One of the reasons Android is better than iOS is the amount of control it offers users. You can make Android behave just the way you want it to. In fact, you can tell it how you like things and even automate certain processes.
There’s no lack of automation apps on Android, but Tasker is the leader of them all. That said, despite a recent update, Tasker’s interface feels difficult to use. Plus, it requires you to root your Android device. Even some tech geeks here at MakeUseOf abandoned the app because it was just too cumbersome.
If automation is supposed to make your life easier, then it shouldn’t be difficult to use. That’s why MacroDroid is going to be your new best friend. Or your butler.
MacroDroid: A Simpler Tasker
Download and install MacroDroid, and you’ll be surprised by how simple the interface is. Just see the difference between MacroDroid (left) and Tasker (right).
You’ll see six menu items in MacroDroid.
- Macros: The “macros” or automations you have already set up.
- Add Macro: Interface to make your own new macro.
- Templates: Browse macros submitted by other users.
- Settings: Dive into the app’s settings.
- Forum: Discuss any issue or thought you have about MacroDroid.
- Export/Import: Export or import your MacroDroid settings.
Obviously, you’ll start with Add Macro. Before you begin, it’s best to back up your Android device, just in case anything goes wrong. It’s unlikely, but better safe than sorry.
Also, you should know about Android permissions, since MacroDroid needs quite a few. Though the app has been around for some time now and generally has good reviews, so it should be safe.
How to Automate a Task
Each macro has three basic stages: Trigger, Action, and Constraints.
The trigger is whatever starts a macro. For example, shaking your phone is a trigger, or swiping a particular way is a trigger, or an incoming call can be a trigger. A macro can have multiple triggers, so that two conditions have to be met for the action to be executed.
The action is whatever task you want to execute. It could be sending a text, switching the GPS on or off, or even starting an app.
If you want to start an app based on a trigger, then you’ll need to choose which app and whether you want to start a new instance or use the running app. Once you choose the actions, tap Menu (three-dot icon) > Test Actions to see if you picked what you wanted.
The constraint is a set of conditions under which the macro won’t trigger. For example, you might have set up a macro to switch off mobile data when you connect to Wi-Fi. But you can set up the constraint to not do that for a certain Wi-Fi connection (like the wireless network at your gym, which often has a weak signal).
Once you’re done, tap the Menu > Test Macro to run it once. You don’t want to enable something without testing it, so don’t skip this step!
It’s all pretty simple, and once you set up a macro or two, you’ll know exactly what to do. Compared to Tasker, MacroDroid is far easier. But the best part is yet to come.
The Genius Lies in Templates
MacroDroid’s user base has built some fantastic macros over the years that can make your Android smartphone or tablet smarter than ever. These automated scripts are shared in Templates, sorted by Local, Top Rated, and Latest.
Like IFTTT for Android’s best recipes, this is where you’ll strike gold. Go through the Top Rated section to find some magnificent macros that will change how you use your smartphone.
Here’s a brief list of some of the cool ones:
- Flashlight: Turns your flashlight on and off when you shake the phone.
- Spy: Records conversations secretly when you flip your phone face down.
- All in one Wifi/BT delayed disconnect v2: Automatically disables Wi-Fi or Bluetooth after 30 seconds with no connection.
- Fully Charged: Get a notification when your phone is 100% charged. It’s best practice to not keep a phone charging for too long after it’s full because it can affect the health of your lithium-ion battery.
- Light: Shake the phone to set it to maximum brightness. A fantastic tool when you’re outdoors and can’t see the screen because you had set the brightness too low.
- Home in: When you get home, automatically starts the Wi-Fi, reduces volume, and changes the ringtone.
- Leave home: When leaving the home, turns off Wi-Fi, turns on Bluetooth, and decreases screen timeout.
- Car mode: Configure Android to Car Mode when placed in a car dock.
- App auto-rotation toggle: Enable auto-rotation when launching certain apps (like YouTube). Disable auto-rotation when you close the app.
- Beep each hour: It’s a tiny alarm, without being an alarm.
- Quick keyboard change: Swipe gesture to change among useful Android keyboards.
You can add any of these macros to your own Android device and even edit them if you want a certain feature changed.
To edit a macro, browse to it in the main Macros folder. You can change any trigger, action, or constraint you want.
MacroDroid Free vs. Pro
The free version of MacroDroid restricts users to five macros running at any time. If you want more than five, you’ll need to pay $2.99 for the Pro version.
The free version is also ad-supported, so it can affect your battery a bit more than you’d want to.
Should you buy it? We’d recommend just trying it out first to see if the five macros are enough for you. If you want more, buy the Pro version.
Download: MacroDroid for Android (Free | $2.99 for Pro)
MacroDroid vs. Tasker vs. The Rest
Having tried out MacroDroid, I’m surprised by how well it works and how simple it is to set up. You don’t need to be a techie to figure this out. Just follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll be fine.
That’s not the case with several other Android apps, like Tasker, Agent, and more. This simplicity sets MacroDroid apart, and makes it the first app anyone new to automation should try. If you tried and dumped Tasker because it was too complex, give MacroDroid a shot.
Do you think MacroDroid is better than Tasker for simple automation? Have you found Tasker too complex? Are you an existing MacroDroid free or pro user? Tell us what you’re thinking in the comments!