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Aviating with Tasker

[G+] Aviating with Tasker

I’ve been playing with #Aviate the last several days and it’s not bad. I installed it on both my Galaxy Nexus and my Nexus 7 even though the FAQ is very clear that it is not optimized for tablets. I’ll do my best to limit my comments to the experience I’ve had on my phone.

I really like the idea of making our devices more contextual and Aviate in its current state is a good first swing at bringing that idea to an Android launcher. The problem is that not everyone breaks their lives into the same set of contexts. Aviate has environments for “Home”, “Work”, “Morning”, “Night”, and “Going Somewhere” and tries to switch between them automatically based on time of day and your location. For most people that may be fine, but it doesn’t jive too well with how I structure my life.

Aviate apparently uses location to decide whether you’re at home or at work. But I work from home, so I have to manually tell Aviate when I’m “at work”. “Morning” and “Night” are time based, but I haven’t found a way to change the times they (de)activate. For some people, “Morning” may be from 6 to 8 when they wake up until they leave for work. For me, “Morning” is from 8 to 9 when I wake up until I sit down at my desk. So I find myself doing a lot of manual switching between contexts, but the time based contexts are not always available. I can manually switch between the location based contexts (“Home”, “Work”, and “Going Somewhere”) at will, but “Morning” and “Night” are only available during their preset times.

Aviate has a minimal, flat look to it. I like that, but they removed so much clutter that it started to impact functionality. You can’t set wallpaper on your home screens. Instead, Aviate gives you a photo widget that you can use to display a picture on your home screen. The problem is that if you choose to set a photo, you can’t do anything else with that space. Nothing is allowed to appear above that photo.

Widgets also don’t make very good use of space in many cases. When you add a widget to your Aviate home screen, it uses the full width of your screen regardless of how wide the widget was designed to be. That can waste a lot of horizontal space depending on which widgets you use. I’ve also run into a few vertical spacing issues with widgets appearing taller than they should. Aviate is a young product and these are things that will get worked out in time, so I can’t ding them too hard for this.

I’d like to see battery level added to the header area alongside the date and time. I’m one of those people for whom the little battery meter in the notification bar is not enough and I find myself frequently pulling down the settings panel to see the actual charge percentage.

Despite the minor flaws of a young product, Aviate is a useful tool and I have found it streamlining my workflow in a number of scenarios since I started using it. But the control freak in me wants more.

Enter #Tasker

As I was ruminating on the idea of Aviate this weekend and some of the ways that I wished it could be made to integrate better into the way I contextualize my life, I had a bit of a brainstorm. Could I build a better (for me) Aviate using Tasker? 

I haven’t worked through the implementation fully, but I have gotten far enough to be reasonably confident that it can work. Aviate basically presents you with different home screens for different times, locations, and activities. That idea is actually very simple to replicate using Tasker. I use Nova Launcher, but this should work with the stock Android launcher as well. All I did was setup a different home screen in Nova Launcher for each of the contexts I wanted to work in. Then, using Takser’s “Go Home” action, I can automatically switch to the appropriate context based on time or location just like Aviate does. And with Tasker I can also switch contexts based on a host of other criteria: NFC tags, screen orientation, incoming notifications, light level, whether the device is docked or charging. You could really get creative.

via [G+] https://plus.google.com/108736442397346150027/posts/bpgffbjXXcE