Yeah as Bigtroutz has mentioned, widgets are there to give information they can also be a shortcuts but a good widget offers the user information without entering the full application or direct access to a part of an application that would otherwise take several presses or gestures to access.
Swipe or gesture typing is a personal choice, I've used different types of this input since I had my first Android device three years ago starting with Swype. I tried a few others but signed up to the beta testing of Swype and liked it allot, I recently tried Swiftkey Flow but didn't find it worked how I wanted.
I use the stock Jelly Bean gesture keyboard now though as it does just what I want in a keyboard.
As for email, you could try one of the many email clients available on Google Play like K9 or there are many others.
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