Android Automation Showdown: IFTTT Vs. Tasker
Wouldn’t it be cool if your phone knew to go to airplane mode when you go to the theater, or text your spouse when you leave work? IFTTT and Tasker can automate countless such tasks to turn your phone into an attentive personal assistant. Today we will put them both in the ring to see which one will make your life easier.
One of the biggest benefits of Android is that you can customize it to your liking. This doesn’t just mean that you can change the font or use a different application launcher . It’s child’s play. Automation apps can do everything from turning off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when the battery is low, to turning your phone into a voice-activated remote control for your living room . Today we’re going to take a look at two of the most powerful automation tools for Android:
- IFTTT : IFTTT is a web service that links other services you use every day, such as Evernote, Gmail, or Dropbox, with simple instructions called “recipes.” A recipe consists of a trigger, such as receiving an attachment in Gmail, and an action, such as saving the attachment to Dropbox. Each service has its own trigger and action channel . The IF app for Android adds several channels specific to your phone that allow you to trigger actions based on where you are when you receive a phone call or your phone’s battery level . You can then perform actions such as changing your system settings , sending texts, or even setting a new wallpaper . For example, you can tell IFTTT to automatically update the wallpaper with the latest NASA image of the day . IFTTT isn’t limited to Android, which means your phone can easily connect to the rest of your digital life.
- Tasker : Tasker is a rule-based automation app for Android. With it, you can create “profiles” depending on which application is running, what day it is or where you are. Tasker then monitors your phone to see when these conditions are met. As soon as they appear, it can launch “tasks” for things like sending texts, changing settings on your phone, or playing music. For example, you can tell Tasker to turn on airplane mode when you are in the GPS location of your favorite movie theater. Third-party plugins like AutoVoice allow you to further extend the capabilities of Tasker.
The examples we have provided only scratch the surface of what these two services can do. If you’re unsure of where to start, you can check out our Tasker readers’ favorites here . IFTTT also has a huge library of recipes that you can browse if you don’t know how to make your own. You can continue the work that many fearless customizers have already done to get your phone to do some pretty amazing things.
IFTTT is easier to use but limited, while Tasker is powerful with a steep learning curve
If we were to compare Tasker and IFTTT for ease of use alone, IFTTT would have won without a competition. IFTTT recipes are built around a simple, familiar programming phrase: If this, then . If your phone leaves home, turn off Wi-Fi. If Google Calendar says you’re in a meeting, mute your phone. This simplicity, combined with the app’s gorgeous and accessible design, allows just about anyone to automate simple tasks.
On top of that, IFTTT already has a huge library of published recipes from existing users. Here you can browse the library , select the recipe you like and click “Add”. Boom, done. All you need to do is install the IF Android app and connect various services to IFTTT. Even for beginners, it couldn’t be easier.
Tasker is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Tasker interface is much more complex and the app contains only the most basic tutorials. We have our own guide to help you get started. You will also need the official Tasker wiki to understand the many features of the application. There are also Tasker-focused user communities that can provide templates to automate certain actions, and you’ve also shared some of your favorite actions, but if you can’t find an existing action for what you want to accomplish, you’re on your own. Unfortunately, living on your own takes a lot of trial and error, research, and troubleshooting. While you don’t have to be a programmer to use Tasker, it will at least help you understand the logic behind how simple task automation works. This is more than IFTTT demands from its users.
Once you get past the Tasker learning curve, however, your reward for climbing that hill is totally worth it. With Tasker you can do with your phone almost anything. For example, this person has set up voice commands with Tasker to control their lights, TV, and home theater. Another developed an impromptu one-handed operation for giant phones . You can use Tasker and several plugins to create your own voice commands for everything Tasker can do . Most of them cannot be set up in five minutes, but Tasker is only limited by how much time you are willing to spend on it.
IFTTT, on the other hand, doesn’t offer that much flexibility. You only have a small set of Android actions and triggers to choose from. For example, you can change the wallpaper on your phone, play music on your phone or from your favorite apps, and change other system settings like volume, Wi-Fi, etc. Unfortunately, you cannot do more complex things that is capable of Tasker, for example, to create its own voice commands. In fact, you can’t even create IFTTT recipes with multiple triggers or actions. For example, let’s say you want to create an action to find your lost phone by sending a text message to it, even if it’s disconnected. You can create one recipe to trigger the sound on your phone, and you can create a separate recipe to play the notification sound, but you cannot trigger both actions in the same recipe. This can get complicated if you want to perform two actions from the same trigger, since you cannot determine in which order the recipes are executed.
Luckily, you don’t have to use just one or the other (and we’ll come back to that), but for those who like to tweak their settings, Tasker offers much more direct control. IFTTT is ideal for beginners or users who only want to complete simple tasks.
Tasker plugins give it new possibilities, and IFTTT can connect to all your favorite services
Tasker and IFTTT are highly extensible, but in very different ways. Tasker supports third-party plugins that add new features, and IFTTT connects to third-party online services to expand its functionality. Let’s start with Tasker. Here are a few of our favorite and most useful Tasker plugins:
- AutoVoice : This plugin allows you to create your own voice commands to trigger Tasker actions. For example, in the home automation setup we mentioned earlier, one Tasker user used AutoVoice to create a “I’m at home” voice command that turns on all the lights in his house. It even integrates with Google Now, so you can easily use your own commands just like you use Ok, Google.
- AutoRemote : This plugin, in combination with AutoVoice, allows you to run your own voice commands with Cortana in Windows 10. So you can run the I’m Home command from the last example while sitting at your desk instead of having to pull out your phone. AutoRemote will simply redirect the command to your phone and Tasker will pick it up from there.
- AutoNotification : With this plugin, you can create persistent notifications on your phone. Here you can add buttons to manually trigger Tasker actions. For example, you can create an activity that turns off GPS and Bluetooth and turns on Wi-Fi. When you get home, simply press this button to save your phone battery on services it may not need.
Third party plugins are responsible for helping Tasker learn many new skills since its inception. While you can do some cool things with the basic Tasker app, it’s hard to deny that adding voice commands or Cortana support is pretty cool. You can find other plugins on the developer’s website here .
For its part, IFTTT has no plugins, but connects to other supported online services. This means you can change your phone’s wallpaper by posting on Instagram, or turn on smart lighting in your home when you get home. You can check out the huge list of IFTTT channels here . We can’t highlight everything you could do with them, but there are a few that are particularly useful:
- Amazon Alexa Channel : If you have an Amazon Echo, this channel triggers actions on your Android device remotely using Alexa. You can use this to turn on the sound and locate your phone if you’ve lost it (although, as we stated earlier, you may need two separate recipes for this). You can also use the create command to turn on your phone’s GPS so you can ask Alexa to do this before you leave for work, instead of fiddling with settings in your driveway.
- Connected Home: IFTTT has an impressive collection of connected home channels. If you have WeMo , D-Link , Harmony or Nest smart home gadgets , you can easily connect them to IFTTT, and with Android channels, you can use your phone to turn on the lights when you get home, or change the thermostat when are you going.
- Pushbullet : Pushbullet is a great service that lets you push messages and files from one device to another. You can already use it to bridge the gap between phone, laptop and tablet . With IFTTT Pushbullet, you can do even more, like getting notifications to your computer if you miss a phone call or if your phone’s battery is low.
These are just a few examples, but you can see how non-Android channels can be useful.
Tasker and IFTTT are similar to chocolate and peanut butter: good separately, but better together
So after all this, which one is better? Well, neither one nor the other! Tasker is ideal for creative and complex activities, and IFTTT serves as a link between your phone and various other services. When you use each of them for their intended purpose, you can do some pretty amazing things.
For example, you can use Tasker to create a custom voice command that will send a text message to IFTTT, which will then turn on your WeMo light switch. You can only use Tasker for this, but it’s more complicated . By using both services together, you can do even more amazing things with your phone with even less effort.