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Nest thermostats add compatability with third-party home automation products

Posted by wicked October - 24 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Nest privacy

It was only a matter of time before the now Google-owned Nest Learning Thermostat (and smoke detector) became even more integrated in the “Internet of things.”

Now, the device can be paired and controlled with other home automation products, including Pebble smartwatches (to check and control the temperature in your home), ivee (voice-controlled home manager) and Life360 (an app used to check the location of family and friends and can adjust the temperature when people enter and leave your home).

WallyHome, a device that checks for water leaks, is also on the list of compatible products, as is Rachio, which controls sprinklers in the house for fires. Expect more and more products to become compatible with Nest, as Google is looking for more partners to expand the capabilities of its device.

Source: Engadget

Come comment on this article: Nest thermostats add compatability with third-party home automation products

Get in the fall spirit with Google Calendar’s new seasonal wallpapers

Posted by wicked October - 24 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off


The Google Calendar app is probably one of the last places you’d expect to get some extremely attractive wallpapers, but Google’s most recent update for the application changes that. The update includes twelve very elegant backgrounds, each representing a different month, and therefore each only visible for a month at a time. Luckily these wallpapers have been extracted from the app and can be downloaded and enjoyed at anytime. Hit the break for the full gallery.


Source: AmongTech
Via: Android Authority

Come comment on this article: Get in the fall spirit with Google Calendar’s new seasonal wallpapers

Android customization – Gmail and SMS message counts on your Homescreen with Zooper Widget

Posted by wicked October - 23 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Zooper Widget Gmail SMS Count

Continuing with notification management tools in our Android customization series, we will be using Zooper Widget today to build a simple Gmail and SMS counter for your Homescreen.

Last week, we took to notification management by using Tasker to popup a simple read-only alert for all incoming notifications to your device. Today’s approach works great along side the notification popup, adding a counter of specific notification types.

Zooper Widget is capable of handling a few messaging tasks, but has made it really simple to add Gmail and SMS counters to your custom widget. We will start with these two service today, then we’ll expand on the project next time, to include any app or service you have installed on your device.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonYou will need Zooper Widget installed on your device for today’s project. Zooper Widget free will work, but again, it has limitations. You may consider dropping the $2.49 in the Google Play Store for Zooper Widget Pro if you wish to implement everything as we will in this project.

A little background before we get started: I am going to show off today’s project in several different ways, but I will only cover the new material once. You may need to head back to previous Zooper Widget tutorials to get an idea how you might handle each of the examples and what elements are available to you.

My primary Gmail widget is the basic gmail app icon, when a new message arrives, an additional image and text pops onto the screen. The other examples will include pure text, the boring old red dot counter and simply having the letter “G” popup when the time is right. Again, these are all near identical, just a touch of different code in the Advanced Parameters.

Add a Gmail message count to your Homescreen

Zooper Widget Gmail SMS Count

Set up your base widget, for my personal usage, I have the app icon as the main element in my widget, it is clickable into Gmail itself, and I was sure to leave empty space within the actual widget area for both the pop up notification and as my way to click into the Zooper Widget setup screens.

There are two elements that are to be adjusted, the little popup image or red dot and the text counter.

For this, let us use the red dot example. I would have used my actual bitmap image popup as example, but I do not have permission to share the icons I’ve used (3K SR Black icon set.)

Again, I will leave it to you to design the widget, create your dot, or image, then size and position it appropriately. Take note of the X Offset value. We did this stuff back in this Zooper Widget tutorial, if you need help.

Now, create your text element, manually change it to a value like 10 for now so you can size and position it appropriately.

Once everything is looking good from a design perspective, we’ll go into the advanced stuff, as follows:

Zooper Widget popup element when unread Gmail in inbox

You remember your X Offset value from above, right? Good. Head on into your Red Dot.

Zooper Widget Advanced Gmail Notification

Scroll to the bottom and enter Advanced Parameters.

Enter the following code:

Replace “20” with your X Offset Value.

Tap the checkmark in the top right to save and exit Advanced Parameters.

Tap the system Back button to exit back to the Module Manager.

Zooper Widget popup text count of Gmail messages

Zooper Widget Advanced Gmail Notification Text

Head into your Text element.

Scroll down a short ways and tap into Edit text manually.

Enter the following code:

$#SUG#>0?#SUG#: $

Tap the checkmark in the top right to save and exit the text editor.

Tap the system Back button to exit all the way out of Zooper Widget. That’s right, project complete.

What happened up there?

If you followed along previous Zooper Widget tutorials that worked with Advanced Parameters, including the Weather Warning system from a couple weeks back, then you might be able to guess your way through this one.

Once again, we utilized the IF statement for our string. #SUG# is the check for messages in your first Gmail account inbox. If you wish to see more options on that one, #SUG# and related live within the System section of Advanced Parameters. The only other new trick here is the blank text at the end of the Text element string – #SUG#: $ With the space ” ” after the colon, Zooper knowns to put nothing on screen.

As pseudo english, for the Red Dot we said IF Gmail message count is greater than 0 THEN position the red dot in view, ELSE position it ten thousand pixels off the screen. For the text string, IF Gmail message count is greater than 0 THEN show the message count, ELSE show nothing. I hope that made sense.

Create an SMS counter

This is going to possibly be one of the shortest step-by-step tutorials that I ever write:

Using the same steps and code as in the Gmail tutorials above, change just one small thing – use Advanced code #SUSMS# instead of Gmail’s #SUG#. That is it, the SMS counter is pretty simple, once you’ve gone through the Gmail one.

What’s next

Now that you’ve got the hang of things here, go ahead and adjust the basic code above to work for the other Zooper Widget elements that you might like to use. I showed off the letter “G” popping up on screen, I assume you might want that embedded into another widget on your screen instead of a dedicated widget. Don’t be afraid to play with it and show off what you come up with.

You may also desire to tackle notifications for other services on your device. Although there are things that can be done within Zooper Widget alone, I have never bothered trying. Instead, I find that Tasker adds that extra functionality and customization. What do you know, we will be doing just that next week.

Next Week

Custom Notification Count Zooper Widgets

Gmail and SMS are a great start, but there are plenty of other messaging services that most of use. Next week on our Android customization series, we’ll take today’s tutorial to a whole new level. Utilizing Tasker, we’ll show you how to collect notifications from any app and display a counter on your Zooper Widget. By request, this will dive into Variables – that’s you Waterdroid – for both Tasker and Zooper Widget. Bring your thinking caps, it’s going to be a big one.

That is two rather simple projects in a row, don’t worry, they both lead into the big one for next week.

Any ideas on improving this project? Please show off your creations in the comments below, we love to see what you come up with.

Tasker Popup notification Project

I am looking out the window at this very moment, it is windy and raining hard. I was able to prepare for it though because my weather warning system built using Zooper Widget in last week’s Android customization series notified me. Speaking of notifications, today we want to step up the notification game, building our own tools, like usual.

Just after Android Lollipop was announced (as Android L) at Google I/O back in June, we took a look at an app that attempted to duplicate the new floating notifications that Android L revealed. The app was called Heads Up! and is now one of many that attempted to bring to you then what Android L promised for later.

Here’s the thing, Heads Up! didn’t work very well for me. Functionally, there were no errors to speak of, I just wanted more control over the notification and didn’t care for the presentation. Most of all, once a notification faded out of the screen, that was it, gone forever. As always, I turned to Tasker to see what I could do for myself. Guess what, the results were exactly what I wanted, and so I shall share my project with you.

Even with Android Lollipop being announced just yesterday, it is still a ways out and we want something today.

Before we begin

Get it on Google Play ButtonOn your Android 4.0 or higher device, we’ll need Tasker installed for today’s project. Tasker is still $2.49 in the Google Play Store.

Custom notification tool with Tasker

This project is actually much larger than I can rightly squeeze into a single post. In all, we will look at several projects over the coming weeks. Starting today, we’ll collect notifications and display them through a pop up using Tasker itself. From there, we will look at providing a custom notification count using Zooper Widget, we will combine the two, and we may just dive into Tasker Scenes, if the selection of notification options doesn’t yet feel complete.

Tasker Task to popup a simple notification

I’ll leave it to you to head back to previous Tasker projects for a reminder on how to get Tasker up and running. Fire up a new Task, I’ll call mine “BasicNotify“, then add the following action:

Tasker Task Flash Notify

Select Alert.

Select Flash.

Tap the labels/tags icon to the right of Text.

Scroll down and choose Notification Title, or just type in %NTITLE on the Text line.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit out of the Task.

Tasker Profile to identify all incoming Notifications

Fire up your Tasker Profile, I called mine “GetAllNotifications” and add the following:

Tasker Profile Flash Notifications

Choose Event.

Choose UI.

Choose Notification.

Tap the little spaceship icon to the right of Owner Application.

In the bottom right, tap All.

Tap the system Back button to save the app selection, then tap it again to save the Profile event.

Choose your notification Task from earlier, mine was called “BasicNotify.”

Tap the system Back button when you are done to save and exit out of Tasker. Project complete.

What’s next

Now comes the waiting game, but the next time a notification comes in to your system, any notification, it will pop up in a semi-transparent, non-actionable, flash notification on your screen. It’ll hang out for a few seconds before going away. It really does not do that much, but these are the basics we need to take the project to the next level.

There are very few options to mess with on this one, but do play around with it if you desire. We will eventually dive into creating custom Scenes using Tasker, which will let you create exactly the popup that you desire. Again, feel free to poke around with Scenes, but I’ve got some better stuff on deck for you before I get there.

Bonus: How to view history of all Notifications

Typically, once a notification is swiped away or tapped, it is up to your memory to figure out what that notification said, if you even happened to see it in the first place. Did you know there is a way to view all recent notifications? Just find an empty 1×1 space on your homescreen and start the process to add a shortcut. Under Shortcuts, look for Settings Shortcuts, then simply choose Notifications. You can’t do much with the list, and it is not very informative, but I am sure you’ll find a use for it.

Next week

Custom Notification Count Zooper Widgets

As mentioned, this is just the basic starter to creating a custom notification tool that you will eventually use to make stock Android L users jealous. Don’t get me wrong, the Android L floating notification looks very cool, and will be quite functional, but that is not going to stop us from taking things to the next level in our Android customization series. Specifically, next week we’d like to look at using Zooper Widget to build an SMS and Gmail notification counter.

I know it’s pretty basic, but what do you say, is this simple little notification popup making things better for you?

Android customization – create a custom weather warning system with Zooper Widget

Posted by wicked October - 9 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Zooper Widget Weather Blizzard

Over the last few weeks our Android customization series has provided some great ideas and tricks to manage and reduce power consumption. We would like to take a little break from battery life tools this week to focus on the weather.

With it being that time of year for us northerners, leaves are beginning to turn brown and the weather is beginning to cool down. Now may be a great time prepare for bad weather days by creating a little weather warning system right on your Android device Homescreen.

Chances are, if you’re still reading this, you are interested enough in your weather that you already have a weather widget on your device. And if you’ve been following our customization series, you may even already use Zooper Widget. If this describes you, then you already have the hard part complete and ready to roll today.

Before we get started

You will need Zooper Widget installed on your Android device. The free version will get you by, but if you’ve been testing out all of these Zooper Widget projects, you may have already invested your $2.49 for Zooper Widget Pro in the Google Play Store.

Before proceeding, I will leave it to you to create your own Zooper Widget with a weather indicator. We’ve walked through this before, but you’ll likely want at least the weather scalable icon set in your widget.

Create a mini weather warning system with Zooper Widget

We’re going to try to keep it simple, all I want to do is adjust a weather icon to reflect upcoming problematic weather. Specifically, what I want is for my weather icon/indicator to turn red and/or change size if unfavorable weather is headed my way.

Zooper Widget Weather Warning

This is a modified approach to the techniques we looked at to change the color of your battery indicator based on power level from a while back. That should make this pretty easy. Let’s do this in order, from the beginning:

Create your widget.

Add a weather icon or text element with the weather.

Head to the Advanced parameters section of your weather indicator.

Now, enter only one of the following code snippets, for now. You can come back to mix and match to create your own custom super tool later:

When today’s temperature is to be below 40F, change the indicator blue:

Zooper Weather Temperature Code

When there is snow in the forecast, change the indicator red, and enlarge it:
(This assumes that your weather indicator has a default size of 30, thus a size of 60 is a major increase. You will need to identify the default size of your indicator and adjust accordingly.)

Zooper Weather Snow Code

Too easy so far? Let’s step it up – When the weather condition is going to be severe today, like a thunderstorm or snow, we’ll do something drastic, like still just changing the indicator to red.

Zooper Weather condition codes Code

What is going on here?

I best break that down a bit. #W0COND# breaks into W=weather, 0=today (alternatively, C=current, 1=tomorrow, etc) and CODE=is a weather condition code. All available condition codes can be found here but may act differently depending on your set default weather provider. I have chosen to work with Yahoo! as my provider, you may find that either Open Weather Map (which is the usual default) or works better in your area. Change that up in your default Zooper Widget settings.

Back to that string of code, you’ll see I used “&&” and “||” which indicate AND and OR, respectively. So, what we really said up there was ‘if the weather code is greater than or equal to 1 AND below 3, OR it is exactly 8, change the color.’ You’ll have to run through that list of weather codes to decide what you want to check for.

Now that that is all over, be sure to hit the check mark in the top right corner of the screen to save and exit. Then hit the system Back button to save and exit right out of Zooper Widget.

Zooper Weather Sunny

What’s next?

Please do not be discouraged if things are not quite right the first time around. You will have to play with this to see what works best for you. Myself, I tweak and modify my code almost monthly, and at the very least, adapt to the season with more controls for snow and cold during the winter and granular checks for high temps in the summer.

This project started off sounding fairly simple, but revealed some very detailed and complicated techniques, leaving you with tons of options and lots to think about. When you get the hang of what you see here, try combining the weather attributes so that you can adjust your weather icon to account for temperatures, conditions and even humidity levels and wind speeds. You can then still change colors and sizes of elements, but you could also use a dedicated warning icon or text that moves into view when the time is right.

Lastly, and we won’t get into this, don’t forget that Zooper Widget plays nice with Tasker.

Next week

As we close out a topic about notifications of one sort in our Android customization series, I’d like to start looking at notifications in general on your Android device. We’ll begin a multi-part series on handling notifications, partially inspired by what is to come from Android L, and partially inspired by apps that attempt to duplicate that Android L functionality, like HeadsUp!

What do you think about our little weather warning system – I do hope you never see it activated for severe weather, but let us know how it goes and what modifications you have done to make it better?

Android customization – save battery by managing Location services (without root)

Posted by wicked October - 2 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Location Tasker GPS

Last week on our Android customization series, we took a little detour from our regularly scheduled battery saving tips with Tasker to show off a battery management tip with Zooper Widget. Today, we continue to look at reducing battery consumption on your Android device by getting back to those Location services we had on deck for last week.

Along with the display on your device, Location services and their use specifically of your GPS antenna are easy ways to drain your battery. While we do not think that turning off Location services permanently is the best idea, there are times that it is just not needed. Let’s head back to Tasker and look at managing Location services to save you some juice.

Today we will focus on Android 4.4 KitKat. The steps below may not work on other version of Android.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonYou will need a copy of Tasker installed on your Android 4.0+ device. Tasker is $2.99 in the Google Play Store.

How should we manage Location services?

Before diving in, please take stock of your specific needs of your Location services. For today’s tutorial we will be assuming that you do not want Location services turned on at all, except if certain apps are active, like Maps or Ingress.

We have taken great care within our Android customization series to ensure that all tutorials and apps presented will work for as many of you as possible. Specifically, we have avoided root apps and tools, as we do not want you to root your phone for our behalf. To that end, you will find that today’s tutorial lacks a little finesse, this is due to the limitations of non-root devices running current generation Android. We will revisit this exact tutorial but with root abilities coming soon.

Tasker Location GPS disabled

Turn off Location services with Tasker

As mentioned, we will look at having Location services turned off by default and only turning it on when you have certain apps running. Truth is, Tasker is not able to bypass the newest security features of Android to access Location services, or even just the GPS settings. In the end, without rooting your device, all we can do is have Tasker open up Location services for us so that we can turn on or off GPS and the rest manually.

To keep this as clean and elegant as possible, we will simply fire up a notification that asks you if you want to head to Location settings and make those changes. I admit that this offers no advantage over the quick settings on most devices, but it is just a starting point to leap from.

Tasker Location GPS Notification

As with all things good in this world, it is going to take a bit of work to create our Tasker project today. We need several Tasks to pull this all together, and we’ll need to create them in a certain order, but it’s all pretty simple stuff, don’t worry.

You will need to create four Tasker Tasks in total. I’ll leave it to you to create a new Task for each, named appropriately for your needs, and I’ll show you what actions to add to each as we go. Some of the Tasks will not make sense until the end, please follow along in order.

If you are not ready to tackle Task creation on your own, head back to a previous Tasker tutorial to see how it’s done.

Tasker Task to access Location Settings

Tasker Location GPS Location Settings

I’ve called mine “OpenLocationServices.”

Of course, you’ll tap the “+” button to add the first Action to this Task.

Choose Settings.

Choose Location Settings.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit back to the Task.

Tap “+” again to add Action two.

Tasker Location GPS Status Bar

Choose Display.

Choose Status Bar.

Change the setting to Collapsed.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit all the way out of this Task.

Tasker Task to close the location reminder

Tasker Location GPS Task Wait

I’ve called mine “CloseLocationReminder.”

Tap the “+” button to add our first Action.

Choose Task.

Choose Wait.

Set a time value of about 10 seconds. This is the amount of time you will have after closing an app that the notification will remain active. You can always come back here later and change things up.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit back to the Task.

Tasker Location GPS Notify Cancel

Tap the “+” to add Action two.

Choose Alert.

Choose Notify Cancel.

In the Title section, enter “GPS” (without the quotes.)

Tap the system Back button to save and exit all the way out of this Task.

Tasker Task to clear the location notification

This one is pretty simple, and just combines two of the above Actions in a different configuration. Trust me, we need it.

I’ve called mine “ClearLocationNotification.”

Tap the “+” button to add our first Action.

Choose Alert.

Choose Notify Cancel.

In the Title section, enter “GPS” (without the quotes.)

Tap the system Back button to save and exit back to the Task.

Take a deep Breath! And continue.

Tap the “+” button to add our second Action.

Choose Display.

Choose Status Bar.

Change the setting to Collapsed.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit all the way out of this Task.

Tasker Task to create our location notification

Tasker Location GPS Alert Notify

Tap the “+” button.

Choose Alert.

Choose Notify.

Change Title to be “GPS” (without the quotes.) It is crucial that this matches exactly the term you used in the Notify Cancel actions above. You do not have to use the term GPS, but do make sure that whatever you use matches in all of the Tasks.

For Text, give yourself a quick message, as you can see, I’ve written “Turn on or off GPS?

Add an Icon. I’ve chosen the built-in icon for non-connected GPS, but there is no requirements here, whatever you want to add is fine, just keep in mind that this is the icon you will see in your Notification bar at the top of the screen.

Tasker Location GPS Notify setup

Under Actions, tap the “+” button to add a slot, then tap the Action button on the right.

Beside Name, tap the magnifying glass icon.

Choose your “OpenLocationServices” Task.

Tap the system Back button to save and go back.

Tap the Icon on the left and choose another icon, I’ve gone with the built-in GPS locked icon.

Tap on the text in the center and change it to a very short message, no more than eight characters, to signify the Action. You see I’ve put “Yes, GPS.”

We need another Action here.

Tasker Location GPS Notify Tasks

Follow the same steps starting with the “+” button to add another Action.

This time you’ll choose your “ClearGPSNotification” Task.

Assign another Icon and enter text, such as “Nope!

Tap your system Back button to save and exit all the way out of the Task.

That concludes the dirty work here folks. Now we need to put this all to good use. For that, we use a Tasker Profile. Head back to our previous Tasker tutorials if you need to brush up on Profiles.

Tasker Profile to trigger Location Services reminder

What we are going to do here is create a Profile that fires up when specified apps are open, and closes down when the apps close. More specifically, we’ll trigger the Location reminder notification when we open apps like Maps, Ingress and Camera. Hold on, did you forget that most Camera apps can use your GPS to tag your images? No worries, I’ve got some other reminders for you later.

Tasker Location GPS Profile Apps

Create your new Profile and name it appropriately, I’ve gone with “StartGPSReminder.”

Choose Application.

Run through the list and select all of the appropriate apps that you wish to let use your location services. As mentioned, Maps and camera are good starters. The Google Search app includes Google Now, so you’ll probably want that. Google+ has location services, if you want them. Street View is a separate app from maps, don’t forget that. Speedtest needs your location, as does Torque, for the car. Finally, Google’s Wallet app should be on your list, if you are an active Wallet user, of course. I’m sure you’ll have more, go ahead and choose them too.

Tap the system Back button to save your selection of apps.

Tasker Location GPS Profile Exit Task

Choose your “OpenLocationReminder” Task.

Now, long press your “OpenLocationReminder” Task and choose Add Exit Task.

Choose your “CloseLocationReminder” Task.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit Tasker.

You’ve done it! Go ahead and open one of those apps you chose above. See that, a notification popped up asking you if you want to enable or disable GPS.

From the notification, you can tap your yes or no buttons. By tapping the yes button, you will be taken to the Location Settings on your device where you can manually enable or disable Location services.

Tasker Location GPS

What’s next

As you likely already know, you can control more than just the GPS in Location settings. I will mention that many users are reporting that by simply changing to Battery Saving mode, which just turns off the GPS, the majority of battery drain is eliminated. You’ll have to play with the settings to see what works best for you.

Now, you already reminded me that this specific notification offers no advantage over the quick settings on your device. Well, I challenge you to take this project to the next level. Perhaps you would have an on-screen popup that offers these options. Perhaps you want to mess with variables and make it so that Location settings opens automatically without your input. Hint: you could utilize the IF parameter and look for GPS Status, which will equal ‘on’ or ‘off’.

If you take this project to the next level, be sure to come back here and show off your settings in the comments below.

Finally, if you are like me, this is just not good enough, you want more and better automation of the Location services on your Android device. Well, we will need to root our devices to gain this control. We may take a little while, but I guarantee that we’ll revisit this with root instructions at some point. For now, I’ll remind you that you’ll need Secure Settings installed, and there is an Xposed module to get passed that Location services agreement. Good luck.

Next week

As always, I hope you enjoyed following along our Android customization series and found value in the Tasker project you built. As compared to our previous projects, you really rocked Tasker today. I mean, the Tasks individually were easy enough, but if you can see how that all pulled together, you are well on your way to becoming a Tasker master.

It’s starting to get colder out there in the northern hemisphere, perhaps it is time we started looking at some weather warning options you can quickly put to use using Zooper Widget. We’ll show you a simple weather warning, then unleash you to make it your own.

How do you like this method of handling Location Services, can you recommend something a little easier for the non-root users out there?

Android customization: Keep tabs on your battery status with Zooper Widget

Posted by wicked September - 25 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Battery Indicator Zooper Widget

Last week on our Android customization series we took a look at how to manage your keyboard on your Android device. Then, Joe came along and shared the 15 best keyboards for Android. Obviously, we want you to embrace your customization abilities on your device.

This week, I had suggested we might start talking about managing Location settings as a means to reduce battery consumption on your device. I must change gears and save Location settings for another time. I have been asked to take a quick look at how to change colors of elements and manage other notifications through Zooper Widget.

Today, we will try to keep it simple, I will show you how to change the color of a battery indicator based on the power status of your device.

Before we get started

You will be able to follow along today with just the free version of Zooper Widget from the Google Play Store, but do keep in mind that there are limitations and you’ll need to dish out $2.49 for Zooper Widget Pro if you wish to take things to the next level.

Now that you have Zooper Widget installed, create a widget that includes a battery indicator. If you are unsure how to do this, head back to one of our previous Zooper Widget tutorials. You might start with our full guide to all things Zooper Widget, or just take a look at the clock widget that kicked off our entire Android customization series.

Dynamically changing the color of a battery indicator in Zooper Widget

Zooper Widget battery indicator color

Before we do any work, let’s look specifically at what we are doing here today. I have a Zooper Widget setup on my Homescreen that has my battery level as a number. For today, I’ve added an icon too, just for effect. Normally, the battery icon is white. From there, I want two things:

  1. When my battery level drops below 15%, make the battery icon change to the color red
  2. When I plug in the charger, I want the battery icon to turn green

Let’s get started

Head into your battery element of your Zooper Widget.

Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on Advanced Parameters.

Zooper Widget Icon Advanced Parameters

I am sure you followed along our previous Zooper Widget Advanced Parameters tutorial, so you are somewhat comfortable with what you are looking at here.

Let’s organize our logic, we want the battery indicator to be white normally, red if battery is low and green when charging. There are a few ways to create the string for your Advanced Parameter, we previously looked at using the IF statement layout, so let’s do that again.

As a refresher, the IF statement in Zooper Widget looks like this: $X=Y?Z:W$ In plain English, that is: IF this equals that, then do this, or else, do that.

We have need for two IF statements today, and we will need to nest them to get our desired results. When nesting IF statements, it is sometimes best to start from the end, let’s do that, starting with the green power indicator.

Make the battery indicator turn green when plugged in


IF Battery Status = Charging, then make icon color green, else leave it white.

Now we create the red color for when the power is below 15%.

Make the battery indicator turn red when power is low


IF battery Level is less than 15, then make the icon color red, else leave it white.

Now comes the tricky part, nesting these IF statements together. I will just give you the string, then we’ll look at what happened.

Nesting IF statements in Zooper Widget


Zooper Widget battery Advanced Parameters

You’ll notice in the screenshot that I’ve used 20% as my battery level threshold, and that I used a slightly different shade of red, at FF2222. I hope it illustrates how you can change things up as well.

Basically, what I have done here is tell Zooper that if the phone is plugged in, make it green, else, if it’s not plugged in, check to see the battery level and make it white or red as needed. The double $$ is required to signify that a nested IF statement is to be evaluated. Finally, by having the very last result set as white (FFFFFF), I was able to eliminate the duplicate [c]FFFFFF[/c] entry.

Hit the checkmark in the top right corner to save your Advanced Parameter.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit all the way to the Homescreen. Give your new widget a go.

What’s next

I am certain that was a little much to grasp the first time through, however, I want to throw a few more things at you. First, let’s look at color values, then let’s look at alternative configurations.

Throughout all of the Android customization tutorials you have worked through with us, I have represented colors in full Hex form. That is the strings of six digits with characters ranging from 0 to F. Today we used FFFFFF (white), FF0000 (red), and 00FF00 (green). For each of these, we could have used a shorthand, which would be FFF, F00, 0F0.

The art of nesting IF statements is not the most efficient nor necessarily easiest to explain after the fact. Zooper Widget takes Advanced Parameters to a whole new level with alternative string methods. We don’t have the time to look at that in detail today, so I’ll just throw an example at you:

The following string was taken straight from the archives and will make it so that your battery icon is red when your power is below 10%, yellow when your power is 10%-20% and green when your power is greater than 20%.

[c=$#BLEVN#<=10?F00$$#BLEVN#>10 && #BLEVN#<20?FF0$$#BLEVN# >= 20?0F0$]#BLEV#[/c]

Next week

We will continue to look at battery saving techniques and technologies as our Android customization series continues. We plan to revisit the Location services topic, but must warn you, recent versions of Android offer rather limited automation functionality around Location services. We have a bit of a clunky workaround, but we’ll eventually have to take root actions to get things as smooth as can be.

Any Zooper Widget users out there care to suggest a cleaner solution to changing battery indicator colors?

Source: Zooper Widget;

Android customization – save battery life and data usage with Secure Settings

Posted by wicked September - 11 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Secure Settings Tasker

Last week on our Android customization series we walked through a few simple ways to put Tasker to work on saving you some battery life. I’ll admit that turning off WiFi, Bluetooth and Background Sync only does so much for your device, so let’s dive a little deeper.

Secure Settings operates as a plugin for customization apps like Locale, Llama and, my personal favorite, Tasker. Proving that Tasker cannot do it all, Secure Settings dives into controlling some of the system settings that Tasker does not yet touch, such as controlling Mobile Data, some developer options, Airplane mode, Lock screen security settings and more.

Secure Settings breaks actions into several categories. First and foremost, you will get a good selection of options on the free version, and for a small in-app purchase, you can unlock a nice extra lot. From there, the categories are controlled by your device configuration. Rooted phones gain a great number of new tools and there are even controls specific to custom ROMs.

For today, we’ll stick with the free options.

Before we get started

Today you will need to have Tasker installed on your device, which is $2.99 in the Google Play Store. Once that is running, you will also need Secure Settings, also found in the Play Store. Secure Settings is free to install, then has a $1.50 in-app purchase to unlock the premium features that we will not be using today.

Install TaskerInstall Secure Settings

Reduce battery consumption by turning off Mobile Data

Once again, I’ve chosen an action that offers a limited amount of battery savings. However, with the additional benefit of turning off Mobile Data for those that do not have substantial data plans, this is an excellent project to show you how to use Secure Settings with Tasker.

I will leave it to you to hit earlier Android customization Tasker projects to see how to get Tasker started, find your way into the Tasks tab and start a new Task to turn off your Mobile Data.

In your Task, tap the “+” to add a new action.

Tasker Secure Settings Mobile Data Task

Choose Plugin.

Choose Secure Settings.

Tap the pencil icon to the right of Configuration.

Tap Actions to expand the list.

Choose Mobile Data.

You could choose Off, but I will be choosing Toggle for my needs. This way, I do not have to create a new Task to turn Mobile Data back on later.

Tap the Save icon in the top right.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

What to do with my Mobile Data killer Task?

Last week, I walked you through the idea of turning off features while you sleep, which is a perfect starting point for turning off Mobile Data. I also discussed setting your power sapping settings to a schedule.

If you decided to follow along last week and set your Background Sync settings to turn on for just a few minutes every couple of hours, this is where you may need to utilize another schedule for your Mobile Data. Follow along last week’s tutorial for the steps, but you’ll want to turn on Mobile Data a minute or two before you turn on Background Sync. Then, turn Mobile Data back off a couple minutes after you turn Background Sync off again.

One of the more common methods of controlling Mobile Data is to have it turn off when your device connects to your home (or work) WiFi networks. Let’s take a quick look at how that Profile is setup: (Note: this will be easiest to do when you are actually in range of your home WiFi network.)

Open up Tasker and head to the Profiles tab.

Tasker Secure Settings Mobile Data Profile

Tap the “+” to create a new Profile and give it a unique and concise name, I’ll call mine “HomeWiFi.”

Choose State.

Choose Net.

Choose WiFi Connected (or WiFi Near.)

Tap the magnifying glass icon to the right of SSID, then choose your home network. Alternatively, you may simply type in the name of your home, or work, WiFi network.

Tap your system Back button to save and exit.

Choose your “Kill/ToggleMobileData” Task, or whatever you had named it.

If you used the “Off” setting in your Secure Settings configuration, be sure to now add an Exit Task to your Profile that turns Mobile Data back on when you disconnect from your chosen WiFi network. If you used the Toggle option, just play with things and add the same Task as an Exit Task only if needed.

What’s next

Secure Settings Tasker Plugin optionsEvery device and network is a little bit different. Please be sure to spend some time with your configuration and see what works best for your battery life. You may find that your WiFi kills your battery at twice the pace as your mobile connection, in which case, today’s tutorial wouldn’t serve you all that well.

Once again, we’ve only covered a single, and simple, aspect of battery usage reduction. Be sure to play with all of these tools in Tasker and explore for more to optimize your device. Also, stay tuned, battery saving techniques are important to us, we’ll have more for you in the future, specifically, we only scratched the surface of the Secure Settings plugin, we plan to dive into the premium and root features down the road.

Next week

We have been doing so much typing on our Android devices lately, let’s take a look at keyboards. If you are using the Google Keyboard, check in next week on our Android customization series as we dive into the keyboard settings. Maybe you dislike haptic feedback, don’t want the keyboard to beep on every key press, or maybe you just don’t like the newer white color and want some blue back in your life, we’ll hook you up.

How do you manage your Mobile Data needs on your device?

Via: Android customization;

Android customization – Three battery saving tips using Tasker

Posted by wicked September - 4 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Tasker Battery Tips

So far in our Android customization series we have used tools to build designs and control your device with a reckless disregard for your battery life, we better do something about that. While battery life is an important topic for most Android users, it is very involved and will require that we look at it from a few different angles.

Over the years, we’ve shown off our best tips and tricks to manage your power consumption, today we will walk through putting some of those ideas to work using Tasker.

We will look at three aspects of your device today: WiFi, Bluetooth and Background Sync.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonTo follow along today you will need to install Tasker, it is $2.99 in the Google Play Store.

Reduce battery consumption by turning off WiFi

Most of us step outside the house during our normal day, even if only to run to work or school, it is times like these that WiFi is probably not required. Unfortunately, Android is designed such that if WiFi is enabled, the device will scan for available WiFi networks, this can be brutal on battery life, so we best just turn off WiFi when we head out our front door.

If you followed along a while back, we actually already built a Tasker project to toggle on and off WiFi on your device. At that time, we used an element within a Zooper Widget to trigger the action.

If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with Tasker, follow along the Zooper Widget tutorial to build your Task. For those that know what they are doing, the Task is simple:

Net -> WiFi -> Off.

Reduce battery consumption by turning off Bluetooth

With the explosion of Bluetooth connected smartwatches out there these days, you may never want to turn off your Bluetooth, but if you do not have Android Wear on your wrist, chances are you only use Bluetooth for specific tasks. If you are like me, you don’t mind manually turning on Bluetooth as needed, but you always forget to turn it back off. Tasker to the rescue.

Head into the Tasks tab of Tasker and start a new Task.

Tasker Bluetooth

Name it uniquely and concisely, I’ll call mine “KillBlue“.

Tap the “+” button to add a new action.

Choose Net.

Choose Bluetooth.

You can leave the settings as they are, Set as Off, and hit the system Back button to save and exit.

Reduce battery consumption by turning off Background Sync

It is extremely convenient that our Android devices are always connected, always checking for new emails and social media notifications and so much more, but this takes its toll on your battery. If you know you will not be checking messages for a time and want to save some juice, we can just turn off background sync.

You can always handle this manually through your system settings, but we like to automate with Tasker.

Tasker Background Sync

Create a new Task and name it uniquely and concisely, I’ll call mine “NoSyncing“.

Tap the “+” button to add a new action.

Choose Net.

Choose Auto-Sync.

Leave it Set to Off and hit the system Back button to save and exit.

When do we use these Tasks?

The true power of this project is deciding when to trigger these Tasks. For each of us, the answer will differ, some of us can kill WiFi and fire up Bluetooth when we connect to the dock in our car, some of us will use Location services to decide, and for many, today’s actions can be controlled based on the time of day. Let’s look at what a time based Profile might look like.

Turn off WiFi while you are sleeping

Don’t forget that we’ve already created a Sleep and Silent mode using Tasker, feel free to reference that for better instruction.

Navigate to the Profiles tab in Tasker and start a new Profile.

Choose Time and set your typical sleep hours. Perhaps you would like to set it for an hour or two after you normally go to sleep and an hour or two before you wake up, this way you do not miss anything, but your device still gets a few hours of down time.

Hit the system Back button to confirm and exit.

Choose your “WiFiOff” Task.

If you find that WiFi does not turn back on when the Profile finishes, create a new Task that turns WiFi back on and set it in the Profile’s Exit Task. We covered Exit Tasks here.

Using this same concept, you can create more Profiles to cover other times of your day. You could set WiFi to turn off during working hours, if you don’t have WiFi at the office, or whatever suits your needs.

Set Background Sync to a schedule

One of the best ways to control Background Sync is to put it on a schedule.

Tasker Background Sync Schedule profile

Create a new Profile in Tasker and again choose the Time option.

When choosing your time, turn off From and Until, instead activate Repeat and set it to, say, 2 Hours.

Tap the system Back button to confirm and exit.

Choose your “NoSyncing” Task.

To make this work properly, we will need to modify our “NoSyncing” Task to have four actions. And we get to learn about IF conditional statements.

Action 1: Tap the “+” button to create a new action, choose Task, then choose Stop.

Tap the “+” beside If.

Tap the little label icon and scroll down the list to find and tap on WiFi Status.

Tap the ~ and choose Doesn’t Equal.

In the last field, type “on“, without the quotes.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Tasker Stop action IF statement

Action 2: Create an action that turns Background Sync on.

Net -> Auto-Sync -> Set On

Action 3: We must pause for a few minutes to let the Background Sync do its thing.

Tap the “+” button to create a new action, choose Task, then choose Wait.

Set a time value, I’ve gone with 5 minutes, which should be enough time for everything to sync. Tap the system Back button to confirm and exit.

Action 4: Turn Background Sync back off. You should already have this action in your “NoSyncing” Task, you can re-arrange the actions by tapping and dragging from the far right edge in the list.

Tasker Background Sync Schedule Task

As I am sure you see now, every two hours your system will try to check for messages. With the Stop action in place, Background Sync will only be activated if WiFi is turned on, otherwise it simply exits the Task and waits for next time.

What’s Next

I feel bad that today’s items only just scratched the surface of all of things that can be done to reduce battery consumption. Rest assured I will have more ideas, tools, tips and tricks coming, some will involve Tasker, but not all, and we will dive into some of the extras one can do with a rooted device.

Please spend some time and play with your WiFi, Bluetooth and Background Syncing needs in Tasker; as mentioned, you can turn each of these on and off based on location, time, availability of specific WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices and so much more. A quick word of warning, however, using location services, especially GPS, can sometimes actually use more power than you are trying to save.

Next week

We will continue with battery saving techniques next week on our Android customization series, perhaps we will take a look at those location services I just mentioned. With recent changes to the Android operating system itself, Tasker needs a little boost to be able to turn on and off GPS directly, we’ll take a look at how that works.

How do you like to manage your WiFi, Bluetooth and Background Sync settings?

Android customization – Screen Filter, dim your display to see in the dark

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Screen Filter display dimmer

Sometimes, the pleasures of Android customization require that we put to use small, single purpose apps to get the job done right. One such app is called Screen Filter, who’s single purpose is to dim your display well beyond the lowest brightness setting on your device.

As we go through our day, we often find ourselves with varying amounts of lighting to contend with, be it blaring direct sunlight or the dark of night. While I believe it is generally safe to rely on the default device options or creating your own profiles using apps like Lux or Tasker to adequately increase your display brightness, few devices, on the other hand, do a great job of handling low light situations.

When the only light in the room is the gentle glow of all of your power adapters, even the lowest brightness setting on most Android devices feels a little like staring at the Sun. Since this searing pain is not enough to stop us from using our devices, why don’t we take a look at how to use Screen Filter to tone things down a bit.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonScreen Filter is a free app in the Google Play Store. If you like the app and wish to offer up a donation to the developer, in a unique approach, the developer asks that you instead make a donation to Wikipedia.

Great news, Screen Filter is also controllable as a Tasker plugin. This is just extra functionality which I will only briefly show off here today, but you’ll need to drop $2.99 on Tasker in the Google Play Store if you want to play along that part.

Using Screen Filter to dim your display

As mentioned, Screen Filter is made only to dim your display, which it does by placing a semi transparent black screen over top of your existing content. This is not a hardware related solution, and should not provide any battery saving benefits, but at least it let’s you use your device at night.

Warning: Screen Filter can be used to completely black out your display. Please be careful how you use it, as you may be required to pull the battery on your device to recover. On the bright side (no pun intended,) Screen Filter should be your first notification in your Notification bar, you may be able to blindly swipe and tap that to deactivate without having to restart the device.

Screen Filter can be used in three different ways. First, you can go into your apps and choose it from there. Second, and most common, you can set pre-configured widgets on your Homescreens. Last, my personal favorite, Screen Filter can be controlled and configured through Tasker. Let’s look at how to work these three options.

Activate Screen Filter from the app drawer

This is pretty simple, open your app drawer by tapping the “all apps” button usually located just above the Home button on your device. Scroll through to find the Screen Filter icon and tap to activate.

Screen Filter App toggle

Screen Filter will activate at a default value, somewhat out of your control, and remain there until you tap the app icon once again to turn it off. If you like this filter level, feel free to put a shortcut to the app on your Homescreen for easy access.

If the value is not good for you, you can pull down the Notification bar and tap the Screen Filter notification to enter the settings screen. Slide the scroll bar to the desired value and tap the system back button to save and exit.

Setup a Screen Filter widget

Likely the most common use of Screen Filter is through the Homescreen widget. This is very simple as well, drop the widget onto your Homescreen and you will be presented a settings page.

Screen Filter Widget

Slide the scroll bar until you reach an appropriate filter level.

Tap Save.

You can do this multiple times, setting different values for each widget.

To toggle Screen Filter off and on, simply tap the widget.

Setup Screen Filter in Tasker

Now for my favorite. If you are an avid Tasker user, I just need mention that Screen Filter is a Plugin for Tasker. If you are not an avid Tasker user, no worries, we’re just going to create an action within a Task that activates Screen Filter.

I will leave it to you to follow along previous tutorials to create a Profile in Tasker for this project and to create your Task within Tasker to get started. From there you’ll add a new action.

Screen Filter Tasker Task action

Choose Plugin.

Choose Screen Filter.

Tap the pencil next to Configure.

Slide the scroll bar to the desired value.

Tap Save.

Tap the system back button to save and exit.

What’s next

Let’s quickly talk about the Screen Filter notification that pops up when the app is activate. When you start Screen Filter from the app drawer, tapping the notification will both deactivate the display dimming and take you to the settings screen. When you activate Screen Filter from a widget or through Tasker, tapping the notification will only deactivate the filter.

Did someone say Tasker? Why of course I did, and now you may be wondering how and when you might activate Screen Filter. Let me give you just two ideas:

First, Screen Filter is great at night, obviously. If you’ve been following along my Tasker tutorials in our Android customization series, you already know how to create a night time mode for your device. If your night mode appropriately coincides with lights out in your home, it would be a simple thing to add Screen Filter to your sleepy time Task in Tasker, thus dimming your display along with muting the ringer and more.

Second thought, perhaps you looked into using Tasker with Trigger when I covered it a few weeks back. If you’ve got a spare NFC tag kicking around, why not program it to fire up Screen Filter? A sticker style NFC tag placed close to the bed makes it super simple to quickly tap to dim your display.

Prevent device reboots: I warned you above that Screen Filter can be set to a value that completely blacks out your display, often requiring a reboot to recover. I pose to you that an NFC tag made to toggle on and off Screen Filter would serve as a backup recovery plan in the event of a blackout.

Screen Filter Enabled 13percent

Next Week

Starting next week on our Android customization series we will begin to look at some battery saving tools, tips and tricks. If you are so inclined, you may want to start tracking your battery life, so you have a baseline to compare to after we make some tweaks. We don’t want to go too crazy here, maybe just snap a screenshot of your Battery stats at the end of each day and we can compare them later.

Respecting that apps like Lux offer a full featured display brightness solution with some awesome configurations and color filters, how do you feel Screen Filter stacks up for your needs?