You forgot middle-click on current open app which will open a new window, dragging an app icon to the empty overview in current workspace or another.True, under gnome shell if the app is already open there's an extra step. Right click.
Each window has a title underneath enough to know with one you wish to use. The taskbar easily becomes cluttered leading to the difficulty to distinguish windows app. You will need more skill to accurately hit own bar .Trying to tell multiple terminals or browser windows apart in Gnome Shell is just as hard. At least with the taskbar you have part of the title to go on.
Exactly how fast?You can add favorite apps to the panel in Cinnamon, still faster since you don't have to open the overlay.