At the moment you can't remove the pods, we may change this in a future release.
I am not sure what you mean about the Layers Panel? If the layers panel is open you should not need to take the application out of full screen mode to see it unless you have specifically hidden it.
There are shortcut keys to change the current layer (the default Ctrl-Up and Ctrl-Down aren't working currently, I have fixed this for our first update release) that can be set in the shortcut panel if you want to select layers that way.
Hope that helps!