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Putting the Galaxy to rights #8 – Tasker for a Silent Night

April 27, 2011

Vista busy cursor It was only by chance that I came across the single most powerful and useful app available for Android, namely Tasker by Lee Wilmot.  I was Googling for information about the to-do list app Taskos but the search results were littered with articles about Tasker.  No doubt Google thought Taskos was a typo.

Tasker allows you to automate your phone in a far more sophisticated, powerful and flexible way than you might have thought remotely feasible. You automate your phone’s behaviour by creating profiles.  Each profile has one or more contexts and actions, the “when” and “what” respectively of the customised behaviour. The context could be based on time or date (e.g. do something at 8am every morning), location (do something when phone comes within a given distance of a geographical location), or an event such as an incoming text message or the user waving the phone about in a particular way, etc.  The actions cover everything from changing screen brightness to reading an SMS message out loud using the phone’s speech synthesiser.

My first very simple use of Tasker was to improve on my existing solution for muting audible email, text and other notifications at night. I had been using Advanced Mode Scheduler (AMS) to mute notification sounds between midnight and eight in the morning but this had drawbacks.  AMS does not let you schedule changes to a single phone setting – you are forced to choose settings for everything and they are all applied at the scheduled times. This meant that any manual changes I might have made (e.g. turning wifi on or off) would be overridden every time the AMS scheduler was activated.

Tasker is a far more precise instrument. I created a profile called Silent Night. It has a single context defined as the time period from midnight to 8am every day.  It has two actions.  The first sets the notification sounds volume to zero and is triggered on commencement of the context, i.e. at midnight.  The second action restores the notification volume and is triggered at the termination of the context, that is at 8am. No other settings are affected.

That simple profile barely scratches the surface of what Tasker can do.  I have now created four further profiles, to be the subject of future posts. 

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