Tasker advanced use

I love Tasker. And I say it a lot. I say it so much that my keyboard's prediction now pops up Tasker after I type the word love. And Tasker can do a lot. A whole lot. But in order to do it, it needs to be programmed or you need to stick a button on your home screen, or a gesture control. I covered voice controls last time, and today, rather than using them for media controls, we'll be using them for something far more helpful: squeezing more battery out of your phone. I was also contacted by the wonderful wizard of Tasker plugins, João Dias, and he gave me a more targeted manner of playing media using his AutoShare plugin, which I'll share later in the article.

Voice control your radios

Various Tasker tasks waiting for a voice command

Now, there's a lot of things we wish Google Now could do. Media controls, turning off our phones, purchasing new devices for us so we don't get stuck on the backorder list, and on and on. Well, we might not be able to fix all of these shortcomings with Tasker, but we can at least do a few things!

Bluetooth on task. Short and simple.

Now, as before, we're going to create short tasks for each of the actions we want to take. For my example, I'll be turning on and off Bluetooth using Google Now, so I have two one-action tasks that perform as such.

Bluetooth on profile

Next, we're going to set up our voice command profiles. These profiles will use the AutoVoice Recognized context, just as before, however this time we're going to be a little more careful with our voice commands as these will be closely related. For the first profile, we'll use the trigger 'Bluetooth on', making sure the 'include all' function is checked in the context configuration. We'll choose the corresponding task. Before we make the Bluetooth Off profile, we're going to test the Bluetooth On command.

Remember to get your settings right!

If you didn't follow the AutoVoice setup covered last week, now is the time. Don't worry, we'll wait …

We good? Good.

google Now intercept in action

Once we're sure that our command works, we can expand. We can add the bluetooth off profile to the party, and then we can add other settings. More importantly, you can stack them. 'Turn Bluetooth and Wifi on' will trigger both radios - and as a sidenote, even though we usually write it Wi-Fi, in Tasker and Google Now, the command reads as wifi, so take out the hyphen in the Command filter. However, you will need to give two separate cues if you want to turn off Wifi and turn on mobile data, as saying off and on in the same command will trigger everything and just confuse your phone.

Perfect day to be at sea!

You other option is to make more detailed task/profiles. My Driving profile may be triggered by Moto Assist (more on that in a minute), but the exit task for Driving is triggered not by Moto Assist but by voice or by a gesture control of my home screen. I also made it something more conversational, something I can change up because so long as the trigger is in there in some way, it will be recognized and acted on. The cue I picked was 'perfect day', so I can say…

+It's shaping up to be a perfect day. +This day has been far from perfect. +This day is gonna be long, hard, and unrewarding. Perfect. +Perfect day to be at sea!

And it will still trigger regardless of the variation I chose. Bless the 'include all' option in AutoVoice.

Notifications aren't just for Google Now anymore

Yes, I have a lot of notifications, I know.

Now, I mentioned that my Driving profile was triggered by Moto Assist. There are several ways to skin this particular cat if you don't have a Moto X with the optimized state detection of Motorola Contextual Services, but I do, and since I do, it lets me show off another plugin that can do a nifty little thing.

Takser (and Tasker's developer) can't do everything on their own.

Acting based on a notification used to be something that Tasker could do out of the box. It actually still has a native Notification event context, however as more and more apps have moved to the notifications API introduced in Android 4.3, they no longer work with it. Since AutoNotification can intercept notifications using the new API, Tasker's developer has chosen to let users rely on João Dias and this plugin rather than waste time fixing the native notifications context. And I don't blame him because there is always a lot to be done with this app, especially as we'll be reaching a new version of Android, a new design guideline, and most importantly a truckload of new APIs to sift through and potentially add to the app.

Driving means cutting the data/notifications and cranking the tunes.

My Driving mode, to be triggered by Moto Assist's Driving mode, is straightforward enough. I want to turn off Wi-Fi and Auto-Sync, turn on Bluetooth (if it's not already on), and then put on my music. The pop-up is there to alert me that it has indeed triggered, since this is now a profile that can trigger without any personal input from me.

AutoNotification configuration

Now, we make our profile. AutoNotification Intercept is a state context, and we can then configure it to respond ONLY to the Driving notification from Moto Assist. The action type here will be created, as the notification is created when Driving mode is enabled and the notification is cancelled when we park. The Notification app is Assist, and so it only responds to that, I select the 'Exact' option. The package and text sections are of no use to the Driving notification we're intercepting, but for apps with more detailed notifications, such as Gmail, they can come in handy. We do, however, need the Notification Title section, so it doesn't trigger when the phone enters or exits any Assist mode. We'll enter 'Driving' in the Notification Title filter and once again select 'Exact'.

Task options in a profile

Upon configuring our context, it's time to choose our task, and once we select our Driving task, we have one last thing we need to do. See, even though the AutoNotification Intercept is listed as a state context, it performs like an Even context, which means that we need to long-press our linked task and select 'move to exit task', otherwise the Driving task will trigger for about three seconds and then shut itself back off.

AutoShare: An quicker way to play your music.

AutoShare honestly deserves its own post, preferably from someone who didn't install it a week ago, but for now I can tell you that while it requires a little more getting used to than most Tasker plugins, AutoShare is also an incredibly simple plugin because you download the intents you want to use rather than crafting them yourself. And while, yes, the way I mentioned in previous articles doesn't require spending another buck-thirty on another plugin, it also isn't as exact and requires opening the app you wish to control, thus taking you away from whatever app you were using at the time.

Besides, there's slightly more you can do here than just hit play.

The AutoShare Intent button in Chrome

This is a collection of AutoShare intents. Adding them to AutoShare after you install the plugin is as easy as tapping the intent in question. You'll be getting two for each media command: one down key and one up key. You send the down key command immediately followed by the up key command for media controls (and only for media controls).

Two by two, we march to victory, armed with the greatest app in history!

Once we have our intents, it's time to build the task with them. Thankfully, using media keys brings a pop-up reminding you how to use it, so you'll have that to fall back on. We'll begin with our down key intent. We first set our app. Rather than AutoShare, the default, we will be using Media. After that, we select our intent: Press Play Key Down.

Some of the many media apps AutoShare can interface with. Your mileage may vary.

After that, we hit advanced and select our desired app from 'Find Compatible apps', in my case Google Play. Rinse, wash, repeat with a second AutoShare action for the up key. Hit play on the task, if that works, automate using any method you'd like.

Android only

When you ask people why they chose Android over Apple, you'll hear a lot of different things. They wanted a more open ecosystem, they wanted a bigger screen, they wanted more choice, and so on. Tasker is the only app that I have heard someone state as their top reason for using Android, and it's not all that surprising considering that Tasker kinda encapsulates the spirit of Android.

Tasker is Android app-sonified.

It's a massive app that can do just about anything under the sun, but because it's not quite as intuitive as it looks, people shy away from it and go to what's easy instead. It's a relatively open app that allows many, many people to create and sell plugins in order to help Tasker do more for its users. It has some things that its needed to take care of for years, but its users don't mind because its focused on bringing us bigger and better things first, and the plugin developers have us covered in the meantime. And while it's looking to bring new functionality to brand-new devices with brand-new features to integrate, it also understands and values older devices, giving attention to users running legacy versions of Android.

So, what breathtaking things do you want to do next with Tasker? Because there's a lot more here to see, and we'll be bringing as much as we can to you.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

  • It's programs like this that really make android the only platform for me. Posted via Android Central App
  • Me2!
  • Good point and why I switched phone platforms. Posted via Android Central App
  • Tasker really is a great app and it is one of the main reasons that I stick to Android. Being able to automate so many things and create new features is incredible. I use a lot of those "auto" plugins from that same dev but I definitely recommend the tried and true secure settings plug in. With root you are able to change a ton of settings including location, turning on airplane mode, even the advanced wifi settings. It takes a lot of work to get your phone set up exactly how you want it but once you do it makes it a very enjoyable experience.
  • I've mentioned Secure Settings once, but you won't see me cover it in depth because it's mostly a plugin for rooted phones. And while the ratio of rooted users may be higher here than it is overall, it's not the norm and I'd rather focus on things people can do with Tasker without rooting their device, because it can still do a lot without it.
  • I still haven't found anything I wanna automate on tasker besides turning on/off WiFi and vibrate.
    Also what app are you using to tell you the battery temp? I like informer but whatever that is looks nicer
  • It's Battery Widget Reborn. I love it, the expandable notification on it includes a tray of quick toggles that you can customize to a degree. This is where the flashlight on my phone hides.
  • Thanks! I'm going to try that out
  • I tried using Tasker, but I really didn't see the point in it, and I don't have the patience to learn how to use an app with such a terrible UI. It's easier for me to have NFC tags in places to do the same stuff you described in the article. Posted via Android Central App on the Moto X
  • It's not a terrible UI (hasn't been for a few years), it's just a terribly high learning curve. I wish I had NFC tags for everything right now, but I don't so I use voice and gesture commands to my advantage instead. If you wanted pointers, please see the Tasker review and the intro articles I penned last month.
  • Where can I find tasker pointers from last month you posted ara ?
  • http://www.androidcentral.com/app/tasker
  • If only that was a hyperlink in the Android Central app... Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)
  • I'd argue Tasker makes NFC tags way more useful anyway, since it allows you to go way beyond the relatively simple automated tasks most NFC script/tag reading apps do.
  • Try Automate, it has a UI that's a lot more intuitive, just add block and connect the dots. And it's just as powerful as Tasker.
  • Can the battery be replaced in the new moto x? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Wrong article, wrong person to ask since I don't have one (though I really, really, want one), and no, it's a Moto, none of them have had removable batteries in a year.
  • The phone looked like a Moto that's why I asked Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is a first-gen Moto X. That said, there is an entire forum and a specific thread devoted to answering new Moto X questions.
  • I've been wondering if it's possible to automate playback of a specific playlist/track... Right now I've gone the lazy route, setting it to autoplay one app when I get in my car and using a different one in general to basically never disturb the first one off my driving playlist. Surely there's a more elegant way, just haven't taken the time to dive in and investigate. It'd be amusing to have it play a Jarvis sound bite every time I get in the car, followed by my driving music playlist.
  • I'd love to find a way to get it to play a specific Google Play radio station. Sadly, the information I've researched so far indicates that this can't be controlled.
  • AutoShare intents allow you to search and play in one command, so technically you can start a radio station based on an artist or song and begin playing them.
  • A tutorial on this would be awesome. Are you saying I could start playing a radio station I already have? Or would it be a new one each time? As far as I can tell, the search in Google Play Music only searches artists, albums, and playlists. How do you see this working?
  • I'm not as familiar with it, but I'll reach out to the plugin dev for you and see what he says, right now, It pulls up the radio station for a specific song/artist. So you could have a specific task for a particular radio station and trigger it via voice/gesture/whatever. If you put nothing in the query it starts 'I'm feeling lucky' radio.
  • Insert a read text action before you hit play.
  • Ara: Great article! I've long been envious of the capabilities that are inherent in Tasker (and I recommend the app to many who would like to automate actions!) but I've been shy about using it myself. Do you see any added battery drain from using Tasker?
  • Tasker is really light on system recources, and actually, tasker (if used to do so) can INCREASE your battery life!
  • Tasker has never, ever showed up in my battery metrics for being a battery hog. Then again, I also don't utilize many of the native sensor monitors that Tasker has, instead piggy-backing off the more energy-efficient sensor monitoring and modes from Moto Assist.
  • I use it to read me my text messages and missed calls through my Ubi when I am at home.
  • Tasker is great, but after reading the above, it's a reason it doesn't catch on for the masses -> I've created several Tasker profiles and tasks, but the above makes my head swim. Someone needs to find a way to package up Tasker profiles/tasks so it's easy breezy import that's ready to go.
  • Technically, you can import profiles and tasks and run them (assuming there are not differences between your device and someone else's. There is also Tasker App Factory which can export tasks as standalone apps. That said, a little learning and brain teasing never hurt nobody, either.
  • Agreed. It isn't for the faint of heart (me?)!
  • I've never checked Tasker out. Looks very similar to the profile settings on my OnePlus One.......which I have not checked out, too. Dang! LOL. Posted via the Android Central App with my OnePlus One.
  • I couldn't figure out Tasker to save my life Posted via the Android Central App
  • Tasker is the most robust app for automating things--I'd really like to familiarize myself with it more. Right now, I use Llama Location Profiles, though, as the UI is easier to understand and use.
  • Mee Posted via Android Central App
  • I really want to use it well, but I just can't get creative. Posted via Android Central App
  • I have this app but is doesnt work properly on my moto x. Does the phone have to be rooted for the features to work? I know somethings require root access but my wifi/ lock screen turnoff wont work nearly at all
  • Is there a way I can use voice commands to play my music and playlists in rocket player? One thing I really missed from ios, I just has to press a button in my car and tell what playlist I want. Now I have to make sure the playlist I want is selected before I drive off.
    Also, if I get a nfc tag and put it in my car, can I set it to turn Bluetooth on? Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Also can I set my phone to turn flashlight on if screen is off and I hold in volume button? I can draw a v and it is suppose to do it but It is hit and miss on my 1+1 Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Thanks for this great article. I discovered autovoice and autoshare just two weeks ago myself and it's amazing. Now I only need a new phone, as the HTC One X is to weak and sucks, but I can't wait to give it a shot in combination with the new Moto X google now always on!
  • Ara, Thanks for this...I'm late, but I recently installed tasker and haven't had time to figure it out. But now I have something to get me going.
  • I ve been in a hunt for a profile which is almost looks and do similar task as the ultra power savng mode does in HTC one..Allowwing only the basic apps like phone ,msging and others (if needed) to run....But dint find anything like that so far..
    Is anybody here using such one?..if yes,can u guys guide me on how?...
  • I would put an app like Xposed right up there with Tasker. Another great reason to have Android.
  • Great article, and series Ara. The answer to everyone's "can tasker..." question is yes. "How?" is the more important question. It's not an easy app, and the learning curve can be steep. Two invaluable links: http://tasker.wikidot.com/profile-index
    http://tasker.dinglisch.net/ Also... Youtube.
  • Great Article!!!
    Just set up the voice stuff to launch PowerAmp, turn bluetooth on/off.
    More to come. This is way cool!!!!!
  • I have the "auto" apps and they make a lot of the things easier than if you had to do them with tasker alone. Some of my favorite profiles are. 1) I say "Take me home, drive home, or navigate home" and it will turn on my GPS, use autoshortcut to open Google Maps, and start navigating to my home. 2) Use autovoice to open any app (much faster than waiting for google now to do it) 3) Use autovoice to say, "Netflix play (movie) and it opens the app, searches for the movie, and presses play. 4) With autovoice and autocontacts i can tell my phone to call anyone in my contact list and text or email them a message without ever picking up the phone. Some of these things need root but with tasker your imagination and/or your willingness to learn and research is the only limitation. I seen where someone said they had a HTC one and they needed more power to use tasker. I have not used the One but I still use an old Samsung GS2 and I have no problems with it.
  • Also thank you for these articles! I look forward to more.
  • I'm sorry but the intro paragraph led me to believe the article would cover 'squeezing more battery out of you're phone.' That is the article I'm interested in!
  • There are a many reasons I'm sticking to Android, Tasker (and especially autovoice) is a big one of them
  • I am an android fan. I am trying to use tasker. I followed a Youtube video on setting up my phone to cast videos and photos from the gallery. This presented a problem. I do not have the autoshare command option in tasker to complete the setup. PLEASE HELP. Can someone instruct me on how to get the autoshare command option?