How To Automate Your Android Smartphone To Do Just About Anything
Having a smartphone can make your life a whole lot more convenient. When you’re lost, it can help you find your way home. When you’re in a strange town that you don’t know and want to find a good restaurant or a gas station to fill your tank, your smartphone is there.
With all of its wonder and conveniences, sometimes smartphones and tablets can also be a little bit clunky to use. Sometimes, you’re at home and want to use your Wi-Fi, so you aren’t consuming data from your cellular data plan. On the other hand, when you’re on the road, you want your phone to turn off things like Wi-Fi and GPS to save batteries.
Here at MakeUseOf, we’ve offered plenty of tips about managing your phone connections, like Erez’ article on finding good Wi-Fi networks with Android. One solution to manage those network connections is by automating your Android smartphone with programs like Llama to automatically switch them.
However, if you’re going to start automating your Android smartphone, you might as well take that process beyond network switching and use automation to automatically launch apps, open up web pages and open up files on a set schedule. The more tasks you automate with your smartphone, the less you have to remember, and the less likelihood that you’ll forget important tasks.
Automating Your Android Smartphone
The most common type of Android phone automation is setting it up so that it automatically connects to the Wi-Fi networks that you use whenever you are within range of those networks.
The problem with GPS-based apps that automatically enable or disable Wi-Fi connections based on your GPS location is that they need your GPS enabled, which can really burn down your battery level pretty fast.
Automate Wi-Fi Based On Charger Connection
A better approach to automate your Wi-Fi connection is running an app like Wi-Fi Automatic.
Wi-Fi automatic is a simple concept, but if you think about it, it’s the perfect solution. Even when I’m home, I don’t really want Wi-Fi enabled unless I have my phone plugged in, because of so much power Wi-Fi consumes. Wi-Fi Automatic monitors your power supply and whenever you plug it in, it will enable Wi-Fi.
You can also set up the app to prompt you when toggling the Wi-Fi state, or just do do it automatically in the background without any prompt.
I really like this solution, because I can’t even count the times that I’ve mistakenly left Wi-Fi enabled when my phone was unplugged, only to discover the next morning that my phone was completely drained of power, when normally it would have easily lasted twice the time on one charge.
Automating Bluetooth Connections
A similar method to automate your Bluetooth connections is to use an app like Automatic Bluetooth Toggle. This app is very flexible, and lets you enable or disable Bluetooth depending whether there’s even one of your paired devices within range, whether you have a power supply plugged in, or just have it enabled upon incoming calls if you’re only using Bluetooth to pair with a Bluetooth headset.
Before starting the automatic Bluetooth service, go into the app settings and define how you want to automate Bluetooth. In my case, I want Bluetooth turned on only when I have the power supply plugged into the phone. That’s because I use it on my tablet to connect to my Droid only when I have both devices plugged in.
Another really cool feature of Automatic Bluetooth Toggle is the ability to have your phone regularly scan the area for the presence of your Bluetooth device, and then automatically enable Bluetooth whenever one is found. In my case, this fully automates the process to pair my tablet with my smartphone, because when it’s plugged in, the tablet will regularly scan the area for the smartphone Bluetooth connection every 30 minutes.
I never have to bother going into the settings and creating that connection – the whole process is now fully automated.
Automating Your Smartphone On Schedule Or On Events
Of course, automating your Android involves a whole lot more than just enabling or disabling Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, right? Thankfully, there’s a really cool app called TaskBomb that allows you to automate customized tasks whenever a certain event takes place on the phone, or on a regular automated schedule.
The main window of TaskBomb shows you the process of setting up the automations. You first create the tasks, then define any schedules or delays for those tasks, and then set the alarms.
Creating a task just means exactly what action you want to occur either after a certain trigger or on a schedule. Types of actions available include opening a file stored on your device or a website URL, launching the main screen of any app on your device, running a shortcut on your desktop or customizing your own unique actions.
When you set it up to automatically launch an app, it’ll pop up a window to pick from all apps installed on your device.
One thing I wanted to do was set up my Android tablet to automatically launch the WordPress editing link for my blog every night after supper at the same time. This way, all I have to do after supper is sit down at the couch, open up my tablet, and it’s all set up for a daily blog post. To do this, I create an action to open a URL and choose the app that I want to use to open it.
I give it the URL of my blog WordPress login, click okay, and the task is finally set up.
Setting up tasks is only the first step of the automation process. The tasks tell the app what action you want to occur.
The next step is to tell the app how exactly you want to automate those tasks. Whenever you define a task, you can add a delay after the trigger event. This may only be useful if you want to do something after you’ve launched a different app, but if you’re launching a task on a regular schedule, you may just want to leave this at zero.
You can automatically launch tasks on a schedule by setting alarms. To define an alarm, you just click the action you’ve created that you want to occur and then define the start time and day (or days) for that action to automatically take place.
Configuring Automatic Phone Profiles
The last app I’d like to mention for automating your Android device is. This app is simple, but very useful. You set up either time or location profiles that have specific settings for ring mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and telephone.
Because I don’t like leaving my GPS enabled, I only really use the schedule to create profiles based on what time of the day it is, but if you want you could create profiles based on when you are within certain GPS coordinates. I use this app mostly to control when my phone is in vibrate-only mode, or in normal ringtone mode when I’m home.
Once I have all of these apps configured, my phone is almost completely automated, and with the TaskBomb app you can launch apps, websites or files on a schedule or based on other actions, making your automation possibilities nearly unlimited.
Do you do anything to automate your Android smartphone? What automation tips and apps can you share? Share your ideas in the comments section below.
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