How To Turn Your Android Phone Into A Fully Automated Superphone

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How To Turn Your Android Phone Into A Fully Automated Superphone

What if your phone automatically went silent when you step into the movie theatre? Texted your significant other when you finished your long commute? Or automatically turned down the volume when a particularly loud friend called? It can; here’s how.

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Since Tasker can do nearly anything on your phone (it’s mostly limited by your imagination), here’s some up-front ideas about what kinds of uses seem particularly attractive:

Set preferences for each application: Give the Kindle app a longer screen time-out. Make Maps or Foursquare automatically turn on GPS and have a file browser launch when you trade out SD cards. Have your music and other audio apps lower the volume to 50 per cent when you plug in headphones, so you never get a way-too-loud moment.

Time of day automation: Make your phone go into aeroplane mode overnight, but re-connected for a few minutes every 30 minutes to grab messages. Set up your phone to play specific or random songs from your collection as an alarm, back up files from your SD card every day, load up an application at a certain time.

Set up contact rules: If you’ve got a friend who talks too loud, make your call volume go down when they ring. Create a home screen widget that sends an automatic SMS (“In the car”, maybe). Set your phone to pop up a more iPhone-style message box rather than background notifications when you miss calls or get SMS from certain people. Have your phone always record messages from a certain caller.

&bull: More fun, crazy-advanced stuff: Encrypt and decrypt data on the SD card based on your rules. Have speaker phone turn on when you lay your phone flat on a table. Change the home screen icons for apps, have your phone get drastically efficient when battery’s below 10 per cent and change your wallpapers to reflect the time of day or the number of messages.

Those use cases barely scratch the surface, really. Take the developer’s tour and you’ll see there are variables, hundreds of events and triggers and nearly infinite setups. Want to have Reddit.com launch on your browser if your alarm clock goes off on a Tuesday while Wi-Fi is on? You got it.

We’d need to write a research-paper-length treatise to cover everything Tasker can do for you, so we’ll instead offer up a few examples of app models we’ve found handy.

Task 1: Turn on GPS/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi for Certain Apps Automatically

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In this case, we’re going to choose Application, then pick out the app we want to apply a rule to. You can pick out apps one at a time and apply your “Tasks” to them, but you can also apply Tasks to all applications or pick out apps you don’t want your Tasks to apply to with the “Not” button at bottom. We’ll just pick out one app, Maps, which I almost always want GPS to be turned on for.[imgclear]

Now it’s time to tell Tasker what Task we want to fire when this Context is happening. As you can see at left, you basically get your whole system to play with. The thing we want, GPS, is under “Misc”.[imgclear]

enter in a variable

This trick worked fairly well on my Nexus One, despite Tasker providing a pop-up note that application exit watching wasn’t as stable on Android 2.0 and later. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t launch GPS and I do it myself.

Task 2: Create an Ultimate Morning Alarm

The next step, adding multiple tasks to a time condition, isn’t all that different, but it does show off how far Tasker can go in automating your phone. So let’s create Kevin’s Ultimate Alarm.[imgclear]

  • MediaMusic PlayMusic Play Dir. After long-clicking on the “Dir” field and choosing my Music folder, I also checked “Audio Only” and “Random”. If you wanted a particular song, you could swap “Music Play” for “Music Play Dir”.
  • AppLoad AppRemember the Milk. Fairly simple and I could set a different starting page in Remember the Milk’s own settings, if I liked.
  • MiscSay. Then just fill in the text you want, choose a language and mess with any other fields you’d like. “Stream” sets the output you’d like the audio to go through, which helps if you’ve got other things like songs going too. You can, of course, mess with the pitch and speed of the voice, too.

That’s all there is to that one, but it’s a pretty nice package.

Task 3: Make Your Phone Quiet Down When Face-Down

Now I’m going to create a kind of “Quiet Down” mode for my phone. When I put it face down on a flat surface, like arriving at my desk for work, it should turn off GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (and, heck, you can turn off EDGE/3G data, if you’d like), and then turn the system, ringer and media volumes all the way down but keep vibrate on. You could add an Exit task to turn some or all of these back on, but that’s giving a bit too much leeway to the phone’s sensors.[imgclear]

For the tasks, I added “Bluetooth” and “Wi-Fi” from the Net menu, set to Off, “GPS” from Misc set to Off, and set the volumes for “Media Volume” and “System Volume” to 0 from the Audio menu. “Silent Mode” with Vibrate could simplify your setup, but I like to be sure. Hit Done and you’re all set.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what Tasker can do, but we know it can do many, many more cool things. If you grab Tasker and give it a try, or just daydream a great if-then combination, by all means — tell us in the comments. We’ll check back in on this post and include the great Tasker tasks in a follow-up.

Special thanks goes out to “Bloggerific Himself”, who turned us onto Tasker via email.

Comments

  • wow. this looks super awesome. definitely gonna give it a try.

    Also, remember that regardless of trial versions, ALL android apps can be tried for 24 hours, during which you can get a refund any time.

  • woah. Something like this makes it harder to choose between a droid and an iphone- probably going for one of those when my trusty brick dies- which hopefully isn’t for a while yet. (budget nokia from 2006 = brick)

  • I’ve been using Locale for a long time, that does much the same thing as Tasker.

    Pretty much my favourite set of situations is:

    – I’ve subscribed to a shared google calendar for NSW public holidays. So I have a “public holidays” situation that activates when there’s an event in that calendar.
    – Activate an “at work” situation when I’m in the general vicinity of my office, it’s between 8-6 on a weekday, and the “public holidays” condition is inactive. That condition turns down the ring and notification tones and changes the wallpaper and ringtones.
    – Activate an “in a meeting” situation, when the “at work” situation is active and there’s an appointment in my work calendar. No more fumbling with my phone to silence it every time I walk in to a meeting.

  • @titanium_geek or should that be iTitanium_geek.

    your ‘brick’ has had an app that does the same for at least 4 years now. you might want to stick with the iPhone rather than the droid, sheep dont use the Androids

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