Automate An Android Phone

If you own an Android phone, how would you like to mute your phone by simply flipping the phone so that the screen is facing down? Today I discovered a way to mute my phone by flipping the screen and automate more tasks with an app called Tasker, which James Kendrick wrote about in his weekly column on jkOnTheRun.

For those familiar with computers, you can think of Tasker like a scripting language, you use it to program an Android phone to execute tasks that you define when certain events, what Tasker calls contexts, occur. For example, in Tasker I have defined a set tasks to occur when the screen orientation is face down. First, I have the phone vibrate to give me feedback that the phone is going to be muted, then silent mode is enabled, and finally, the display times out after seven seconds. I learned that Tasker only executes tasks when the display is on, so when I flip my phone to mute it, I then want the display to turn off. When I pick up my phone and turn it on with the face up, Tasker runs another task to turn silent mode off.

One of the first programs I used on my Android phone is Locale, which is similar to Tasker in that it executes certain tasks when the phone is at a certain location. Locations is another context in Tasker, so you can define certain tasks to execute depending on the phone’s location. For example, I have Tasker turn Wi-Fi on when I am home and turn Wi-Fi off when I am at the office. As you can see from my first example, Tasker is much more powerful than Locale.

In a sign of just how much of a geek I am, Tasker may be providing me the most fun of any app that I have on my Nexus One. You can spend hours discovering different ways to automate things with Tasker, which makes my phone even more personalized to me. The developers of Tasker host a wiki for users to contribute examples of how they automate their phone, which is a great place for ideas on how to use Tasker. Tasker does cost about $5 as it is in the UK version of the Android Market priced in British pounds. In my opinion Tasker is well worth the $5 that I spent.