If an alarm clock (second example in the OP) requires me to remember weird gestures something is wrong. An alarm clock does not lack visual screen space and the main purpose of the alarm clock is to set the time and then close it. It doesn't have to look good or save space to show something else.
For a browser or a book reader it's different, there i want to fill the whole screen with content as reading is the main purpose of using that app. If i have to tripple sweep, double tap or whatever to get to the menu i don't care.