One of the awesome things about Android is that you can customise it how you want and not how that floppy-shoe-wearing-control-freak Steve Jobs decides. There are various apps out there designed to let you change various settings and run various things based on various conditions. The most well known is locale, which was and is very popular, although the $10 cost of moving from the free 0.X beta to v1.X with a subsequent loss of function p!ssed a lot of people off! There are also two main competitors that I know of, Setting Profiles and Tasker. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses, some of which I will go through now.
locale is generally pretty cool, yes, it is pretty expensive for an app, I think they kinda got greedy there, but it still works very well. Recent changes seem to have drastically improved battery life and it is very easy to set up.
You create a new situation, by first adding a condition, such as a time of day, your location (based either on GPS, WiFi or cellular) or orientation.
Then, you add a setting, some of which you can see from the screenie on the right. The cool thing is that locale operates a rather awesome plugin system, allowing you to expand the settings you can change and conditions that you can set. There are loads of plugins available on the market, some free, some paid. They allow you to enable and disable syc, give you fine control over volumes and even make http GET and POST requests, for example. My main gripe with locale is that to get decent functionality out of it, you have to use lots of different plugins, each one using up additional memory. On it’s own, locale doesn’t have that many options, which is a shame. Secondly, in order for it not to be shut down by Android, it leaves a notification icon in the taskbar. Some people find this very annoying, I personally find it useful since it means you can check what locale is doing. Oh, and also that it’s name is in italics 😉
The next app, Setting Profiles, is pretty similar to locale, but it doesn’t rely on a plugin infrastructure so much, having many more built in settings. The setup is very similar to locale, in that you create a profile, based on various conditions, of which there are many more than in the default version of locale. Then, you create rules that that profile will run, the rules can either be changing various settings (on the right), of which there are more options than in default locale, or running an app or posting a message. Overall, there are more built-in options and settings than in locale, making it more flexible. My only gripe with Settings Profile is that it doesn’t come with integration with Astrid, the awesome task (to-do) manger. Also, since it can’t be expanded with plugins, you are limited to the in-built features, though it does integrate with some other apps, such as APNdroid.
Tasker is the final app in this showdown and one that I am least familiar with, having only used it for a few days. It is free, but still in beta and not yet available on the market. It seems there are plans to make it available on the market and for a price similar to Setting Profiles (so about half the cost of locale). It operates in a similar way to the other two, in that you set up profiles based on various conditions and then each profile carries out various actions. What is AWESOME about Tasker, is that is has so many built in conditions and actions, apparently it has almost 100 built in actions (see right), PLUS, it uses the locale API, so it can use locale plugins as well. For me, it is by far the most powerful out of the three and I have only begun to scratch the surface with it. However, I have found that not all the locale plugins work (for example the ASE and Astrid plugin) but I think these are known issues.
Overall, if I had to choose one, it is Tasker, which is the one I am currently using. It seems to have the most potential, the dev has lots of ToDos which all seem interesting and it is the most flexible. This isn’t to say the other two aren’t great, both locale and Setting Profiles are powerful good apps, I just prefer all the options that Tasker gives me. So, thumbs up to Tasker.