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Automating Android

imageOne of the cool things about the Android platform are the number of tools available for really extensive automation.

So far, I have used the following apps:

I started out with Tasker, but jumped on Llama, as it was easier to accomplish what I wanted at the time – location-based changes on my phone and tablet.   When I upgraded to a MotoDroid, I found that the native SmartActions application was even better at handling the functions I was doing, plus some new ones I wanted to do, than Llama was.

Several software updates later, when Motorola totally borked the SmartActions application, I took a look at MacroDroid, and loved it.  I’ve used it longer than any of the others at this point.

Tasker is still a more powerful tool, but MacroDroid is easier to implement, and that counts for a lot to me.  Unfortunately, it’s not perfect.  It doesn’t really handle IF/THEN/ELSE type scenarios, making it necessary to multiple profiles/tasks in order to manage multiple outcomes.

For example, say that you want to change your volume on certain days at certain times, for certain durations?  This is easy enough to do in most any of the automation applications.  The problem is that you need to set another configuration for setting things back to normal *outside* that window.  Tasker handles this automatically, for at least some types of configurations, but many of the other tools don’t even do this.

That’s a pain as your automation needs grow.

Looking around, I found AutoMagic, and one of its biggest assets is that it is easier to implement than the others.   I can agree with that.  The flowchart UI makes it easier to see and build your configuration.

Too bad that they don’t have all the functions that some of the other tools have. If Tasker or MacroDroid or Llama adopted a flow-based interface tomorrow, they would totally own this market, because they have the power that most people need.

There needs to be a focus by the developers on streamlining choices as much as possible when making rules.  For example, if I make a rule for setting the volume, why does AutoMagic make me pick each volume type as a separate action? (Ringer, Phone Call, Notification, etc).  Really?   Same for Tasker: Select Audio Action forces me to pick silent mode, or change all the settings individually.  What about making all of them low?  (like, say, to level 1).  Sigh.

Likewise, why can’t I pick more than one trigger for a task in MacroDroid?  Or, if I want a trigger to be based upon what network I am connected to, why can’t I pick multiple SSIDs from a list?   It’s kind of annoying to have to make more than one rule to define being in a location that is determined by SSID, just because the location has more than one SSID that could be used.  (Or, for that matter, I might want to treat two different places the very same way for some reason.)  

It would be nice if it was easy to clone a task, too.

At the end of the day, I’m going to go back to Tasker.  I’ve already paid for it, so that’s better than paying for something else (again), only to have a different limitation.

These Tasker tutorials should help: http://www.pocketables.com/2013/03/overview-of-pocketables-tasker-articles.html

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 8:51 PM by Logik!

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About Logik!

Andrew S. Baker aka ASB aka Logik!

Andrew S. Baker is a business-savvy, hands-on IT leader with expertise in mentoring people, mitigating risk, and integrating technology to drive innovation and maximize business results. He creates competitive advantage for organizations through effective IT leadership: implementation of processes and controls, and architecture of robust business solutions.

Mr. Baker has successfully led a number of high-performance technology teams in designing, deploying and maintaining secure, cost-effective computing environments for well-known companies, including Warner Music Group, The Princeton Review, Bear Stearns, About.com, and Lewco Securities.

For over a decade, Andrew has exhibited thought leadership on technology and business topics via mailing lists, technical forums, blogs, and professional networking groups, along with contributions to podcasts, webinars, and over 20 technical/business magazine articles. He also serves on several boards and committees for non-profit organizations, and within the Seventh-day Adventist church.

His personal interests include Astronomy, Basketball, Bible Study, Chess, Comics, Computers, Family Life Ministries, Reading, Strategy/Role Playing games, and Professional Networking...

A summary of Andrew's current résumé is available here, and he can be reached on a variety of social and professional networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.