A good while back (like last May), I promised a couple people that I’d write about some of my most respected Android apps.  Here comes my first post towards fulfilling that promise.

Tasker is, without question, my favourite app of all time at this stage.  It’s a productivity/automation tool to watch for certain circumstances and then respond by performing certain actions.

Theoretical uses

Unfortunately such a description alone doesn’t really do Tasker justice, so ask yourself:

  • What if your phone could automatically see that you’re in close proximity of your local supermarket, and remind you of the groceries you need to buy?
  • What if your phone could automatically shut down a bunch of radios and reduce screen brightness to save power if the battery is getting low?
  • What if you could make your phone do something by giving it a shake or tipping it upside down?
  • What if you could prevent access to certain apps by means of a pass code?
  • What if your phone could remember where you parked your car, and navigate you back to it?
  • What if your phone’s wallpaper could automatically change based on the current weather?

It’s hard for me to come up with a big list of usage ideas for this app, because with a good imagination the possibilities really are endless.  Tasker will equip your phone with the ability to achieve all of the above, and so much more.

My uses

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the (possibly) more interesting things that I use Tasker to do at this time.  These are things that I mostly had to do manually (and hence remember to do).  I love that this is now all automatic—the phone is now smart enough to relieve me of that manual work.

Detect when I’m supposed to be sleeping, and minimise disturbances

Because I now work shifts, I need to schedule my sleep to minimise fatigue.  I use Google Calendar for this.  Tasker sees my sleep schedule and automatically silences notifications while I’m asleep (leaving calls audible on purpose).  It only does this if I’ve plugged it into the bedside charger though, thus forcing me not to forget to charge my phone overnight.  It could also respond to texts on my behalf to let people know that I’m currently asleep.

Detect when I’m working, minimise battery drain and keep quiet

My work schedule is in a Google Calendar.  Tasker takes advantage of this and silences my phone while I’m on the road.  Since I can’t touch my phone while I’m working, it makes sense to minimise any temptation to do so.  Also, there are days where I get home more than 15 hours after I leave for work.  If I want my phone to have a chance of still being alive by the end of that, it makes sense to disable things that aren’t going to deliver any value anyway.  What benefit would constantly scanning for Wi-Fi access points all the way from Port Melbourne to Box Hill achieve, especially if I can’t use the internet anyway?

Detect when I’m not responding to my morning alarm, and get aggressive

I once missed a day of work because I slept through my alarm.  I slept through my alarm because I was sick (so I was legitimately able to call in sick), but primarily because the alarm’s volume was too low.  Tasker now lets the alarm go for five minutes but then ramps up the alarm volume, vibrates and beeps if I don’t acknowledge the alarm.  It could start hurling insults at me in a British accent, call my housemate on his phone for assistance and/or blast something loud through the lounge room speakers if this doesn’t prove effective enough in the future.

Detect when I’m in the car, and read out text messages as I receive them

Since losing my licence is detrimental to keeping my job, I try to be on my best behaviour behind the wheel of my own car.  I could just ignore texts if they come in while I’m driving, but if my phone can detect that I’m driving and read those texts out in response to that, then why shouldn’t I take advantage?

Detect when I’m using apps that benefit from landscape orientation, and enable screen rotation during that time

I don’t keep automatic screen rotation on because it’s annoying when you don’t want the screen to rotate.  On the other hand, some apps (such as Gallery) really benefit from landscape orientation—so much so that I’d typically manually enable it before opening those apps.  With Tasker, though, that’s now automated away.

Detect when I don’t actually need the phone to lock, and disable the keyguard

Buttons won’t be pressed accidentally while the phone is on my bedside table, right?  The keyguard in such a situation is actually a hindrance.  Tasker now disables the keyguard in those circumstances, re-enabling it afterwards.

Other people’s uses

A Google search for Tasker will reveal a whole bunch of articles and forum posts written by people sharing what they’ve done with it.  Some people have set up blogs (such as Profileify) to collect this knowledge, while others contribute such things directly to the Tasker wiki.  A lot of people limit the functionality to their own phones, but with access to the internet and server-side scripting, the possibilities become even slightly more endless than they were before.

I’d love to hear about how it goes for you if you purchase it (£3.49 at this time, and worth every penny in my opinion), and what interesting things you achieve with it.