Tasker for Android

Tasker is an Android app that’s been around for a very long time and you can find reviews of it all over the internet, along with various guides and tips. This is my take on it.

The short description is that Tasker is an automation application for Android that can run tasks based on various contexts that are defined in profiles. A context can be a time of day, a location or an event triggered by a change of state in the phone or an application.

Like many things in Tasker, this can get a little confusing and getting your head around the terminology is the first step to using it.

The best place to start is, unsurprisingly, the user guide. While most apps are fairly intuitive and you can dive in without much reading, Tasker really isn’t like that. You need to know the difference between state contexts and event contexts, understand enter and exit tasks and when you need them and a whole host of other little things that will just frustrate you until you get how Tasker operates.

The beginners guide is great, so I won’t go into how the basics work here. Just suffice to say that it’s well worth a read before you dive in.

The GUI takes a bit of getting used to as well. While I can appreciate that it’s necessarily complicated because of what it’s trying to achieve, there are some odd little quirks and inconsistencies.

For example, if you want to delete a profile you can long press on it and a trash icon appears at the top of the screen. Tapping on the icon deletes the profile.

If you want to delete a task you can long press on it and a trash icon appears at the top of the screen. Tapping on the icon deletes the task.

If you want to delete an action… go on, guess…

Nope. If you long press on it you get cut and copy icons at the top of the screen but no trash can to delete.

Bin at top to delete profile
Bin at top to delete task
But drag to bottom to delete action

To delete an action you have to long press on the right hand side of the action and then drag it to the trash icon that appears at the bottom of the screen.

Erm. Yeah, not great GUI design and I just can’t think of a reason for the inconsistency.

It’s worth getting past those little problems though. There are a number of other automation apps for Android, but Tasker is the most powerful and more importantly it has also attracted an ecosystem of plugins that enhance the basic functionality, adding new contexts and actions.

I use a couple of plugins.

The first is Notification Listener to read and respond to incoming notifications. While Tasker does have native functionality to do this, it uses Android’s accessibility features to access the notifications. Notification Listener uses the newer notification access permissions and provides access to more than just the notification title.

I use it to read out the sender’s name for emails and text messages using the text to speech engine and the Tasker “Say” action. For no particular reason other than I can, of course.

The second is the SharpTools plugin that helps to link Tasker to the Samsung SmartThings platform. I’ve described before how I use that one to set my ST presence mode rather than the ST app itself.

And of course this brings me to one of the reasons I’m using Tasker. I want to tie it in to my home automations and other little systems. I’ve described Pushover as a way to receive incoming information. Now I want to use Tasker to push information from the phone to my server… that’s the next mini project!

in Mobile

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