Automate your Android device with Mini Tasker
As I enter CNET's New York offices each morning, like clockwork, I silence my Galaxy S III, adjust the brightness, and turn on Wi-Fi. These actions have become so routine that I barely recognize I am doing them, but it doesn't have to be this way.
Android is a unique platform that gives users the ability to customize just about everything on their device, including being able to set up automated tasks that can be triggered by a specific action or location.
We previously told you about Tasker, a powerful automation app available on the Play store. Unlike Tasker, which costs $2.99 and can be complicated for average users, Mini Tasker is a simplified automation tool that is available for free.
Mini Tasker, which isn't affiliated with Tasker, started as a school project from Israeli college students Anton Wolkov and Michal Romano. The app is still in its infancy, with the two founders explaining that it is currently at "more of a proof-of-concept stage, to show what can be done." Even so, it still offers dozens of easy-to-use automation options, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
"We're planning to continue with the project and let it expand. We've got tons of requests already," Wolkov and Romano wrote in an e-mail to CNET. "We're also considering to open source the project to get some help from the community and add features even quicker."
While Tasker, Locale, and other similar programs are arguably more powerful (at least for the time being), Mini Tasker can be a great tool for the average Android user; the fact that it's free is an added bonus.
Wolkov and Romano are looking toward the future and have big plans for Mini Tasker, which they admit will inevitably have to be renamed.
"We might have to change the name soon, it was not our pick anyway, it was assigned to the project," the duo explained, adding that the entire experience from creating the app to receiving such positive feedback has been a little overwhelming.
One feature that we could see in the future is the ability to have your phone automatically forward a text message to your e-mail.
"These are obviously not trivial to do, but we think we proved to ourselves we can do fairly complex things pretty well," Wolkov and Romano concluded.
The question remains, what exactly is Mini Tasker and what can you do with it? No need to worry, we've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about Android newest automation app:
Getting startedMini Tasker is designed to automate different Android actions, for example if you do X, then Y will happen. The first time you open the app you will be greeted with a blank page that contains two icons, a plus symbol and a cloud icon, located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
To add a new action simply click the plus icon and choose an option from the three different sections: apps and music actions; calls, sms, and notifications actions; and battery- and screen-related actions.
There are hundreds of tasks to choose from, which we will talk about in more detail later, but Mini Tasker also includes stock tasks that can be quickly added to your device.
These include things like silencing unrecognized numbers, changing the brightness when the battery is low, and setting the phone to vibrate during late night and early morning hours, among other things.
To access these, click the cloud icon and choose the action you wish to implement.
AutomationEveryone is different and each person uses their devices for different things. I, for one, cannot live without music on my commute to and from work each day. That's the reason I use Mini Tasker to automatically launch Pandora and start playing once I plug in my headphones. I also have it set to reduce my brightness when my battery is low, in addition to silencing my phone and turning Wi-Fi on when I arrive to work each morning.
These are just a few of the things this powerful app can do.
Mini Tasker can launch and close apps, schedule a text to be sent at a later time, enable or disable system settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or brightness, and even silence calls and notifications from private numbers. The app can be set up to do these different tasks at a specific time or place, if the battery is running low, or if you perform a specific action with your phone.
Setting up automated tasks based on a specific location can be very helpful. Your phone will constantly check your coordinates, however, which could affect battery life.
Popular tasksSay you want your phone to launch a specific app when you plug in your headphones. This isn't a problem for Mini Tasker. To do this, click the plus icon and select the "Launch an App" option. Next, choose the the app you wish to launch (for me it's Pandora), scroll down, and click on Headset Connected. From here you will be given three options to choose from: a headset with a mic, without a mic, or either.
Another useful automation is to have your display dim when your battery is low. This can be done by selecting Screen Brightness, setting the desired dim level, and scrolling down to the Low Battery option.
We previously told you how iPhone owners can now block people from contacting them with iOS 7. For Android, unfortunately, it isn't as simple; but with Mini Tasker you can set up your phone to automatically silence numbers you don't recognize.
Selecting the "Silence Incoming Calls" option will give you the ability to silence specific numbers, private numbers, and calls from people not in your contacts list.
The actions you have created should now be displayed on the Mini Tasker launch page. Toggling the on/off switch on the right-hand side will allow you to quickly disable or enable the action, while a long press will give you the option to edit, share, or delete the specific task.
There is much more that Mini Tasker can do, I recommend you play with it and set it up to fit your own needs.
It is worth noting that automating GPS and in some cases Airplane mode require a rooted device. The other actions, however, can be done on all devices running Android 4.0 or higher.
Update: Mini Tasker has been renamed Condi.