I’ve been reading for a while now about just how great Tasker is. But every article or mention of Tasker states that it’s not user-friendly and not great for noobs, but if you can be bothered to put the time into learn it then it will transform your Android experience.
The other day I read an article ‘How to supercharge your Android device’s abilities with Tasker‘ and it tipped me over the edge. It’s only a couple of pounds, why don’t I just buy it and see how I get on. I must admit, it’s been my spare time obsession ever since.
What is this Tasker thing?
Tasker is an app. But it’s not an app in the usual sense, because most apps have a purpose when you boot them up. Tasker basically does nothing out of the box. Once you install it you actually have to decide what you’re going to do with it. And depending on your phone, your capabilities and your operating system, there’s a world of possibilities open to you.
Basically the clue to what Tasker does is in its name – it helps you create tasks for your phone. You’re programming it to do certain things according to your whim. At first this doesn’t sound that great but bare with me as I explain the relatively simple things I’ve done with it and the possibilities I’ve noticed while I’ve been testing an investigating.
What does it do?
Tasker basically runs a set of commands based on a set of ‘tasks’ you’ve set up. You can choose what starts those commands and then how your phone reacts as a result. Let me give you a simple example to demonstrate the possibilities.
I created the above profile. Now if you’re anything like me, you try to save battery by keeping auto-brightness on (or brightness low) when you’re not using your phone or you’re doing things like browsing or emailing that don’t require high brightness. Media volume is also low to prevent accidentally playing music out loud when you didn’t mean to. But then when you open Youtube to watch a video, you have to go and turn the brightness up and turn the volume up before you can enjoy the video – then remember to reverse the procedure when you’ve finished.
This profile means that I no longer have to do that as my phone does it for me. But how? First the profile is setup with a condition. The condition here being if I launch Youtube, Netflix or Google Play Movies to do a certain set of things. Simple enough so far. In the above screenshot you can see that condition on the left. On the right (with the green arrow) is the task(s) to be completed and (with the red arrow) the tasks to carry out when the condition has stopped (i.e. when I’ve stopped watching videos).
So what are the tasks?
These steps are carried out in order and they happen as soon as I launch the app(s). Tasker goes through and completes each task. Auto brightness is turned off (if it’s on (if you don’t have this step, the brightness cannot be changed in step 2 if it’s on)), turns brightness all the way up and sets media volume at just below maximum. So my phone is now optimised for video viewing.
Clearly I don’t want full brightness on all the time as it’ll only drain battery, so then I needed to setup some ‘exit’ tasks.
Adding the above tasks as an exit task list means that auto brightness is turned back on and volume is turned back down (so it doesn’t blast through my office by accident) and my phone is back to its optimised state. Of course there’s a lot more potential depending on what settings you like to use.
Getting more complicated
The above is a pretty simple task and not an example of the limits of Tasker. But it might have got your brain whirring about the potentials the app opens up. I’ve been trying to think about ways to optimise the way I used my phone to make my life easier and so far I’ve come up with a few different profiles.
There’s a list of my current profiles and I’ll detail them to give you more insight into the possibilities:
- Condition – (State) connected to Bluetooth (my in car CD player)
- Task ‘Car Mode’:
- Keyguard off – this turns off the pin code requirements to access the phone (great if you’re in an accident and someone needs to call an ambulance from your phone)
- Auto brightness off – same logic as with the above, turns this off so we can turn it up/down.
- Load App (Waze) – boots up Waze so I can navigate with ease.
- Display brightness (level 255) – turns brightness all the way up
- Notification volume (level 7) – turns notification volume all the way up
- Media volume (level 15) – turns media all the way up so I can hear any info from the app
- Ringer volume (level 15) – turns ringer all the way up so I know about incoming calls (no one ever rings me though)
- Load App (Ingress) – boots up Ingress so I can collect XM on the way home.
- Display Timeout (1 hour) – stops the screen from timing out and the phone from locking
- Exit Task ‘Car Mode Off’
- Keyguard on – turns the lock back on so I don’t accidentally leave my phone unlocked when I’m out and about.
- Kill App (Waze) – shuts the app down as I’m not travelling any more.
- Notification Volume (level 0) – I’m probably at home or in the office, I don’t want loud notifications!
- Ringer Volume (level 0) – see above
- Vibrate on Ringer – turns vibrate on.
- Auto brightness (on) – optimises display
So the above profile is quite simply designed to boot up some apps and make my phone brighter and louder when I’m in my car. Then do the reverse when I’m not. I could do all this myself, but it would involve remembering to do it (something I’m not great at) and spending time doing each setting and app. So by creating this profile I’ve optimised my life.
Sat or Sun
- Condition – day of the week = Saturday or Sunday
- Task ‘Wifi On’:
- Wifi on.
This one is simple. If it’s the weekend, I’m usually at home so I want Wifi on. Otherwise it can be off.
- Condition – headset plugged in.
- Task ‘Spotify’:
- Load App (Spotify) – boots app for listening to music.
- Exit Task ‘Spotify Off’
- Kill App (Spotify) – turns Spotify off. I don’t want it running if I’m not using it!
Another simple one that boots the Spotify app when I plug my headset in.
Even more complicated
Once you’ve got to those sorts of profiles you start to realise the possibilities even more. For example, you can optimise your settings (e.g. wifi on/off, bluetooth on/off, GPS on/off) based on so many different states it might make your mind boggle – day of the week, time of day, location based on GPS, location based on nearby Wifi, location based on nearest cell tower or a mixture of all of these. You then start to think about streamlining your profiles to make them work better. For example, I had a profile ‘Commute to Work’ (you can see it in the above screenshot turned off) that basically did everything the ‘In Car’ profile does but it required it to be Mon-Fri, between 07:00-09:00 and for me to be connected to the bluetooth in my car. I quickly realised I’d over-optimised that profile. I could just set it to work when connected to the bluetooth and nothing else.
Help from the internet
I’ve been watching a series of useful videos on Tasker. Watch them if you have time and you’ll see the range of possibilities available.
But you can also check out the wiki for cool profile ideas and downloads to install for easy setup.