Imagine the following scenario. You leave the office and get in your car as your device sends a text message to your spouse letting them know you are heading home, while any incoming e-mails or text messages from your clients are instantly replied to with a generic “out-of-the-office” message.
As you begin to approach a local supermarket, another text message is sent out to your family asking if anything is needed to be purchased, and any replies are read aloud through the loud speaker.
As you pull in to your driveway, your handset instantly connects your home’s Wi-Fi connection. Setting your phone into a cradle on your desk automatically adjusts the volume and starts up your favorite station on Pandora.
Does it sound too good to be true? It’s not. All of this and almost everything imaginable is possible with the highly versatile application that is Tasker by the geniuses at Dinglisch. Tasker allows you to turn your Android-powered device into a true “Android” which will perform tasks for you on certain triggers or contexts. Never again will you forget to silence your phone while in a meeting or launch your favorite music application when you plug your ear buds in as Tasker will take care of monotonous everyday tasks with ease.
What is it?
Tasker is an application for Android that performs tasks (sets of actions) based on contexts (application, time, date, location, event, gesture) in user-defined profiles, or through clickable or timed home screen widgets.
This simple concept profoundly extends your control of your Android device and it’s capabilities, without the need for ‘root’ or a special home screen. As it stands, Tasker is only limited by your own imagination, and once you start using it you will not be able to imagine your life without it. Tasker offers thousands of possibilities to make your life simpler and can even get rid of a couple of existing applications that perform a specific task because Tasker will now be able to do it all for you. Ever wanted your phone to automatically start your favorite music application when you plug in your ear buds or dock your device? You can now.
So what exactly can Tasker do for me?
Let’s just run over a couple examples to get those creative juices flowing.
- wake up with a random song from your music collection
- launch a music application when your music SD card is inserted, otherwise a file browser
- start the day with a particular application showing
- change all your home icons and wallpaper every day, or in particular locations
- create a home screen widget to:
- toggle bluetooth/wifi on/off
- launch wireless settings dialog
- show a menu of tasks to choose
- send an emergency SMS with your GPS location
- take a time-lapse photo series (possibly ‘secretly’)
- make a regular backup of a file on the SD card
- track your phone location via SMS in case of theft
- extend the use of the media button on your headset: take a picture from a distance or go to the previous media track with a long press
- record call times and destinations to the SD card
- show a popup when an SMS arrives from a particular phone number
- setup a birthday SMS to be sent months before it happens so you don’t forget
- record battery levels over time to a file on SD card
…and the list goes on and on. Once again, it is only limited by your imagination as the tools you need to make it happen are all right there for you to use.
Tasks can be carried out by a combination of different contexts or triggers such as:
- the application which is currently running
- the time (e.g. at 2:30, after 10pm, every 20 minutes until 3am)
- the date (e.g. Sundays and Mondays, 30th of every month, the 10th of June or December)
- the geographical location (e.g. at home, in the office, on the road)
- the state of something (e.g. whether the device is docked, incoming call, proximity sensor)
- when an event occurs such as:
- an SMS arrived, battery is full, headphones connected
- the device is moved in a gesture (e.g. it’s tilted 90 degrees and back in rapid succession)
- a notification is clicked or cleared
- when a Widget or Shortcut is clicked, or a Timer Widget expires on your home screen
By themselves, any one of these contexts isn’t too useful most of the time, but being able to combine as many of them as you’d like in any logical combination makes this application extremely powerful — yet somewhat difficult to master, as there are always better, smoother ways to go about things.
Actions are the tasks that are carried out when a certain combination of contexts is met. These can range from simply turning the screen on, to recording your GPS location and sending out a text message with it while turning your phone on full brightness and an alarm blaring.
These actions are broken down into quite a few categories which include Alerts, Apps, Audio, Dialog, Display, Encryption, File, Input, Media, INput, Media, Misc, Net, Phone, Plugin, Tasker, Variable, Zoom, and 3rd Party.
In addition to being a standalone application, Tasker is also compatible with some 3rd party applications such as Android Notifier, Astrid, Beyond Pod, NewsRob, SleepBot, WidgetLocker, TeslaLED, and many more which greatly increase the functionality and effectiveness of this application. This inter-connectivity allows for more advanced profiles which can carry out some of the monotonous daily work for you.
It’s possible to create widgets with Tasker which can give you a shortcut to a certain profile or simply display some data about a profile currently running. One useful widget might be a shortcut to a “Driving Mode” where once engaged, any text messages you receive will be replied to with an appropriate response without the drivers input, keeping the roads safer for everyone involved.
Some additional useful widgets include an emergency widget that upon initiation will record your GPS location, send out a text message with it, or even call 911 for you, or a widget that will silence your ringtone, media but perhaps not your alarm volume when clicked. The possibilities are truly endless.
Tasker also supports a variety of variables for system-type details such as signal strength, Wi-Fi connection details, information about the last SMS, e-mail, and phone call you have received, missed calls, phone orientation and much more which makes the creation of profiles that much easier.
You can also make custom notification using Tasker that will pop-up in your notification bar just like every other one which will do whatever you set it to do when clicked or cleared. This allows for additional creativity and progression in the complexity of your profiles.
Tasker can be purchased directly from Dinglisch for $5 along with a 7-day free trial or for $6 directly through the Android Market.
As you can you tell, Tasker is a powerful application more than capable of performing a wide range of simple to extremely complex tasks using a simple combination of contexts and actions. Please subscribe and stay on the look out for additional posts about Tasker in the future which will discuss specific profiles in detail.