Sep 17, 2010
If you buy one app for your phone, buy the Tasker app.
This app changes everything I thought I knew about my Android phone, and after hours of playing with it, I strongly recommend that every “power user” purchases it.
Why do you need the Tasker app? Simply describing what this app could do in a few short paragraphs would be selling it dramatically short.
So far with Tasker, Iâ€™ve:
- Doubled my battery life.
- Built my own â€œfind my phoneâ€ app.
- Created an alarm that plays my favorite song, and literally greets me with an audible voice.
- Programmed my phone to automatically go vibrate-only when Iâ€™m at church.
Tasker is an app that can control virtually every aspect of your phone, by using a basic rules-based programming. Donâ€™t let that scare you! You may use rules-based programming in your job everyday, when you build a formula for spreadsheets. Tasker is even easier than that. Youâ€™ll see the words â€œifâ€ and â€œthenâ€ quite a bit in Tasker. For example, let’s say every time you plug in your headphones, itâ€™s to listen to Pandora Radio. You could build this mini-program: “IF headphones get plugged in, THEN open Pandora radio.” Next time you plug your headphones in, your favorite station will immediately start playing.
Hereâ€™s some more examples:
- IF Iâ€™m reading my RSS feeds, THEN donâ€™t shut off the screen.
- IF Itâ€™s after 1AM, THEN shut off WiFi, and Bluetooth.
- IF my friend calls (the one whoâ€™s voice is really, really loud) THEN lower call volume for that caller by 50%.
- IF I’m not using an app that doesn’t require GPS, THEN shut it off.
- IF I get a call from a certain number THEN automatically record it.
Hereâ€™s an example of a Tasker program I built:If I lose my phone, I can text it a special code from my wifeâ€™s phone. Tasker will then immediately post reward/contact information on the main screen, play a really annoying sound (so I can find it if itâ€™s in the couch), turn on GPS, triangulate a position, send me those coordinates, and then shuts off GPS to save battery life. Amazing!
There are also multiple plugins for Tasker that are incredible helpful: â€œLocal Google Voice Set Plugâ€ will â€œ control automatically which phones in your GV account should ring, based on all the great conditions Locale offers, like your Location, SSID or Time.â€ In other words, when youâ€™re at work, business calls will ring in. When youâ€™re home, just friends and family. Automatically. â€œGoogle Voice Callbackâ€ programs Tasker to â€œ…detect [an] outgoing call, and uses Google Voice (GV) to call you back and connect you to the call.â€
Although incredible powerful and useful, Tasker is not perfect. It is really only for the advanced Android user. If you wouldnâ€™t call yourself that, then this app might be far more than you need. Setting up Tasker is easy once you get your mind around the concepts, but unfortunately, the training manual is long and not very easy to read. If youâ€™re a creature of habit, then Tasker is your best friend. If you keep strange and varying hours, then many of the timed functions wonâ€™t work for you. There were certain functions I couldnâ€™t find or figure out while tinkering, and finding support for this app is a bit on the sparse side.
The app costs Â£3.99, which is about $6.00 US, which is more than most are willing to pay for an app. Once a user learns the flow and function of Tasker, it could potentially replace multiple paid apps. If you are an Android power user, comfortable around computers, and like to tinker, then Tasker is an app youâ€™ll likely be grateful you purchased.
For more information, you can start where I did, with these Lifehacker.com articles:
How to Turn Your Android Phone into a Fully-Automated Superphone
Push Your Automated Android to Awesome Heights with These Tasker Setups
Three Handy Tasker Profiles from Our Readers
You can also read more on the Tasker website and read the user manual (required reading) here.