SwipePad is similar to other apps on the Market such as Power Strip and QuickDesk in that it gives you quick access to a set of custom shortcuts from wherever you are– in an app, in settings, etc.–but in using SwipePad over the past week, I’ve found it superior despite somewhat limited features.
I never took to either of those previous apps, as they have to be set as the default launcher application and be bound to the Home button on the phone. Having them set as the launcher seems to introduce a tiny bit of delay in actually returning to the your home screens, and being bound to the home key is a bit awkward, since it’s already used for two other functions– returning home and bringing up the running apps list. SwipePad works differently: simply swipe in toward the center of the screen from one of the edges or corners (you can set whichever you prefer) and a grid of twelve shortcuts appears. From there, let go on the one you want to open, or hover to assign it.
I prefer swiping in from either of the two bottom corners, and have set shortcuts for apps like Dialer, Browser and Maps as well as shortcuts to turn off the screen, reboot, and update Twitter. But you can choose any shortcuts available on your phone: apps, contacts, browser bookmarks, etc. An add-on called Tasking adds contextual actions for the currently running app, such as uninstalling it, visiting its Market page, etc.
SwipePad does currently lack the ability to use desktop widgets, a feature both Power Strip and QuickDesk have, but for me, its advantages more than make up for this limitation. And as a new app that still has a “beta” label, it’s possible that feature will be added down the line.