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android app to automateI don’t know about you, but I absolutely love ifttt. In case you don’t know what it is, ifttt is an online automation service where you can choose from different “recipes” to automatically perform a task when certain conditions are met. I primarily use it to automatically send out tweets via my Twitter account whenever a new article (just like this one!) goes live, but it’s capable of plenty more.

Such automation is a life saver as it does a lot of the repetitive, boring work for you so you don’t even have to remember to do it. Sadly, ifttt is mainly concerned with other online services, so it aims to work with Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, RSS feeds, etc.  But what if the same level of automation can be applied to your Android phone?

Introducing on{X}

Surprisingly, it can! Microsoft (yes, Microsoft!) has started a project called on{X} where the goal is to allow your Android phone to automatically perform certain tasks when certain conditions are met. It works very much in the same way as ifttt as I’ll show you below, but concerns itself with more typical, everyday events that occur wherever you go instead of online services.

Installation

As the application is relatively new, you may have to do some scrolling before you find the application, if you search for “on{X}” in the Google Play Store. This time I’d suggest using this link to save yourself the hassle. Installation should go very quickly as the download is only around 1MB.

on{X} actually consists of two parts: the Android app which performs the automated tasks, and a website where you can configure all of the recipes you’d like. Apparently it’s too much to ask to be able to do so on the phone itself, but the project is still young and technically in beta so we might see that feature added eventually.

Use Your Facebook Account To Login

android app to automate

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When you first launch the app, you’ll see that the only way to keep track of your enabled recipes is to login via Facebook. This shouldn’t be a problem with your privacy as it simply uses Facebook’s login system and not your entire profile, but in case you stop using on{X} you can always remove the permissions in your Account Settings.

Go ahead and login on your phone as well as on your desktop browser, and you can start getting your hands dirty!

Recipes

android automation

In case you haven’t noticed why the app was only 1MB, you’ll notice it now as the app’s extremely minimalistic characteristics make themselves known. The website is much like the app, except that on the website you can actually choose from pre-programmed recipes.

android automation

Here you have the choice from a decent amount of formulas, all of which are fairly flexible. Remember that all recipe descriptions are only examples. Therefore, if you take the recipe that says “text my wife ‘I’m on my way’ when I leave work”, you can instead change the variables so that your recipe will actually “text my mom ‘I made it to school” when I arrive at school.” For a customized recipe like that, you can keep your mom from worrying about you without having to remember to send her a text message every day.

Not Good Enough? Make Your Own!

Although there’s a good number of useful recipes, what on{X} currently offers may not be enough. For those of you who are daring enough or simply know JavaScript and have some time to dig through their API documentation, you can write your own recipes so your phone can do exactly what you want it to do. For this, your imagination is the limit!

Whether recipes you code yourself are kept private or will be shared for others to use is something I couldn’t find out.

Conclusion

android app to automate

So is on{X} worth taking a look into? Most definitely! This is a highly interesting project that is sure to make my life as well as many others’ lives so much easier. I am personally not all that concerned about possible privacy issues when it comes to location tracking for some of their recipes, but I’m sure someone will bring it up eventually.

I am, however, very interested to see what Microsoft’s future plans are, now that they are building this project on Android and are also allowing Linux to run on their Windows Azure cloud computing platform.

Do you think on{X} is a cool idea? Will you use it, whether now or when it loses its beta tag? What are your thoughts about Microsoft starting to work with Android and Linux? Let us know in the comments!

  1. David Smartt
    June 24, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Why Facebook??? Microsoft has a login system. Looks like they would use Live.

    • Tina
      June 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      Good point!

    • Danny Stieben
      June 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      I see your point, but I suppose Microsoft argued that there are more people using Facebook. Plus Facebook is more recognizable than even Microsoft/Live at this point.

  2. Anthony Cartmell
    June 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Llama is my tool of choice for this sort of thing. Very flexible and powerful.

  3. Anthony Cartmell
    June 20, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Llama is my tool of choice for this sort of thing.

  4. Lazar Voin
    June 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks!

  5. Martin
    June 19, 2012 at 6:03 am

    I'm using tasker (http://tasker.dinglisch.net/) and it works great. you can create your own recipies as well.

    • Danny Stieben
      June 20, 2012 at 6:27 am

      I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the tip, Martin!

  6. Mark Wicker
    June 19, 2012 at 5:23 am

    nice!

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