One of Android’s biggest strengths as a platform is its hackability. Being open source, the operating system enables users the freedom to tweak it and customize it in any way they want, way more than any other mobile OS out there. And no app has received more praise for being the tool of choice to mould Android in any way one wants, than Tasker. By combining an insane number of triggers, actions and related parameters, Tasker has for years now let us Android geeks make our phones our own, in every sense of the word.
Let’s face it though: as powerful as Tasker may be, it is quite the devil when it comes to usability. I didn’t say Android “geeks” above in any lesser way; the learning curve with Tasker is known to be pretty high. Scores of users have picked it up like children pick candy in a candy store, and then let go of it because they found it too bitter for their taste. Heck, even we, as a blog, haven’t succeeded in going beyond a coupleposts about it!
Fed up with not being able to take full advantage of Tasker, I recently set out to find what else Google Play had to offer that came close to its power. Here are the results.
Actions Pro is a pretty new entrant in the list of Tasker wannabes, but I’ve heard about it from a few people already. The app tries to simplify the process by dividing everything into a condition and an action – kind of an “if this then that” concept. From what I can tell, the options are not many, but it seems to do what it attempts to do pretty nicely. Most importantly, it’s easy to just pick up and start using.
AutomateIt lets you automate tasks and actions on your Android phone by setting certain triggers and assigning appropriate actions to those triggers. Triggers can be any change in the state of your device, like battery level, call, headset, location, etc; Actions can be pretty much anything you can do on the device. With a neat and modern interface and plenty of options to tweak, you should be able to set pretty much anything you need to automate from within the app.
The Llama app has been around for a while now and is one of the better known apps for location-based automation. The app works with your Android’s GPS to figure out where you are and lets you change settings or perform actions based on your location. The interface is pretty minimalistic and simple, but gets the job done for the most part. If you regularly switch settings manually every time you are at home or at work (or anywhere for that matter), this one is worth checking out.
Another app that tries to take a shot at simplifying Tasker-like automation through the trigger-action approach is Chronos. The app is pretty new and doesn’t really have too many positive comments on the market, so tread carefully and try the free Lite version to see if it works on your device. The automation options are also pretty barebones, although most of the common ones are well covered.
Profile attempts to give users a one-stop-shop for changing volume levels and other settings on their Android devices from one central location. You can manually edit the details or set time-based rules so that the phone automatically makes the necessary changes at the right time. If you are like me and irritated that your phone’s media and alarm volume remains unchanged even when you silence your phone, this might be a good solution for some peace of mind.
Price: $1.99 Requires: Android 2.0 or above Google Play Link:Profile Developer:noimjosh
No matter how powerful your new Android device is, it will tend to get slower as you load apps through the day and as more and more data gets cached. If you find yourself rebooting the phone often, RFRSH can do that for you automatically. Simply set it to reboot at a given time – say every morning before you wake up – and you will have a fresh OS to play with once you do. Note that this app requires your phone to be rooted and to have a custom ROM installed.
If you have heard of Tasker before, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Locale, too. One of the better known location-based automation apps, Locale was recently updated to sport a sexy new ICS-inspired interface and performance optimization for lower battery drain. Apart from the location-aware changes which are the focus of the app, you can also use it to set actions based on other triggers like phone orientation, battery level and time.
Another one in the long list, but far one of the sleekest looking location-based automation apps is Smart Places. Using your GPS or even cell network co-ordinates, Smart Places lets you change your phone’s volume and connectivity settings. There’s even a widget to let you quickly toggle profiles on and off without launching the app, and the ability to back up and restore your settings for easy portability.
I remember when feature phones started getting the ability to create multiple profiles and switch between them. It felt empowering to quickly set your phone to change a bunch of settings with a single click. EasyProfiles brings the same customizability to Android phones, with the added ability to automatically switch between profiles you have created based on any number of criteria. It is an expensive app at over $4, but the extensive feature set may be worth it if you like the idea.
The latest addition to the Tasker wannabes club, Makros takes the same set-a-condition-then-assign-an-action route to help you automate day to day mundane changes on your Android device. However, I must say it takes a drastically different approach on the UI front. If you are a fan of the bright red, blue and green interface, you might want to check out their trial version before deciding whether this is going to be your app of choice.
There you have it – 10 solid alternatives to Tasker that won’t require you to take a certification course just to be able to set some automated tasks on your phone. Granted, most if not all of these apps come nowhere close to the power and flexibility of Tasker, but most users probably don’t even care. For most simple (and even some complex) tasks, any of these should do just fine.