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Android Customization Tasker Notification Bar

Welcome back to our Android customization series, last week we kept it short and sweet going over a simple display timeout controlling app called KeepScreen. In its simplest form, you choose a selection of apps, when those apps are open, KeepScreen prevents your display from turning off, no frills, no gimmicks.

I had promised that this week we would go over alternative file transfer apps to WiFi File Transfer Pro, I must break that promise. In order to provide the best coverage of the best options, I simply need more time to put it all together, I promise it is still in the works and will be out as soon as it is ready. For today then, we’d like to look as something as simple as KeepScreen, but even more powerful – embedded Tasker Task triggers in your Notifications bar.

The latest release of Tasker was a big one, it included hundreds of new features and updates. One of the most powerful additions is embedded action buttons in the permanent Tasker Notification. You likely noticed this already, the default single button is ‘Disable’, which is a terrible choice in my mind, why would I ever want to turn Tasker off?!?

Let’s quickly look at controlling up to three Tasks and placing them in the Notification bar. Alternatively, if you are absolutely against having these buttons in your Notifications bar, I’ll show you how to turn the feature off as well.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonAlthough I feel you can get your money’s worth out of Tasker, it is sill $2.99 in the Google Play Store. You will also need a device running Android 4.4.x or greater, as this is where Google introduced actionable notifications.

Placing Tasker actions in your Notification bar

Before we place any actions in the Notification bar, we’ll need to decide which actions to add. You’ll need to decide for yourself what actions you need available from anywhere, to be performed by a click. Personally, I listen to a lot of music, and have need to stop music playback many time throughout my day. Easy enough, let’s build that Task.

Tasker Task to stop your music

Open up Tasker and navigate to the Tasks tab.

Tap the “+” button to create a new Task.

Tasker Task Stop Music Media Control

Provide your Task a unique and concise name. I will call mine “StopMusic“.

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

Choose Media.

Choose Media Control.

Under CMD change Next to Stop.

(There is an alternative Music Stop command parallel to Media Control above, although it is easier to implement, I found that it fails to actually stop my music. Feel free to try it out and let me know how it goes for you.)

The remaining options are fine as they are, tap your system Back button to confirm.

That is all you need to do. I have chosen to add a quick flash notification, just an old habit. To do so yourself, add another action, choose Alert, choose Flash, enter your Text, I just put “Music Stopped”, then back out to save and exit.

Tasker Task Alert Flash

The media control action should work for most of your audio and video content, not just your music. I’ll admit that it appears to no longer stop my video playback through MX Player, but it may for you.

Moving on, we now have a Task ready to go into our Notification bar.

Adding a Task trigger button to your Notification Bar

Tasker Notification bar Tasks

Open Tasker and tap the triple dots “hamburger” menu button in the top right corner.

Tap Preferences.

Navigate to the Monitor tab.

Right at the top should be a section called General, a few items below is the option Notification Action Buttons.

For those that absolutely do not want any buttons in their Tasker Notification, simply tap the checkbox to turn it off.

For the rest of us, we can add up to three buttons. Go ahead and tap the magnifying glass button to add a Task.

Choose your desired Task. My Task was named “StopMusic“.

(On my phone, I’ve also added a Display Rotation toggle and Tesla flashlight toggle. On my Tablet I’ve added a display brightness control.)

Tap your system Back button to confirm and exit.

You may need to close and re-open Tasker to finalize the changes, but your buttons will soon populate in your default permanent Tasker notification. Now, no matter where you are or what you are doing, your few items will be there.

 Tasker Notification bar Task buttons

What’s next

As you may have guessed, you could use the three slots for different music playback controls, turning Tasker into a music player. As is true of Tasker, the sky is the limit here, if you can imagine Tasker controlling it, you can get it into the Notification bar.

Perhaps you would like to configure a Task that fires off a SMS message to your family telling them you’ve left work and are headed home. I always forget to do so before getting behind the wheel of the car, since texting and driving is a bad thing, one tap from the notification bar to send a pre-formed message is extremely handy.

Next Week

For next Thursday in our Android customization series, we’d like to take a little closer look at controlling display brightness. We’ve previously looked at an app called Lux, which is super powerful, but perhaps a little complicated at first glance. I’ve got a much simpler solution on deck for you, best of all, it integrates with Tasker and it’s free – but you’ll have to check back next week to see what it’s called.

While Tasker itself is a robust, and somewhat complicated, system, adding buttons to the Notification bar that trigger your created Tasks is a simple things. While the goal with Tasker is to also setup Profiles that make for a truly automated flow, these few things into the Notification bar can be super important to how you use your device.

What Tasks have you chosen to put into your Notification bar?


Via: Android customization;

Top Xposed Framework Modules

Posted by wicked August - 17 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

Xposed Framework is a powerful tool, that allows you to add certain functionality and features to your device which would otherwise be available only through flashing custom ROMs. Xposed framework requires root to access core Android resources, using them to run different modules to add new functionality to the OS. This tool is considered to a must have for power users, and there are quite a few tutorials and guides on how to get started. As mentioned, root access is required, but keep in mind that rooting your device may result in your warranty being void, and a certain amount of technical know-how is recommended before diving in.

The potential here is almost unlimited, and as the number of modules keep growing, it can prove to be daunting task to filter through the various applications available in this tool. That’s where we step in. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the top XPosed Framework Modules. Let’s get started!

Activity Force New Task

Android Xposed framework - activity-force-new-task-3-2

While launching an application from within another isn’t a new feature, there is definitely some room for improvement in this regard. Some of you may have noticed that when you launch an application from within another, hitting the back button takes you directly to the homescreen, instead of back into the app. In some cases, when you launch an app from within another, it doesn’t register as a separate task in the Task Manager or Recent Apps screen, that makes multi-tasking slightly more annoying than it should be. A great solution available is in the form of an Xposed framework module called ActivityForceNewTask.

As the name suggests, this module forces the system to create a new task when an application is launched from within another, making switching between the two that much easier. You also have the option to set filters for different apps, that lets you choose which applications this module does and does not affect. ActivityForceNewTask is a very useful tool for anyone that faces such problems. You can find out more about this module here.

BlackList

Android Xposed framework - blacklist-3

The next module, called BlackList, is something that could be considered a must have for a lot of people. BlackList is an advanced call and SMS filter and blocker, with various features to easily manage unwanted calls and text messages from anyone. You have the option to set up blacklists, exception lists, and even configure blocking options for specific numbers. It’s very easy to add numbers to the different lists and stay organized. You can check out the full list of features and find out more about the BlackList module here.

BootManager

Android Xposed framework - bootmanager-3

If you’re worried about slow boot times and have noticed multiple and unnecessary apps running during system startup, this next module is for you. BootManager, as the name suggests, is a simple tool that lets you control which apps run when the device starts up. All you have to do is click on the apps you don’t want to load when Android boots up, and that’s it. You also have the option to restrict system apps from loading, but that requires a donation. You can find out more about BootManager here.

Complete Action Plus

Android Xposed framework - complete-action-plus-3

What we all love about Android is that it gives us a lot of options. We can share with any application we want, and we can even set application defaults. But with the problem with having so many options is that it can sometime slow down your workflow. With this next module, called Complete Action Plus, you can modify these options, and customize your share options and default application window. For example, you can remove applications you never share with, select from different applications, change the size, and modify colours. There are dozens of options for you the choose form, so it’s something that is definitely worth installing and checking out. You can find out more about the Complete Action Plus module here.

DS Battery Saver

Android Xposed framework - DS-battery-saver-3-3

With our ever-increasing dependency on our smartphones, a growing concern over recent times has been battery life. If you’re hoping to get the most juice out of our device battery, the DS Battery Saver module is the one for you. This application lets you select from a list of battery saver profiles to suit your needs, and you can also set parameters to optimize your battery life. Most current high-end smartphones come with battery saving modes baked in, but for any other device, the DS Battery Saver module helps make a big difference. You can find out more about this module here.

Protected Apps

Android Xposed framework - overview-3

Security is important when it comes to your device, and most of us have a PIN, password, or pattern required to unlock our devices. If you’re looking for the same option when it comes to individual apps as well, the Protected Apps module is what you’re looking for. This module lets you use the device unlock PIN, password, or pattern to unlock a specific app. This proves especially useful for devices used by multiple people, or if you’re worried about your friends posting that awkward Facebook status update when they get their hands on your phone. Since this is a system level lock, there is also no way around out. You can find out more about Protected Apps here.

Smooth Progress Bars

OnePlus One Xposed Framework Smooth System Progress Bar

The next module, called Smooth Progress Bars, is a little add-on that enhances the visual aspect of the OS greatly. This does what it says, and makes your progress bars a lot more smooth. You can tweak and adjust exactly how the loading bar animation should be. This module creates a small visual tweak, but once you have it installed, you’ll find that it is something you can’t live without. You can find out more about this module here.

Tinted Translucent Status Bar

Android Xposed Tinted Transluscent Bar

The Tinted Translucent Status Bar is another module that allows for a visual tweak, that makes things look a lot better. This module gives you the opportunity to use the Translucent mode for the Android status bar and navigation bar in every application that you want. It has a built-in database that downloads the colour profiles for you, and then makes the status bar the same colour as the application. Choose the apps and activities you want to be tinted, set the colour, and how the layout should be adjusted, and that’s it. You can find out more about the Tinted Translucent Status Bar module here.  

Wanam

Xposed Wanam Kit

Apart from the Tinted Translucent Status Bar module above, if you’re looking to further customize your status bar, as well as other UI elements, the Wanam module is the one for you. This lets you tweak and customize various visual elements, and also adds a lot of functionality to the device. You can find out more about the various options available here, and there is also a module that is compatible with the Samsung TouchWiz UI, that you can check out here

XPrivacy

Xposed Framwork Xprivacy

If security is a big concern for you, Xprivacy is the module that lets you completely protect all your information. XPrivacy can prevent applications from leaking privacy sensitive data, and can restrict the categories of data an application can access. This is done by feeding an application with no data, or even fake data. There are several data categories which can be restricted, such as  your contact list or location. You can find out more about the XPrivacy module here

And so, there you have it, a look at some of our top Xposed Framework modules! If there is any module that you feel deserves to be on this list, don’t forget to let us know in the comments section below.

Android customization – KeepScreen, the free way to keep your display turned on

Posted by wicked August - 14 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization KeepScreen

A few weeks back in our Android customization series, we showed you how to use Tasker to control your display timeout. Basically, your Android device follows a single setting to control when your display should go to sleep, usually that is set to 30 seconds or a minute. There are times that this is just not going to work, so we customized it just how we like it.

Some of you mentioned that you would like to do this without Tasker; in response, I give you KeepScreen.

The Tasker project tackled this in a very straightforward and binary way – your device is either set to turn off as normal, or, when specific apps are open, the display remains turned on indefinitely.

KeepScreen also handles this in an on or off sort of way, allowing you to simply choose a set of apps for which your display stays lit.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonKeepScreen is a tiny little free app in the Google Play Store. As this was one of the first customization apps I had ever installed on Android, I think you’ll find it works on almost any device going back to Froyo and even older.

Setting up KeepScreen

Once installed, open KeepScreen and head into the Applications section.

KeepScreen Main Menu

Choose the apps for which the display should remain turned on.

Tap the system back button to confirm.

Tap the Start / Stop Service button to start the service. Watch for the quick flash ‘toast’ notification for confirmation.

KeepScreen Start Service

Congratulations, setup is complete. Feel free to play with the other options, then exit the app whenever you’re ready.

Using KeepScreen

Just kidding, there is nothing to do here. Open up one of the apps you had set in the steps above, wait a moment… Boom, there is that little red table lamp in your notification bar to confirm things are running. You are good to go.

KeepScreen active

I hope I don’t need to mention this, but do be careful which apps you use KeepScreen for, it cares not about your battery consumption and will keep your screen turned on until you stop it, you’ll need to make sure to close the app or manually turn off the display when you are done.

Next week

Next week on the Android customization series we’ll take a look at another alternative solutions to a task we’ve already performed. Many of you shared some great solutions for duplicating the functionality of WiFi File Transfer Pro, based on your suggestions and requests we’ll run through another option, or two.

KeepScreen is about as simple as it gets, does anyone have any suggestions for a similar app that rocks this level of simplicity for controlling display timeout? Perhaps something that has seen an update in the last couple years?

Android customization – WiFi File Transfer Pro

Posted by wicked August - 7 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization WiFi File Transfer Pro Header

Throughout a number of our Android customization tutorials thus far, there has been one simple little thing that has been taken for granted, the ability to get files, usually images, transferred to your Android device.

It may seem a trivial thing, but the ability to efficiently transfer files between your devices is important. For many of us, transferring files between our computer and our Android device means connecting a USB cable, if we had the foresight to bring one with us in the first place, downloading and installing the appropriate drivers and software, then enduring software update checks and data syncing before finally being able to transfer files to and from devices.

Perhaps my description is a little outdated, but I think you’ll find my solution is still very relevant; let’s look at WiFi File Transfer Pro for transferring files between your Android device and your PC.

WiFi File Transfer Pro is a simple yet powerful app which should be in everyone’s arsenal of productivity tools. As the name implies, you can leave your cables behind and enjoy fast data transfers between your devices.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonWiFi File Transfer has a free version that allows you to transfer files up to 5MB in size. If 5MB is not large enough for you, I believe it is worth coughing up the $1.40 for WiFi File Transfer Pro in the Google Play Store.

Important: Your devices need to be on the same network for WiFi File Transfer to work.

WiFi File Transfer Pro initial setup

Once installed, go ahead and open up WiFi File Transfer. The interface is pretty simple, but before you hit that Start button, head into Settings to configure at least one important little thing, security!

WiFi File Transfer Pro Settings Access Password

The first option within Settings is Access Password, tap this and input a password. This password will be required by all other devices attempting to connect to your Android phone or tablet. From there, if you think you’ll be using WiFi File Transfer on public or un-trusted networks, get into Advanced Settings and turn on SSL Encryption.

You may find that enabling SSL Encryption severely reduces the speed of WiFi File Transfer Pro. Hopefully you can operate on a secure network so to avoid this issue. Also, SSL Encryption in this app uses a self-signed certificate, this will result in browser navigation warnings, it doesn’t look good, but just verify that your URL is accurate and that your security warning specifically says that there is a self-signed certificate (not a missing certificate) and you’ll be good. If in doubt, turn off SSL Encryption and try again on a secure network.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Advanced Settings

I would only recommend messing with the Port numbers if you’ve got other services that conflict. Usually, WiFi File Transfer uses Port 1234 for standard connections and Port 2345 for SSL connections.

Finally, I find the WiFi File Transfer Homescreen Widget very handy, but I transfer files almost daily. Just wanted to make sure you knew it was there.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Widget

How to connect to WiFi File Transfer Pro

Android Device

On your Android device, enter into WiFi File Transfer Pro and tap the Start button. If you have the widget setup, you can simply tap the icon on the left side of the widget.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Start and Stop

You will be presented with a URL, it will look something like http://192.168.1.76:1234 or https://192.168.1.76:2345.

Other Device

Head on over to your laptop or desktop computer, or another Android device on the same WiFi network.

Open a web browser.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Log in

Enter the URL into the address bar.

Enter your Password, if applicable.

That is it, you are now connected and can begin transferring files between your Android device and the machine you’ve connected to it with.

Transfer files off of your Android device using WiFi File Transfer Pro

From your connected web browser, navigate your Android device file system to find the files you would like to transfer. Click [Parent Directory] to go up a folder level, think of it as your back button when you go into folders.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Download Files

Select the files to be transferred by clicking the check box on their left.

Click the Download button at either the top or bottom of the list.

If multiple files, choose whether to download them individually or as a zip file.

The files will now download in your browser, as if from any other website on the internet.

Transfer files to your Android device using WiFi File Transfer Pro

From your connected web browser, navigate your Android device file system to the folder that you would like to transfer the files into.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Upload

Click the Choose Files button (or the Select Folder button) and find the files (folder) on your computer that you would like to transfer.

Click the Start Upload button to start the transfer.

Pro Tip: although you are free to navigate your connected Android device’s file system whilst files are downloading or uploading, I’ve found that it often enough breaks the file transfer. I recommend finding something else to do until the file transfer is complete.

There you have it, open up your Android device and check for yourself, the files are transferred and ready to roll.

Properly shutting down WiFi File Transfer Pro

When you are done, hit the Stop button in the app, then hit the Quit button in the bottom right corner to exit. If you were using the widget, simply tap that icon in the widget again.

Access to your Android devices files will be cut off on the connected computer, but the loaded page will still be visible until you click on something in it. Be sure to close that browser tab to keep things private.

What’s next

I only briefly mentioned that you can use any device with a modern web browser to access your files through WiFi File Transfer Pro. Primarily, a laptop or desktop computer will be your connection, but you can use nearly any Android device as well. Since the program has the power to delete files, I would avoid handing over the URL and password to others, but it can be done if needed.

Remember how I said any web browser? That includes the web browser on your smart TV or set-top box as well. Beside ‘File browser’ on the web interface is ‘Media gallery’. It is not magical, but is certainly a quick way to display your local media on the big screen.

WiFi File Transfer Pro Media Gallery

Next week

A while back, we used Tasker to control when your display goes to sleep. The tutorial covered display rotation as well, which I thought was pretty handy. Some of our readers expressed that they needed this functionality, but were either not fans of Tasker, or just wanted a free solution to tackle this display timeout problem. Next week in our Android customization series we’ll show you quickly how to use a free little app from the Google Play Store that controls your display timeout on a per app basis.

Did you get the chance to transfer some files using WiFi File Transfer Pro, how did you like the experience? There are many alternatives to WiFi File Transfer Pro out there, have you found any that have any major advantages over the rest?


Via: Google Play Store;

Android customization – Use IFTTT to get notifications for your favorite feeds

Posted by wicked July - 31 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization IFTTT July 31

Android customization is important to us. So are choices. Over the last few weeks in our Android customization series, we’ve shown you how to take control of your Android device, creating custom control panels, setting up sleep modes, scanning NFC Tags and more. In that spirit, we’d like to now put IFTTT to work in a similar way.

IFTTT (If This Then That) has been around for a while on the web. Users are able to automate and streamline their online world with dozens of tools that work across dozens of services. A fairly typical example would be to have IFTTT send you an email with the download link of a podcast that you follow.

More recently, IFTTT launched an Android app. Along with all of the web services already available, the Android app includes a small set of Android actions that can either be performed or acted upon. We’re not talking Tasker level Android customization resources here, but some of the big ones are covered.

Be sure to check out our coverage of the IFTTT Android app for all the particulars.

IFTT Promo and Recipe Description

 

Now that you know what IFTTT is all about, let’s use it to build stuff!

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonIFTTT is a free app in the Google Play Store. You’ll need an Android 4.0+ device and will have to setup an account with IFTTT.com to use the service. I highly recommend setting up your account on your PC before diving into the app, and, although we won’t need it today, I find it handy to build my IFTTT recipes with a computer nearby to look up URLs and such.

The first time you start IFTTT on your Android device, it runs you through setup and a lengthy introduction, you’ll need to get through all this as well before we start.

Receive an Android Notification when Android Authority posts a new article

It may be a little overwhelming to receive a notification for each and every post we make, so let’s instead drill a little deeper and only receive notifications for posts of a specific nature.

Go ahead and open up IFTTT.

Tap the mortar and pestle icon on the top right to view your recipes.

IFTTT If This demo

Tap the “+” icon to add a new recipe.

Tap the blue “+” icon where it says Start here! to establish the ‘if’ in our recipe.

Scroll sideways through the many services until you find Feed. The list is alphabetical, so it should be somewhere between Facebook and Fitbit.

Tap on the “+” beside New Feed item matches.

Fill in the keyword to match. If you wanted to only get our posts with videos, simply type “video”. Myself, I will enter ‘Android customization‘.

The Feed URL is http://feeds.feedburner.com/androidauthority

Tap Next to continue.

IFTTT Then That demo

Tap the red “+” icon to add the ‘that’ to your recipe.

Scroll through the huge list of available actions until you find Android Notifications.

Tap the “+” beside Send a notification.

Tap Finish to save your recipe.

There were a lot of steps, but you got through it all. Now, you can sit back and wait for your notification of when we next post something. Or, of course, if you followed along my example, you’ll get your notification next Thursday when I post my regular Android customization article. Hmm, what should I cover next week?

What’s next

As I am sure you noticed, IFTTT has many available triggers and is able to fire off a bunch of actions. You will need to use your imagination a little bit to really put the app to work. Good thing they offer sample recipes in-app.

Many people use IFTTT to automatically upload images and screenshots to Dropbox or another cloud/photo service. Some use IFTTT to control their Nest thermostat based on the weather. Others Yo IFTTT to trigger an incoming phone call from IFTTT, you know, that fake emergency call to escape a bad date.

 

IFTT Recipe ideas

Next Week

Let’s really change directions next week. We’ve spent weeks dealing with design and automation projects on our Android customization series, to produce all of these articles, we’ve needed to move a ton of files to and from our PC and Android devices. We assume that you have need to transfer files as well, so let’s take a look at moving files using the app WiFi File Transfer (free and pro.)

What is your best and most useful IFTTT recipe on Android?

Swiftkey Keyboard updates with new themes, performance improvements and more

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

SwiftKey_Ver_5_Splash_Banner

SwiftKey pushed an update to the Play Store today, their largest update since making the popular keyboard free to the public. While the update features a ton of performance improvements, it also features some new themes and three new languages (Kyrgyz, Tajik and Turkmen).

It should be noted that in their official statement, the developers made sure to point out that while the update will fix performance issues on some devices, results may vary. Here’s the full list of improvements:

  • Improved typing performance
  • Improved some translations
  • Improved keyboard loading time
  • Improved Flow performance
  • Fix for the bottom row being hidden in some devices
  • Fixed Yahoo! personalization
  • Fixed background disappearing issue in some themes
  • Fixed some other force closes and crashes

If that wasn’t enough, SwiftKey also kicked off their summer sale today, offering savings of up to 33% on themes and theme packs. You can find these saving in the SwiftKey store, alongside five new themes: Spotlight Purple, Edge Green, Pulse Yellow, Pulse Pink and Hazy Pink. Hit the Play Store link below to update today, and if you aren’t already using SwiftKey, there is no time like the present to try one of the most popular alternative keyboards of all time.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Source: SwiftKey
qr code

Play Store Download Link

 

 

Come comment on this article: Swiftkey Keyboard updates with new themes, performance improvements and more

Team Win Recovery Project adds support for Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch

Posted by wicked July - 27 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

TWRP

Team Win posted its official custom recovery for both the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch today, giving users the ability to add customer ROMs to the devices.

Once you’re in custom recovery, the options on the screen are a bit small for a smartwatch screen, so an upcoming interface update will most likely resize the buttons. Otherwise, everything works fine. Of course you’ll need an unlocked bootloader before you do anything.

Some solid custom ROMs should be on the way soon, so just be patient…

Click here to view the embedded video.

Source: XDA Developers

Come comment on this article: Team Win Recovery Project adds support for Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch

Android customization – Write and scan NFC Tags using Trigger

Posted by wicked July - 17 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Header Trigger July 17

Luckily, we’ve already discussed what NFC is and what NFC Tags are and how they work. Let’s now build on that and put the power of NFC tags into your hands using an app named Trigger.

Trigger is designed to take NFC Tags to the next level. Instead of writing standard information to the tags to be read by any NFC app and device, Trigger writes short code that, upon reading the tag, is interpreted into nearly any action on your device that you can imagine.

Trigger is capable of performing many actions that users of Tasker may be familiar with, in-fact, should you not desire to re-create many of your tasks, you can use Trigger to fire a Tasker Task. That’s right, instead of creating Tasker Profiles, you can use a NFC Tag to fire your Tasker Tasks, check back next week to see how that is done.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonWith your NFC capable Android device, head on in to the Google Play Store for your free copy of Trigger. You will also need some NFC Tags. Feel free to hit up Amazon for your tags, or, keeping it super simple, you can order tags through the Trigger Shop in-app.

Create a Trigger Task

Let’s keep this super simple, we want to see the process without getting caught up in the details, so, let’s set this up so your NFC Tag turns your display brightness down and turns off your ringer. A simple bed time mode.

Trigger Create Task Step 1

Head on into Trigger, navigate to the My Tasks section and click the “+ New Task” button in the top right to get started.

First, we setup the Triggers for our actions. Go ahead and tap the “+” button in the top right.

We will discuss the other options later, for now, tap NFC to continue.

Tap Next.

Add restrictions. I always recommend playing with options, so feel free to apply any restrictions you deem fit for your needs. For our purposes, we do not want any restrictions, so simply tap Done to continue.

You can also add multiple Triggers, so that the NFC Tag only works if your device is connected to a specific WiFi network, for example. Here again, let’s keep it simple and not add additional Triggers.

Tap Next.

Trigger Create Task Step 2

At the bottom, rename your Task Uniquely and concisely. I will call mine “SimpleSleep.”

Tap the “+” button in the top right corner to add your Tasks.

From the long list of available categories, tap Sound & Volume.

Tap Ring / Notification volume.

You can either now tap Sound & Volume again to close the category, or just leave it and move on.

Tap Display.

Tap Brightness.

You’ve now selected which settings to configure, tap Next to set values for them.

Adjust Ring Volume to your desired value, I will choose 0.

Adjust your Display Brightness setting, once again, I will choose 1. Please be aware of how our device brightness values operate, some devices have a completely black screen at value 0.

Tap OK to confirm settings.

Review your Tasks, add more if you so choose, then hit Next to continue.

Trigger Create Task Step 3

Trigger will now show you the Switch Tasks section. As it states, if you create Tasks here then your NFC Tag will toggle between firing your above Tasks and the ones you assign here. This is great if you want to use the same NFC Tag to toggle on and off certain settings. We’re going to skip this option today as well.

Tap Done.

Now for the scary part, take your NFC Tag and place it against your device. You will hear a confirmation sound that your NFC Tag has been written to. Feel free to write as many tags as you wish by tapping them one at a time against your device. Okay, not that scary.

Tap Done to complete.

There you have it. You have successfully written to your own NFC Tag so that it fires a custom task on your device.

Some things to be aware of

Trigger writes custom code to your tags that require not only the app to remain installed on your device(s), but for the Tasks to be created and active in the app. The folks behind Trigger have another app called NFC Writer that can write tags to be read by any NFC enabled device. The advantage is that Trigger code is much shorter than traditional NFC language, allowing you to put many commands onto a single tag.

We did not write-protect the tags today, you can re-write to the tags if needed. This is not recommended, but I can confirm that a tag I have now written to several times over a span of a year is still working fine. This also means that others can write to your tags, which can be a security concern. Simply tap the Settings icon in the top write corner of the tag writing screen and select ‘Make tag read-only’ to change this.

Trigger Read only Setting Warning

What’s next

I am sure you noticed that there are tons of options within Trigger to create many Tasks using various Triggers. My advice is to think about your normal daily routine, what actions do you take on device throughout your day that would be best handled using NFC? From there, think about groups of actions that you always perform at the same time, our example today dimmed the display and silenced the ringer, it could have also silenced the notification volume and turned up the alarm volume. All of that and more with a single tap of an NFC Tag.

Next Week

We kept it pretty simple today. Sure, there are a lot of steps to perform a simple Task in Trigger, so we’ll keep it simple again next week and use Trigger to fire up a Tasker Task, this way, you can re-use some of the Tasker projects we’ve already worked through. I’m all about re-purposing projects and code where possible, and avoiding duplicating tasks.

That’s how easy it can be to write your own NFC Tags using Trigger. What do you think, can NFC Tags automate anything significant in your Android world?

Moto Maker to come to Mexico this week

Posted by wicked July - 15 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Motomaker MotoX

Moto Maker will be made available to customers in Mexico this week, according to Motorola.

The news follows the service’s expansion to Germany last week.

The Mexican site will have the same customization options. It’s live now, but the check out service doesn’t work yet. Pricing isn’t known but we do know it will depend on the customer’s service plan through Telcel. 

Come comment on this article: Moto Maker to come to Mexico this week

Android customization – using Tasker to control display timeout and rotation

Posted by wicked July - 10 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Android Customization Header Tasker Display timeout rotation July 10

Are you getting the hang of Tasker yet? We’ve spent a few weeks now working through a number of relatively simple Tasker Tasks and Profiles including setting your alarm volume so you don’t sleep in, silencing your phone at night, and making sure those few important calls get through, even when the phone is silent.

The previous Tasker projects were designed as much to get you familiar with working with Tasker as they were to provide simple, yet invaluable, functionality. Today, we will continue this trend as our Android customization series continues.

Let’s use Tasker to automate the display timeout and rotation settings.

Before we get started

Get it on Google Play ButtonI think you know it already, you’re going to need an Android device with Tasker installed. Tasker is still $2.99 in the Google Play Store.

User Tasker to control display timeout

On most versions of Android you can head into Settings -> Display -> Sleep, or something similar to that, if you want to manually control the display timeout setting. As you also know, many apps have the ability to override this setting to keep your screen turned on indefinitely. Some apps, however, do not come with this ability, allowing the display to turn off just when you need it most.

Personally, I find camera apps to be the biggest offenders. I start Camera, get settled to take my shot and boom, my screen turned off and I have to start again. Bad example? Perhaps you have a game installed that has lengthy cut-scenes, but you’ve never seen them through because your display shuts off on you. Or you just want to use Google Maps as a navigation tool in the car, but it keeps shutting off.

Let’s take a look at how Tasker can keep your display turned on for you. First step will be to create the Task that keeps the display turned on, then a Profile to trigger it.

Tasker Task – display timeout

Tasker Display Timeout Task

Head on into Tasker and get to the Tasks tab. Tap the “+” button at the bottom to create a new Task.

Name your Task uniquely and concisely. I will call mine “KeepScreen”. (In homage of the single purpose app that can do this too.)

Tap the “+” symbol to add an action.

Select Display.

Select Display Timeout.

Set your desired time to keep the display turned on. I assume that you already have your device set to turn off after about a minute, thus, you’ll want to have a greater timeout here. Myself, I’ll go with 59 Secs, 59 mins and 23 Hours, which, is interpreted as ‘infinite’ for our purposes here.

Tap the system back button to confirm settings, then again to exit the Task Edit screen.

Simply enough, you now have a Task ready to keep your display turned on for a custom amount of time. Let’s now go figure out when to use it.

Tasker Profile – display timeout

Tasker Display Rotation Task

Navigate over to the Profiles tab and hit the “+” button to create a new Profile.

Choose Application.

You are presented with a list of all installed apps on your device, go ahead and choose the apps that you want to keep your screen awake for. Myself, I select my camera apps, the games and media player apps that I know fall asleep on me, My Tracks and Maps for hiking and driving, Google Photos, so the screen stays on when I’m showing my friends my hiking pictures, and Ingress.

Note: I have observed no issues in assigning apps that already handle their own display timeout.

Hit the system back button to confirm your apps.

You are now presented with the list of all of your created Tasker Tasks, choose your “KeepScreen” Task.

Congratulations, you’ve completed another Tasker project and are starting to really get your money’s worth out of this app.

Clean up

Tasker Settings Note

By default, Tasker is designed to return any changed system setting to the original value when a Profile is completed. If you find that your default display timeout does not return, go ahead and create another Task that sets your display timeout back down to your desired default time, then add it as an Exit Task in the profile you created above.

Use Tasker to control display rotation

If you’ve worked through the above display timeout tutorial, then you’ll find that using Tasker to control display rotation is pretty simple too. The idea here is to have your display rotation locked by default, but unlocked for specific apps, follow the same basic steps as above, simply change up your Task as follows:

Tasker Display Rotation Task

Task name “NoImSpinner.”

Select Display.

Select Display Rotation.

Set to On.

Follow the same steps as above for the Profile, or find other creative ways to control when you want your display to be able to rotate.

What is next?

I’ve presented a very simple method of enabling/disabling display timeout and rotation, you’ll have to get more creative if you want finer tuned controls. Perhaps you always read a book before sleep, but the display rotates on you when you lay down – you may want to assigns display rotation for your reading app so that it auto rotates during the day, but stays locked after 10pm, or whatever works best for you.

Bonus – Control display brightness

One of our readers asked if Tasker can control display brightness based on the light sensor. If you also do not like how the default auto-brightness works, create brightness Tasks with Display->Display Brightness. Create Profiles with State->Sensor->Light Level. You will have to play around to see what Display Brightness levels work best for your needs, and which Light Level readings best trigger the Tasks, but these are the items you are looking for. As for those games you play that your thumb covers the light sensor, try adding additional parameters to the Profiles that account for the apps running. (Hope that helps, Mr. Meatloafers.)

Next week

Next week in our Android customization series we’ll take a look at utilizing NFC tags using an app called Trigger. If you wish to do some homework, we’ve previously explained what NFC is, and how NFC Tags work. Trigger offers the ability to write your own information to NFC tags, and use it to control your Android device. Hint: you could use an NFC tag to trigger a Tasker Task, but we’ll talk about that another time.

How do you like to keep your display timeout and rotation settings? Are you a portrait or landscape user?

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