Hands on the the Tasker App Factory beta

gmail flash tasker app fact - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Have you ever wanted to create your own apps? I know I have, but while I can poke a sharp stick at a few different web languages, Android apps are so far out of my reach that NASA would have to restart its space shuttle program to give me a lift there. That’s why I’ve gotten so hung up on Tasker, as it’s the common man’s Android programming tool. Many Tasker setups are so advanced and similar to apps that you’d have to know that Tasker was behind it to know it wasn’t an app. This similarity is what made Pent, the developer of Tasker, start working on the Tasker App Factory a while back. Now the first beta is out, and as you’ve probably guessed from the name, it allows you to export your Tasker creations as fully working, standalone apps.

This new App Factory tool is frankly nothing short of revolutionary. With App Factory installed, Tasker is able to bundle user created tasks and projects with part of its own back end to create completely independent apps that work on devices that have never even seen Tasker. The complexity of the app depends on the complexity of what you export, from exporting single tasks only that run when the installed app is run, to exporting entire projects that contain profiles, tasks, scenes, and so on. Exported profiles will trigger as long as the app is installed, while the on-click action for the installed app can be used, for example, to open a configuration screen that uses Tasker’s scenes feature and lets you make your own UI. The screenshots at the top show the road from Tasker project to installed app for the Gmail Flash notification profile I wrote about a few days ago, with a new configuration UI created in Tasker.

Aside from setting up the tasks/profiles/scenes correctly, the actual export takes about 5 seconds to run on my Galaxy S II. Installing the app should then work on any Android device that can install from external sources. That being said, you may need to add some custom permissions to the app when exporting it, as well as add an OS version requirement if you’re using features you know aren’t available in a certain Android version. Even so, there’s no guarantees that you won’t run into trouble, simply because of how fragmented Android is. I must say that I have a new respect for developers now, after trying out my Gmail Flash app. On my Galaxy S II, where I created the app, it works perfectly. On my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, the LED turns on as it should, but not off. On Aaron’s Galaxy Nexus, it doesn’t work, and I have no clue why. However, these are not issues with Tasker’s App Factory, but rather with one Android device not being identical to another.

While those issues are not related to the beta, there are issues that are. A lot of them. This is after all a very, very early beta, released to the public in order to find all the bugs, not as a finished app with four extra letters in the name. In fact, it’s recommended that people who aren’t intimately familiar with Tasker stay away from this until it’s out of beta, so that reported bugs are actually bugs. The developer is doing an awesome job at staying on top of bug reports, having released several updated beta builds already. I’ve found two major bugs so far, and he fixed both within hours of me reporting them, along with countless other bugs reported by others. It’s coming along nicely, but there’s still a lot that needs to be tested.

Having an Android app that can create Android apps like this is no small feat, and there are obviously going to be bugs in the beginning. Even so though, I’m amazed at how fast he created a working build of the app export add-on. I’m still waiting for other developers to fix bugs they themselves introduced in their apps weeks ago, while Pent seems to be fixing any bugs reported during the night over breakfast or something.

tasker qr1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereOne thing is for certain, though: this add-on is going to revolutionize Android once released to the public. It will allow people to create their own apps, share with friends, and even sell them on Google Play. If that’s not a reason to learn Tasker, I don’t know what is, so if you want to be prepared for when this is released, download Tasker today and start learning its ropes. A few weeks from now, you could be an app developer as a result.

Download: Google Play (Non-beta version of Tasker, not app export capable)

P.S.: I want to again remind people to be respectful of the workload the developer is under, and not start using the beta version if you’re not already well familiar with Tasker.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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