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Tasker Task Days To Christmas Widget

I hope you’ve found some use out of last week’s Android customization post, certainly, being able to fall to sleep to your favorite music is a great thing. This week we give in, just a little bit, to the urges of the season. That is, with many of you reading this while resting off a Thanksgiving day meal, it is time to start thinking about Christmas.

Perhaps Christmas is not your thing. Please do not get caught up on this part of the process, you can use this project for any day you desire. What we wish to look at today is utilizing voice input and some tricky variable management in Tasker.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonYou will require Tasker to follow along today. Tasker will run you $2.99 from the Google Play Store. For best results, I recommend using an Android 4.0+ device, and please keep in mind that some Samsung devices with S-voice do not play well with Tasker’s Voice input and text-to-speech output.

Now would also be a good time to track down an appropriate image to be used as your icon for the project. To keep it simple, here, take this one I slapped together using the Androidify app.

Androidify Christmas Lollipop

Before we go diving in, this is a rather involved project that focuses on two new concepts we’ve not touched before, and expands on another that we’ve only used in its simplest form. The project itself looks to take your voice command as an input, act on your question and by converting and comparing variables, then output an answer to your question through your device’s text-to-speech feature.

Without the technical explanation, we will be asking our Android device “how many days until Christmas?” and it will answer us out loud. Let’s get started.

How to collect voice input through Tasker

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

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

Tasker Task Voice input

Choose Input.

Choose Get Voice.

You do not need to do anything here, but I find that adding a Title enhances the experience. I’ve added in “Say: how many days until Christmas.” Then hit the system Back button to save and exit.

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

Tasker Task Voice to Variable

Choose Variables.

Choose Variable Set.

We want to create a local variable that will take the collected voice input for evaluation.

In the Name section, enter a variable name starting with the percentage sign followed by lowercase letters, I’ve called mine “%voiceinputx“.

In the To section, enter the collected voice input by typing “%VOICE“, without the “‘s, of course. You could have also tapped the labels icon and scrolled through the list to find %VOICE.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Now that we have collected your voice input and saved it into a variable, lets act upon it. First things first, we evaluate the input and exit the Task if something doesn’t look, or sound, right.

Evaluate the voice input and terminate the Task if anything sounds wrong

Tap the “+” button to add your next action.

Tasker Task variable match Alert Flash Voice

Choose Alert.

Choose Flash.

Under Text, write yourself a quick message that will display if your voice input is not adequate to proceed. I simply put “Sorry, I don’t understand %voiceinputx, please try again and repeat the phrase exactly.

Now, most important, hit the “+symbol to the right of IF.

In the first text field, enter your voice input variable name, mine was “%voiceinputx“.

Tap the “~” button and choose Doesn’t Match, which will change the button to “!~”.

In the second text field, enter the exact phrase that you want used to trigger your project. I have entered “how many days until Christmas“.

It is important to note that this is a case sensitive comparison. Most of us will want all of the words to be lowercase, but capitalizing “Christmas” should still work. You may need to play with this, luckily, our flash alert will display what text it has collected if you’ve entered the variable in the Text above.

Tasker Task Alert Flash Error Message - Edited

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Now, if the above phrase didn’t match, we want to outright halt the Task.

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

Tasker Task variable match Stop

Choose Task.

Choose Stop.

Tap the “+symbol beside If and repeat the input as in the above Flash Alert action. This way, if our text collected does not match the text expected, the command Stop will terminate everything that is to come.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Having collected voice input and used it to evaluate whether or not to proceed with the task, we will actually no longer need it today. From here, we just want to work with variables, then respond with our answer. We have some crazy work to do with those variables, so hang on. If you find that you are struggling to understand what exactly is happening, please just follow along, I suspect you’ll find that it is easier to understand this project when everything is in place at the end.

Here is what we are going to need to do. We will need to set a variable and tell it when Christmas is. Create another variable with today’s date. Compare the two. Finally, add that value into a text-to-speech string. That almost made this sound easy, let’s do it.

Create and compare Tasker date variables

We are going to be using the same basic procedures a few times over here, so, for further reference, to create a variable, tap the “+” button to add a new action, choose Variables, then choose Variable Set.

Tasker Task Variable Set

Your first variable will be for your actual target date. In this case, Christmas.

Tasker Task Variable xmasday

Variable Name will be something like “%XMASDAY“. Note that I made it all capital letters, so that I can use this variable in other projects.

Variable To will be the date, “12-25-2014“, or whatever date you wish to work with.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Create the next variable, for today.

Tasker Task Variable today

Variable Name something like “%today“. Note that this is all lowercase characters, I won’t need this variable for other projects, so I keep it local so that it deletes out of RAM when the Task is complete.

Variable To should collect the current date, which is available as a built-in variable, “%DATE“.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Now we need to compare the two variables. The problem we face is that Tasker cannot do a mathematical calculation on dates, so we will need to convert the values to something that Tasker can work with, seconds.

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

Tasker Task Variable Convert xmas

Select Variables.

Select Variable Convert.

Variable Name will be your Christmas day variable, I had called mine “%XMASDAY“.

Under Function, select Date Time to Seconds.

Under Store Result In, create a new local variable, I’ll call mine “%xmassec“.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Tasker Task Variable Convert today

Now, repeat the steps for your today variable. That is, choose Variable then Variable Convert, Variable Name “%today“, Function Date Time to Seconds and Store Result In “%todaysec“. Finish up by tapping the system Back button.

Do math on variables

From here, we need to identify how many seconds difference between the two dates, then turn that into a manageable value. For each step below, we will just create a new variable for each action, I think that will help you understand the process a little easier. In a perfect world, we would just change the value of the existing variables. More on that another time.

Tap the “+” button to add another action. This will be another Variable Set action.

Tasker Task Variable Do Math to sec

Variable Name%secstoxmas

Hit the check mark beside Do Maths.

In the Variable To field, enter “%xmassec – %todaysec“.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Now, we have the value in seconds, let’s create a new variable to convert to days. Basic math, really.

Tasker Task Variable Do Math to days

Variable Name “%daystox“.

Hit the check box beside Do Maths.

Variable To%secstoxmas / 60 / 60 / 24

I left the math long so it was easy to see what I was doing. Seconds divided by sixty gives minutes, divided by sixty gives hours, divided by 24, of course, gives days.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit.

Congratulations, you now have the answer of how many days it is until Christmas, or whatever you have made your target date. All there is left to do is something with that value. Here comes the text-to-speech, because, why not.

Tap the “+” button to add yet another action.

Tasker Task Say text to speech

Select Alert.

Select Say.

In the Text field enter an appropriate statement, including your final variable from above. I have entered “There are %daystox days until Christmas.

Feel free to play with the rest of the settings, if you desire, then hit the system Back button to save and exit.

Tasker Run / Play TaskThat is all there is too it. I say that like this was simple. In a way it really was, just a lot of steps to get to this point. Anyhow, go ahead and tap that Task Play button in the bottom corner to test out your project. Don’t be disheartened if it does not work the first time, some tweaking may be required.

Last thing before you exit out of the Tasker Task, tap that icon button in the other bottom corner and add an image to your project, this is where that picture I gave you above comes in.

Tasker Task icon

What’s next

Of course, I have not given you a trigger for this project. You may opt to simply place a Tasker Task widget on your Homescreen. That is probably easiest. From there, if you are really into this thing, why not add it as a piece of a Zooper Widget Christmas design. Wouldn’t hurt to display the countdown right beside your clock. Then, of course, you can remove the voice input validation and simply have it read out the days remaining statement when you click it in your Zooper Widget design.

Tasker Task Say text to speech options

For bonus points, you can add extra text-to-speech commands. In this case, you would want to turn on the If parameter in each Say action. What I’ve done is create three Say actions, one that fires if Christmas is yet to come, another for when it is Christmas day and the last to gently remind me that I’ve missed the special day.

Back to the beginning of this project, we only put voice input into this project for the sake of learning how to use it. It truly does not serve the project very well. Feel free to axe it from the lineup. Tasker includes the ability to disable actions within a Task, without having to delete them. Long press on the desired action, then select the power icon that appears in the top right, or the word Disable, depending on your version of Tasker.

Tasker Task Voice Input Box

Finally, we have a little treat for you today, I’ve gone ahead and packaged up the entire project into an importable XML file. Download it to your device, then long press the Task tab header to choose Import. You’ll have to put your own icon for the project though. For your security, the download hashes as MD5 Checksum: D7B6AE1D1B1975F1DBB57948D8C82E3E

Next Week

We hope that you’ve found use for this week’s Android customization project. Please keep in mind that Christmas is just an example, this project will let you count down to any date you desire, and is good for any time of the year.

Next week, we need to take it a little easier, let’s look at methods to keep your display on longer. Yes, we touched on this subject before, using Tasker – this time out, we’ll show you what the Android OS itself can do, and how to manage those settings.

What is the best use of voice input controls you have running on your device?

Tasker Task Timer Stop Start Music

Last week in our Android customization series, we walked through the basics and tools needed to hook up a USB flash drive to your Android device. As a recap, you need an USB OTG capable device and connector cable, then an app, usually your favorite file manager, to connect. So much simpler than you might have thought it was.

This week, we want to look at our favorite customization app, Tasker, and use it to control our music. Perhaps down the road we will create a full music player, today all we want to create are a sleep timer that shuts down your music automatically, and another timer to fire up your music after a set amount of time, let’s call it an alarm clock.

In the end, today’s project is mostly a lesson in using Tasker’s Task Timer widget.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonYou will require Tasker for our project today. Tasker is $2.99 in the Google Play Store. Be sure to check out some of the capabilities of Tasker and a few of the other projects we’ve built with it, if you are not sure it is worth the price.

Create a music sleep timer using Tasker

This project draws upon an idea I floated a few months back, utilizing the media controls in Tasker to start and stop music playback. First things first, we’ll need to start with the Tasker Task to stop media playback. It’s pretty easy, let’s get started.

Tasker Task Stop Music Media Control

Create a simple Tasker Task and name it concisely and uniquely, I’ll call mine “StopMusic.”

Select Media.

You may have the urge to hit that Music Stop button, resist it. Instead, select Media Control.

Under Cmd, select Stop.

Tap the system Back button.

Tasker Task Stop Music icon

In the bottom right corner, tap the icon with the nine little squares in a grid. You are now setting up an icon for the Task, so follow through the selection method and choose something that appeals to you.

Tap the system Back button, all the way out of Tasker.

Before we continue, it is crucial that we test out the Task we’ve just built. Fire up some music on your device, re-open the Tasker Task and tap that little run button that looks like a media play button. If it does not work, you’ll need to modify the Task a bit. Try turning off Simulate Media Button for starters. If that does not do it, you may actually try out that Music Stop option. The only right or wrong option here is to choose the one that works on your device.

Create the Task Timer widget to stop music

Find an empty 2×1 space on your Homescreen and perform the actions required to place a widget. For most of you, that means long pressing the empty space. Stock Android users will be able to choose the widget from within the applications dock.

Tasker Task Timer Stop Music

Select the Tasker widget called Task Timer.

Choose your “StopMusic” Task.

Verify all looks well and hit the system Back button to save and complete.

As an added tweak, you may choose to resize the widget to 3×1, if you find that the text does not display properly.

Using your new music sleep timer

Tasker Task Timer control Stop Music

To put your sleep timer to work, tap on the icon portion of the widget, on the left hand side. This will open up the time selection tool. Set your desired time and tap OK to start the countdown.

I suppose you’ve chosen just a few seconds at first, just to test things out. If all went well, go ahead and pump it up to half hour or an hour or more, fire up your tunes and head on to bed.

Wake to music in the morning

As I hope you gathered, the process to create an alarm clock is almost exactly the same as your sleep timer.

Create your new Task, named appropriately, perhaps “StartMusic” will do.

This time out, in your media control choose Play [Simulated Only].

It will again need an icon and you will again want to test it out before continuing. This time out, there is a Toggle Pause option that may also work on your device.

With the Task created and tested, follow the same instructions as above to place the Task Timer widget for your alarm clock. Once created, simply choose your amount of time and tap OK to be awoken by your own music come morning.

Tasker Task Timer Stop Start Music

What’s next

You have a bunch of options available to you on this project. You may, perhaps, have a very regimented schedule, in which case you could skip the widget and simply create Tasker Profiles that will stop music at an appropriate time each night and fire up the tunes every morning, without having to bother with the widget.

You should find that once you’ve used the timer once, instead of tapping the icon of the widget to re-select a countdown, you can simply tap the timed countdown numbers to restart the timer using the previous value.

Myself, I like have a visual confirmation of the action. In my Task, I’ve added Alert -> Flash -> “Music Stopped.”

Tasker Task Timer Music Stop notify

Finally, and I apologize if you’ve made it this far without success, you’ll find that Tasker’s media controls are not very precise. I am working on an Android device with Google Play Music as my main music player, and I have a music widget set on my Homescreen. You should not need to have these yourself for the project to work, just be aware that Tasker is firing off generic start/stop media commands that may not work with your desired music player all that well.

Considering the commands are fairly generic, it is also very important to note that the StopMusic Task will stop all media. If you are watching a video on your device when your widget countdown reaches zero, expect that your video player will accept the stop media command and come to a halt.

If you absolutely do not like how this project works, Tasker has the ability to select and play local media files. If you have a single song or folder of songs on your device that you would like to wake to each and every day, you’ll want to use the Media -> Music Play or Music Play Dir options. Just be sure to also have a Tasker built StopMusic tool, or it’ll just keep playing.

Next week

Next Thursday will be Thanksgiving day in the United States, and that means that Christmas is only a short time after that. But just how many days is it exactly until Christmas? Wouldn’t you know it, we’ll use next week’s Android Customization post to create a Christmas countdown for you.

Androidify Christmas LollipopSince most of you will have the day off, we’ll make this a crazy one. We’ll make it a voice activated project that does some hard core variable manipulation to reach our goal. I’ll explain the process as we go, for those that wish to use these tools for other projects. At the same time, I’ll make it easy to just follow along, so you can be up and running with your own ‘days to Christmas’ reminder in no time. For those that do not celebrate Christmas exactly, don’t worry, you can use this project to count down to any day that you desire.

I hope you find a use for the Task Timer through Tasker. Using this tool to play music as an alarm clock, and stop music as a sleep timer, are fairly simple implementations, what great uses have you come up with?

AT&T bumps 10GB to 15 for mobile share value customers

Posted by wicked November - 19 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

AT&T_Logo_01_TAAs of yesterday, AT&T is offering Mobile Share Value customers 15GB for the price of 10 or a limited time. That’s right, for the $100 per month price tag that normally comes with 10GB you’ll get an extra five. According to AT&T you can do a lot with 15GB of data.

With 15GB you can stream 160 hours of music and 30 hours of video, surf the web for 300 hours, 1,000 photo posts to social media, download 100 apps or send and receive 10,000 emails.

The deal is available for existing consumer and business customers. It includes domestic unlimited talk and text, unlimited international messaging from those sent from the US, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to 190 countries for texting and 120 countries for picture and video messages.

So if you’re in the market for a new plan or want to take advantage of an extra 5GB you better hurry. Like I said before, it’s a limited time deal.

source: AT&T

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Android customization – how to connect a USB flash drive to your Android device

Posted by wicked November - 14 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Android USB OTG flash drives

Last week on our Android customization series, we rounded out a string of Tasker and Zooper Widget tutorials that made it possible to rock your Homescreen with custom widgets. With the software customizations we’ve been working with, perhaps it is time to look at something a little more physical, like connecting a USB flash drive to your Android device.

Flash drives spent a good amount of time as the number one way to take your files with you wherever you needed to go. As some of that has changed with Android devices and cloud storage, many of us still have those USB flash drives kicking around looking for a good use.

Let us take a good look at connecting a USB flash drive to your Android device, but fair warning, you’ll need to purchase a new cable to proceed.

Before we get started

As mentioned, connecting a USB flash drive to your Android device will more often than not require a special cable called an USB On-The-Go or OTG cable. I will be using a simple $1.47 OTG cable from Monoprice today, but you may be more comfortable looking at this $1.09 cable from Amazon.

Beyond the basic OTG cable, you can step it up to a powered Y-splitter OTG cable. Be aware that this is not intended to charge your device, rather it is to power your connected USB peripheral. You shouldn’t need this for your basic USB flash drive, but it is highly recommended if you are attempting to connect a full external hard drive or anything that will draw more than 500mA of power.

If you do not already have a flash drive or ten kicking around, you may consider one of the OTG capable USB flash drives or card readers already on the market. Equipped with a micro USB connector, these unit will attach directly to your Android device.


There are also some folks over on Kickstarter that have taken the OTG Flash drive all-in-one approach to the next level, creating a microSD card reader that can plug into either your computer or Android device, plus much more. Feel free to head on over to Kickstarter to learn more about the project, then, if it appears slightly beyond your drone flying, GoPro packing, smart TV flash drive needs, maybe this simpler USB OTG microSD card reader will better suit your needs.

Connecting a USB flash drive to you Android device

This is the easy part. For best results, plug your USB flash drive into your USB OTG cable first, then plug the OTG cable into the micro USB port on your device.

Android USB OTG flash drive

With the right cable, connecting a flash drive to your Android device is a simple thing, but what do you do now?

Apps that can read USB flash drives

Once your USB flash drive is connected to your Android device, you’ll need to use specific apps to be able to access the data. There are a number of options here, of which I will cover just two.

ES File Explorer

In addition to being one of the few apps that can take advantage of your installed microSD card on device, ES File Explorer can also read and write to your connected USB flash drive. Best of all, no root required.

Install ES File Explorer

With your USB flash drive connected, open up ES File Explorer, you will be greeted with a permissions screen. Click OK to allow ES File Explorer to access your USB flash drive.

Now, swipe in from the left hand side to access the side menu. Open the Local section and choose your USB flash drive, mine was named “USB1002″ but this is not the first time I’ve connected it.

ES File Explorer OTG USB flash drive

To eject, simply close out of ES File Explorer then unplug. If your USB flash drive is equipped with an indicator light, make sure that it is not flashing before you unplug.

Special note: Although I’ve used ES File Explorer today, you should find that most file explorer apps will perform the same task in their own way. Check out our list of favorite file explorer apps for suggestions.

Nexus Photo Viewer and Nexus Media Importer

Don’t let the names fool you, these apps should work on any USB Host enabled Android 4.0+ Android device.

Nexus Photo Viewer is a simplified free version of Nexus Media Importer. Do try out Nexus Photo Viewer before spending the $4 on Nexus Media Importer. Both apps should connect to the media on your OTG cable connected USB flash drive.

As above, simply connect your USB flash drive to your OTG cable, then plug the OTG cable into your Android device. These apps will act on the USB attached intent and will immediately ask if you would like to connect. Click OK to proceed.

Nexus Media importer Nexus Photo Viewer OTG USB flash drive

Once in either Nexus Media Importer or Nexus Photo Viewer, you will be able to view your stored content, with extra features such as a photo slide show available in the paid version. There is also a basic file explorer too, so you will be able to transfer files to and from your USB flash drive.

Disconnecting from Nexus Photo Viewer and Nexus Media Importer is done by accessing the menu button in the top right, then choosing disconnect. Then simply unplug.

What’s next

Do not think that a USB flash drive is the extent of devices that you can connect to your Android device. I have successfully tested several powered external hard drives, USB mice and keyboards. Just keep in mind that 500mA limit, as we’ve heard reports of high draw USB peripherals causing damage to phones. Personally, I’ve been lucky in that my device has rebooted on me, without causing any noticeable harm. I was attempting to connect a webcam, just for fun, but it didn’t work.

Android USB OTG mouse

Next week

I’ll give you some time to play around with this week’s Android customization post, let you try attaching all of your USB components to your Android devices. I’ll give you some time, let’s say, on week. Next week, I’d like to use Tasker timer widgets to mess around with music. A sleep timer and an alarm clock should be a good start.

Have you found any fancy USB devices that have unexpectedly connected to your Android device?

Verizon Offers Football Leather Moto X

Posted by wicked November - 7 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

FootballMotoxFor all you football fans out there waiting for your pigskin phone, your wait is over. Verizon has added the Football Leather option to the online Moto Maker website. There was already a leather option, but this option looks and feels like a real football.

If you want to show your love of the gridiron, you’ll have to cough up a few extra bucks—twenty-five of them to be exact. However, that will be a small price to pay for true football fans. Head over to Moto Maker and check it out! Source: Verizon Wireless

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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

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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

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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?

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