Best apps to automate your Android phone

Access to your Android settings can be achieved more quickly and more easily than ever before on the latest version of the platform. It’s important to be able to turn Wi-Fi or GPS on or off when you want to. There are various apps that allow you to add widgets to your home screen or even a settings panel to your notifications (it comes as standard in Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay now).

You may be able to access your settings more easily than before, but you still have to decide when to turn things on and off, and you still have to manually swipe and tap your way through the process.

Is there an easier way?

There’s always an easier way. That’s one of the great things about Android. You can actually automate your Android settings for different scenarios. By using the right apps or employing NFC tags you can make life run more smoothly.

We’re going to take a look at some of the best apps you can use to automate your Android settings by creating “if this then that” rules to trigger specific profiles. We’ll also discuss what you can do with programmable NFC tags.

Motorola Smart Actions (Free; Google Play)best android automation apps motorola smart actions

Sadly, this app is only available on Motorola smartphones. It allows you to set specific phone profiles for different locations and you can create “Smart Actions,” which are essentially the same as “if this then that” rules. For example, you could tell your phone to switch the ringer off at bedtime, automatically play music when you plug in headphones, or turn power-draining features off as soon as your battery dips below a specific level.

There are various triggers you can use to create actions, which makes this app quite versatile. Other potential actions you could set up include switching to vibrate instead of the ringer when you connect to your work Wi-Fi, to avoid those meeting disruptions. You could also trigger maps, GPS and a specific playlist for music when you connect to your car’s Bluetooth. It’s a real time saver.

Tasker ($6.50)

You may have heard about Tasker before. It’s basically the most comprehensive automation app for the Android platform. It provides you with lots of potential triggers, over 200 possible actions, and the ability to create extremely complicated rules. If you want to unleash the potential power of Android automation, and you don’t mind a learning curve, then Tasker is the only choice.

It will take some time to get to grips with and it’s probably overkill for some people, but the things you can do with Tasker are impressive. For example, it goes beyond setting a basic alarm for a specific time in the morning. You could specify that on a certain day of the week your alarm goes off, plays a specific music track, loads up a news app, and says “Remember to drop Amy at swim practice.” The things you can achieve by tweaking the rules make it worth persisting with and you can find help on the Tasker website and elsewhere online.

AutomateIt (Free)

The free version of AutomateIt offers an impressive array of options and it is relatively straightforward to use. You can easily set up rules based on a wide variety of triggers and there are plenty of possible actions. It’s not as comprehensive as Tasker, but it is also slightly easier to use. If you don’t like ads then you can pay $1.60 for the Pro version, which also gives you a few extra triggers and the ability to set multiple triggers and actions for specific rules.

Other apps

There are quite a few automation apps for Android that you might want to check out. They each have a different set of capabilities so shop around and read the reviews to see what might suit you best. Take a look at Llama – Location Profiles, Modus Operandi, Timeriffic, and Smart Settings. If you know of any others you would recommend then post a comment and tell us why they’re worth checking out.

Samsung TecTiles ($15 for 5; Amazon)

There are a lot of potential uses for NFC and Android automation using programmable NFC tags is one of them. TecTiles from Samsung are basically wee stickers that you can program with a set of instructions for your phone and then place somewhere useful. You’ll need the free TecTiles app, along with a pack of tiles to start. They come in packs of five and you can reprogram them for new instructions or you can lock them down to a specific instruction or function.

samsung tectiles aim to reinvent the qr code

You could have a bedside tile that sets your alarm at night or a tag on your dashboard that sets your preferred car profile. You could also set one up to display a message to whoever taps their phone on it or it could automatically link them up with your LinkedIn profile or register a Facebook like. You could have a tile that launches a specific app or automatically sends an SMS to a specific number. There are loads of great possibilities, from simple directions or web page links, to sharing contact details, all with a simple tap.

TecTiles are new and not as far-reaching as you might like. The ability to program tiles to trigger multiple events from different categories would really elevate its potential usefulness. At $15 for five tiles you may feel it’s a bit expensive and underpowered right now.

Automation is the future for Android

As Android has developed, each release has offered new features to make life easier. Things that used to only be available as apps or widgets have been rolled into the operating system. It would be great to see some automation options in the next major platform update.

Have you tried any Android automation apps yourself? Do you like the idea of TecTiles? Do you have any tips or recommendations for anyone looking to automate their Android phone? Post a comment and tell us what you think.


Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.

Keep on clicking with the 10 best browsers for Android

Browsing the web on an Android device should not be a pain. Check out our picks for the best browsers for Android, so you can surf the web with greater ease and access a trove of unique features.

Android will finally get a faster sharing menu, but it might take a while

The Android sharing menu has gotten a whole lot better over the years, but it's also gotten slower. Thankfully, however, it seems as though Google is working on a better, faster sharing menu but, unfortunately, it may take a while.

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.

Best Google Pixel 3 XL screen protectors

It's tough to find good screen protectors, but the 6.3-inch OLED screen in the Google Pixel 3 XL definitely demands to be protected from scratches and impact damage. We've picked out the best options and included insight into the downsides.

Pocket Casts adds more cross-sync, curation, and Siri Shortcuts

Pocket Casts is a pocket staple for many podcast fanatics. But it's about to get even better with the introduction Pocket Casts 7.0 that adds intelligent curation, Siri Shortcuts support, and a streamlined UI.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.

Text messages are disappearing on Pixel 3s, but a fix is on the way

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably the best Android phones out there right now -- but they aren't perfect. Users have reported a number of issues and problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Here's how to fix them.

Get ready for more V-series phones: LG trademarks names up to the V90

It looks like we should get ready for more LG V-series phones. LG has trademarked names for the LG V50 all the way up to the LG V90. We may have to wait some time before we see these phones; the next LG flagship is expected to be the LG G8.