August 19, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Tasker is the ultimate Android app. It creates profiles to automatically change settings, delivers shortcuts, helps manage daily activities, and automates many of the mundane tasks that you attempt to perform each day. All without much effort (other than set-up process).
Tasker uses “contexts” to trigger tasks or setting changes. A context could be something as simple as the day of the week, a headset being plugged in, having a certain battery percentage, or entering a certain location.
Once a context takes place, it triggers an action like turning off auto-sync, loading Pandora, or sending a text message to your girlfriend to let her know you’re 5 minutes away. The app features mutli-context and multi-task options that turn this into an more powerful than you may have imagined.
Locale was the first automated app that Android users embraced, but many turned sour once the app began charging money for add-ons and actually became less useful. Tasker is also a paid app (£3.99) that’s not perfect but is worth giving the old 24-hour try to see if you’d like to keep it. Below are some examples of what you can do with Tasker.
Set Periodic AutoSyncs
AutoSync is great for keeping you up to date, but not for conserving battery. Tasker makes it easier to balance the two by only syncing on certain days or only at designated intervals. For instance, I’ve set Tasker to only auto-sync to send me email once per hour Monday-Friday.
- Press “New” and create a Context for Day.
- Select Day of the Week, and then choose each weekday.
- Click the “+” button and choose Net > Auto-Sync > On, and then press “Done” to save.
- Click the left Calendar icon and select “Add” from the Context menu. Add a context for time and select 9:00am to 9:02am.
- Select repeat for 1 hour (or however often you want to check) and press “Done.”
- Then create an exit task, which will turn Auto-Sync off again. Tap where it says “Auto Sync On” and choose “Add Exit Task” from the menu pop-up.
- Then follow the same steps you used to turn Auto-Sync on (only you’ll set to “Off”).
Tip: you can also create a time-based Context to go into Airplane mode at n1ight. I created a context very similar to this to send the phone into airplane mode at 1 am in case I fall asleep while listening to Pandora.
Open Media apps list when headset plugged in
People usually want to open media apps when they plug in their headset. Why not create a menu to make it easier?
- Create a new “State” context and select “Headset Plugged”
- Add a task by pressing App > Load App
- Select your apps like doubleTwist, Google Listen, MoodAgent, Slacker, etc.
Save and the next time you plug in your headset, a small menu will pop-up with options for which apps to load. You can also add-on other features like increasing media volume (Audio > Media volume)
Create settings widgets
- Long press on home screen and select Widget > Task
- Create any task you want performed, then press the ? icon in the bottom right and select an icon for your widget
- Press “Make Widget” and that task will be performed whenever the widget is clicked.
Create context-based voice reminders
I have bills that I sometimes forget to pay and I don’t feel like paying companies to remind me (or late fees). Tasker can create a time or day-based reminder to let me know.
- Create a new “Date” context and select the day(s) that bills are due
- Click the “+” button and select Misc > Say
- Enter in text like “Don’t forget that rent is due today. Pay $1,200 to landlord by 3PM.” When the date comes, your phone will play a voice note reminding you.
Send SMS or launch apps based on location
I’m trying to become the mayor of an establishment I frequent but sometimes forget to check-in on Foursquare. Tasker can perform tasks based on location, so Foursquare can load whenever I get within a predetermined distance.
- Create a “Location” context. If you don’t like to keep GPS on constantly, make sure only “Net” is highlighted so it will affix to your network (still decently accurate).
- Click “Get Fix” to narrow to your location and then narrow your radius to 30-50m (tap map to zoom in/out for more accuracy)
- Load app and select “Foursquare.”
You can also use this trick to load Astrid when you go to work or SportyPal when you enter the park. It even works to call or send an “I’m nearby” text to your friend when you enter his/her neighborhood. (Create a new task and select Phone > “Call” or “Send SMS”)
Automatically change settings for particular apps
I turn off GPS unless I am about search for something in Google Maps, Foursquare, or the like. But I also forget to turn it on before I launch these apps, so it’s better to have them load instantly. Tasker includes settings that can change settings whenever and app is launched.
- Create an “Application” context and select whatever app you want.
- Press Misc > GPS and set it to on.
You can do this for any GPS-dependent app like Foursquare, Maps, Places, etc. Also consider turning on Wi-Fi for apps like Boxee Remote or VLC Remote, turning off sleep time for games, and much more.
Create Notification shortcuts
- Create any context applicable to what you’re trying to do. Then create an action and choose Alert > Notify and title it. You can make it permanent if you wish, or press “Done” and save.
- Then Add another action for anything you can think of – Load App, Add setting, etc. – and save.
- Add an Exit Task to end the notifications (Alert > Notify cancel).
Change settings based on battery life
- Create a “State” context and select “Battery Level”
- Set the From slider to “0” and the To slider “30”
- Then create actions that will toggle settings that affect battery: GPS (Misc > GPS), Airplane, Auto Sync, Bluetooth, Mobile Data, Wi-Fi, or WiMax (Network)
Kill Applications (pre-Froyo)
We usually don’t like task killers, but there are cases where you may desire to do it. I often forget to turn off my running app when leaving the park, so I stop the app once I leave. This works only on phones running Android 2.1 or lower.
- Create any context applicable to what you’re trying to do. Then create an action and choose “App” > “Kill App”
- Choose the app you plan to end
There are plenty of things to do with Tasker. From turning off features based on battery settings to creating shortcuts to features based on hardware gestures, you can play around with this app for several days and come up with new ideas for what to do. Download Tasker and see for yourself.
for Android 1.6 or higher
Use this download link if you have an Android 1.5 phone