Review

Tasker is a general purpose automation app for Android. It costs a few dollars and takes a bit of time to learn, but once you learn the basics it is quite useful. In this post, I briefly describe how Tasker works, then list simple things I've implemented in Tasker, and lastly describe what things in general Tasker can be useful for.

Tasker basics

The core functionality of the app is a trigger-action principle. Tasker lets you select from a wide variety of triggers (Tasker uses the word "profile") -- for example, connecting to a specific bluetooth device or it being a certain time of day. And it lets you execute a wide variety of actions -- for example, changing device volume, brightness, or more complicated things like launching apps. Then you can tell Tasker to execute one or more actions when a trigger starts/stops happening.

Two additional features which give this trigger-action paradigm more functionality are Tasker's GUI builder (Tasker uses the word "scene") and variables. The GUI builder allows you to make custom graphics appear on your phone -- for example, you can create custom buttons or dashboards. Variables are useful for storing data -- for example, you can store the SSID of your current internet connection. Tasker also lets you store lists of variables ("arrays"). 

Tasker can also do things beyond the reach of your phone. For example, with some effort, you can configure Tasker to push any data you want to a google sheet

Simple tasks I use Tasker for

Here is a list of very simple things I've implemented in Tasker, and how they help me.

  1. If my phone connects to my bluetooth headphones: open Spotify and set the volume to a good value. The "open Spotify" part is useful on the go. The "setting the volume to a good value" helps me avoid damaging my ears if the volume was accidentally left on high.
  2. If my phone is flipped over, mute the media volume. If it's flipped again, restore the previous volume. I've been using this to avoid watching and listening to YouTube ads. If I click a video and an ad starts playing, I simply flip my phone, wait a while, then flip it back. So much nicer than fiddling with the volume slider to try to mute the ad.
  3. Set phone brightness to high in the morning. Set it to low in the evening. Good for not blinding myself in the night / not being able to see my screen in the morning.
  4. Turn off haptic feedback at night. Useful for not disturbing roommates. This setting was super annoying to change manually.

Overall, I would describe these as slight time and sanity savers -- nothing lifechanging, but I'm glad I have them.

There is an extensive list of example use cases here: https://tasker.joaoapps.com/exampleuses.html I don't find them particularly compelling but they do give you an idea of some things Tasker is capable of.

Who is Tasker for

Reasons you might want to use Tasker

  1. There is a repetitive task you perform on your phone that you wish you could automate away.
  2. You have specific visions for unusual things you want your phone to do automatically, which other apps do not address. (For example, you want to implement a very specific custom dashboard on your phone.) 
  3. You are a "Linux user type person" who enjoys implementing things for yourself.
  4. You are willing to put in time to learn Tasker's terrible user interface. 

Reasons you might not want to use Tasker

  1. You don't have an Android phone, or you can't think of phone tasks that you would want to be automated. 
  2. The stuff you want automated is closely approximated by existing apps. Or you might prefer IFTTT, another automation app. 

How to get started with Tasker

I recommend downloading the app and ignoring the tutorial. Just mess around with the "profiles" (triggers) and "actions" until you get the hang of it. Then you can start Googling how to incorporate scenes, variables, and more advanced features. 

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3 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 10:35 AM

I love Tasker, and it's probably the major thing keeping me from switching to iOS. I've never used the scenes, but here are my two major profile groups:

  1. Tap an NFC tag in the car to toggle driving mode. Brightness and volume are set to an appropriate value, earphones are disconnected (with a reminder to remove them from my ears), forced connection to car Bluetooth (it doesn't always connect if I don't use Tasker), starts a 2-hour rest timer, automatically quiets alarms when they happen (once had 15 minutes on the highway before I could stop and turn it off), log the drive, start my driving checklist app (this can be a post of its own if anyone is interested), and opens up Maps. Turning off driving mode undoes everything, reminds me to take the earphones if I had them on when I started driving, stops logging the drive, and opens up the car shutdown checklist. Feature to add: Automatically save my parking. (I don't do that yet because I add notes, especially underground.)

  2. A speaking calendar. Goes through all my calendars to figure out when the next event is, figures out which language the entry is written in, and reads it out loud when the event starts. (Most of my events are from home so there's no commute/prep time involved.) Can handle overlapping events. Feature to add: Speak when there's a reminder as well rather than just when the event starts, for when COVID is over. Bonus stuff include

  • Knowing my SO's part-time job schedule, and reminding me to send her a do your best 30 minutes before she starts, as well as a welcome back when she finishes.
  • For events between the two of us, it automatically opens up the chat app we use.
  • Adds a walk every day starting 1.5 hours before sunset. Reminds me to prepare 30 minutes before the walk starts, and announces the weather 5 minutes before, and opens the weather app.
  • Nothing opens if I'm in driving mode.

Some standalone tasks:

  • Tells me good night and opens up the chat app to tell my SO good night as well. If she has a job while I'm asleep (7-8 hours time zone difference), it lets me know, so I can send her the do your best message before I go to sleep.
  • Flipping the phone upside down mutes the ringer.
  • Controlling lights
  • Interfacing with Google Assistant
  • A bunch of other small annoyances.

Wow thanks for sharing. I might steal the NFC / walk scheduling ideas -- those sound like they could be useful. 

Long shot but you haven't happened to figure out how to get Tasker to interface with "Focus Mode" have you? That's one thing I haven't managed to get Tasker to detect yet.

I don't use focus mode for anything, though some apps are fullscreen by default.