Automation App Tasker Gets Detailed Update

Automation App Tasker Gets Detailed Update

Jun 9, 2015

The eponymous, well regarded behind-the-scenes tool Tasker is getting a pretty nice update.

What’s New
* Android app backup support (disabled by default)
* dynamic configuration (and task) loading for e.g. remote device administration
* improved local backup/restore
* individual context activation states shown in UI
* task testing: problems shown in-line
* accelerometer support for lower power and more responsive location detection (where hardware available)
Many more additions, changes and bugfixes.
Details: http://tasker.dinglisch.net/changes.html

Tasker is available for $2.99.

Theme Thursday: Tasker and Minimalistic Text

Theme Thursday: Tasker and Minimalistic Text

Aug 2, 2012

I have written before about using Minimalistic Text as a great addition to any home screen. Any plain or overdone home screen can instantly get a modern, sleek makeover by adding text based icons or notifications to the home screen. Because Minimalistic Text supports any .ttf font the possibilities are pretty much limitless, and are only limited by available time and creativity. Well, kind of. My only gripe with Minimalistic Text is that the available automatic display options are slightly limited to just basic functions such as time, date, calendar events, and weather.

I usually hide the notification bar in GO Launcher and as such I miss out on some important notifications especially using two different emails on my phone. There is no way to display missed alerts though Minimalistic Text alone so a third party application is needed because MT does support local variables. For this I used Tasker, which, comparatively, is pretty expensive as far as apps go but its still only the price of a good McDonald’s trip.

Now I am not going to lie, Tasker is a big boy’s tool for Android, and I tried to dive headfirst and only got confused quickly. The key is to download the already created templates on the Wiki website through the ‘Browse Examples’ command in the menu. These require some tinkering but most moderately experienced users can figure out what to do relatively quickly. This is really one of a hundred uses for Tasker as it is an incredibly powerful app and I could probably spend a year writing weekly blog posts on all of Tasker’s uses, but for this post it basically serves as a conduit to tell Minimalistic Text that there is a notification.

After setting these variables up in Minimalistic Text, everything is ready to be edited. The downloaded example showed missed calls, GMails, and text messages but I copied and edited the Gmail one to display notifications for my Ohio State BuckeyeMail account as well. Adding fonts to MT is easy as importing some from a computer into a single folder then scanning that folder inside of Minimalistic Text. Once everything is set up enjoy crafting a great home screen that, if done correctly, will definitely make those iPhone owners jealous.

Tasker Review

Tasker Review

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, I’ve:

  • Doubled my battery life.
  • Built my own “find my phone” 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 I’m at church.

Tasker is an app that can control virtually every aspect of your phone, by using a basic rules-based programming. Don’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. You’ll see the words “if” and “then” quite a bit in Tasker. For example, let’s say every time you plug in your headphones, it’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.

Here’s some more examples:

  • IF I’m reading my RSS feeds, THEN don’t shut off the screen.
  • IF It’s after 1AM, THEN shut off WiFi, and Bluetooth.
  • IF my friend calls (the one who’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.

Here’s an example of a Tasker program I built:If I lose my phone, I can text it a special code from my wife’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 it’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: “Local Google Voice Set Plug” will “ control automatically which phones in your GV account should ring, based on all the great conditions Locale offers, like your Location, SSID or Time.” In other words, when you’re at work, business calls will ring in. When you’re home, just friends and family. Automatically. “Google Voice Callback” programs Tasker to “…detect [an] outgoing call, and uses Google Voice (GV) to call you back and connect you to the call.”

Although incredible powerful and useful, Tasker is not perfect. It is really only for the advanced Android user. If you wouldn’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 you’re a creature of habit, then Tasker is your best friend. If you keep strange and varying hours, then many of the timed functions won’t work for you. There were certain functions I couldn’t find or figure out while tinkering, and finding support for this app is a bit on the sparse side.

The app costs £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 you’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.