AndroidGood and EVOTutorials

How to create an anywhere-access sidebar menu of Tasker tasks

Screenshot 2013 04 14 16 58 59 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereIf you’re like me, your Tasker setup involves a lot of standalone tasks that aren’t triggered by profiles, but rather directly via widgets or shortcuts. I have these for both launching scenes and other tasks, and my home screen has become quite riddled with invisible icons that I use to control all of it.

Yesterday however, I started playing with an app we’ve featured before, Sidebar. It allows you to invoke a sidebar menu from anywhere in Android, and you can then populate that meny to act as a quick access launcher of app switcher. I wanted to try to use it to keep my Tasker tasks in, but quickly discovered that the lack of ability to add non-app shortcuts meant that wouldn’t work. I did however find references to similar apps when reading about Sidebar, and ended up installing Swapps, which is essentially identical, but with support for non-app shortcuts, including Tasker’s Task Shortcuts.

I’ve set up Swapps to be activated on the right side of the screen, I’ve hidden the text labels, made the  header color transparent, and I’ve deactivated recently used apps and “show all apps”. Then I’ve populated the launcher with Tasker tasks using the Task Shortcut action and Swapps’ Starred Apps option, making sure to specify the icon I want in the task before adding it. You start off with only three slots for starred apps by default, but can add more in the settings. Finally, I set the pad width to 37dp, and the icon size to 70dp, but those values might not work on all devices. With all of this set up, the result is what you see in the video below:

I think this works extremely well, and it looks quite fancy when combined with tasks that launch scenes in the same style. I advise anyone who wants to try this to play around a bit with the Swapps settings to get everything configured correctly, especially when it comes to the location and size of the activation zone. The same goes for the rest of the settings, and the settings I mention above are just suggestions. By default though, Swapps looks very different from what you see in the video.

On a sidenote, I did keep Sidebar around as well. I activate Swapps with Tasker shortcuts from the right, and Sidebar with normal apps from the left. This gives me access to pretty much anything I do on the phone without ever going into the main launcher, as they both work from the lock screen.

Swapps is available in Google Play for free, but to get access to the settings that are pretty much required to use it properly, you need to unlock it via an in-app purchase. The cost of this is somewhere between $2-3; I paid in NOK, so I don’t know the US price for sure.

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Download: Swapps

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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.

Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

28 thoughts on “How to create an anywhere-access sidebar menu of Tasker tasks

  • I have nova launcher with a hidden dock containing tasker tasks, most of which launch scenes. It probably achieves what you get with Swapps, although the dock is less customisable.

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    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Interesting, is that available from anywhere in Android?

      Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Was actually playing around with that for the purpose of doing this via a scene, but I never got it working the way I wanted. The UI is rather backwards, has been that since the beginning (used to use it on my tablet). Might play around with it some more

      Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      This works brilliantly, thank you! Got a ton of ideas for what I can do with this >:D

      Reply
      • Glad it works for you. The dev fixed quite a few things in recent updates, maybe that’s why it’s ok for you now.

        Anyway, waiting for the surely incoming post about it^^

        Reply
        • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

          Hehe, there will be one for sure. Doing this with a scene was my wish all along, but couldn’t get gesture control to work properly. LMT launcher does, and I’ve already started work on the scene I want for this. Opens up for 283462423 possibilities, so I need to sit down and think about how I want it to work. This is what I have so far, but it’s only a recreation of a sidebar- what comes next is where the usefulness of a scene comes in: http://t.co/chI2Rhltum

          Reply
          • Looks good.

            BTW, do you do all your Tasker “coding” on the device itself? I find this to be a tedious job on a phone and haven’t found a good remote app, yet. HDMI+OTG mouse/keyboard might be a choice, will try that. Though I’d wish there be some way to whip up tasks in – say – python and then export them to Tasker.

            BTW2, any insight on Joao’s AutoVoice and when it might hit the store? Wrote an email, but didn’t get a response or invite back, yet.

          • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

            I do all Tasker stuff on the phone. You should be able to do it all using javascript or whatever it is, though it’s something I’ve never looked into. I don’t find it n issue, aside from the memory leaks in tasker lately

            I’ll poke joaomgcd with a sharp stick to see if he can respond to you himself. He’s probably off somewhere inventing some new brilliant Tasker plugin

          • Meh, that comment-nesting limit really sucks :D

            Thanks for the tip on JS, not a language I’m currently capable of, but shouldn’t be to hard to learn.

            For now, I’m ending this nesting nightmare and go to bed, looking forward for your next post.

            Final question for today, do you know if there’s a Tasker related IRC channel somewhere(Groups isn’t really my cup of tea)?

        • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

          Yeah it’s a bit annoying. Not sure if there is an IRC channel, if so I doubt it’s very crowded. Maybe an idea for something to make and post about here, then maybe it would be ppossible to get something going.

          Btw see my last comment for an edited-in reply to the autovoice Q

          Reply
          • No biggy as far as Joao goes, also might be hard since this is my 2nd name and I mailed with my 1st and last name and not from this obvious fake address.

            So, really be now, gotta get up in 4h again :/

          • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

            There’s an IRC channel already, #tasker on freenode. Was in there for a bit last year IIRC but not much activity. Checking it out again now

    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Noticed now that I replied to the wrong comment yesterday; it was never Gesture Control I got working, it was LMT launcher. And it was the latest version of Gesture Control I used

      Reply
  • Unfortunately no, since it’s a feature of the launcher – so it would work only on the home screen.

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  • Quite right Andreas, it is NOT available everywhere. Just on the home screen.

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    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Ah, too bad. That kinda defeats the purpose IMHO

      Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      thanks, this did exactly what I wanted from the beginning!

      Reply
  • I use sidebar pro…but this sounds pretty useful!
    Swapps here I come
    Haven’t attempted to use nova launcher on the Evo LTE, but may give it a swing again after I try swapps.
    Thanks Andreas

    Reply
  • Andreas, you should give GMD another try. The UI improved to google holo style and I use it to launch all kinds of tasks myself (currently over 20 different gestures, more than 70% tasker tasks). In addition I, like Niclas, suggest trying out LMT Launcher, together with GMD I have a intuitive use of my device without fumbling with soft keys or home screen shortcuts or additional scenes which hold all these tasks.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      I’ll try them both. I would love to get this working with scenes, as I have some ideas as to what I could do with scenes that Swapps can’t do….

      Reply
  • Very nice! I will play with this a litte later…but do you think it would be possible to maybe do an android 4.2 esque notfications toggles with this? What I mean is that when notification shade is down, swipe right toggles show, swipe right back to notifications? Nice article! Andreas for President!

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Not quite sure I understand what you mean. Do you want the toggles to trigger when you swipe a notification?

      Reply
  • Something similar to the sidebar you’ve created can be achieved using swipe pad [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mobi.conduction.swipepad.android]. It’s full screen, rather than just a side bar, and opens by swiping over a user-definable hotspot. It allows you to add tasker shortcuts (to your tasker tasks).

    ]

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