With the advancement of technology, current smartphones easily boast of multiple cores in their CPU, armed with multiple sensors **cough** Samsung **cough** and equipped with few GB of RAMS. However, many of us are still manually doing tasks on our smartphones that are perfectly capable of being automated for the sake of simplicity. Take for example the daily act of turning on mobile data to use Waze for navigating the horrendous traffic jam to your workplace, silencing your phone when you step into your office and turning on WiFi to use your company’s WiFi. Every morning we are doing the same set of actions. What if all those actions can be done without you even touching your smartphone?
Welcome to the world of automation apps ladies and gentlemen. Today I would like to introduce an automation app called Macrodroid developed by ArloSoft. The main feature of the app is that you can create macros to automate certain tasks in your smartphone with the limit being as far as your creativity can traverse. It certainly is an exciting app, do grab a coffee while I give you a tour of the app.
Macrodroid actually has a very nice colourful interface. Users are greeted with 6 main blocks which are pretty self-explanatory. You have the Macros block, which store your list of macros in their respective categories. Add Macro block for you to add new macros, Templates block which contains sample macros for beginners and Setting block for additional settings. The last two blocks are Forum and Export/Import. You can actually go to the forum to ask questions and to discuss your macros with other users. It is actually a quite lively forum maintained by the developer himself. Export/Import block allows you to save your list of macros if you happen to change phone/ROM. You can also export your macros through email to the developer for debugging if you so happen to find one.
P.S: You can remove the icon at the notification bar by disabling it in the notification bar option in the setting if you feel that it is bothering you. However, it is not encouraged to do so as it functions as a flag for Android to keep it alive as long as possible. Hence, the app might misbehave if you choose to disable the icon.
Creating Your Own Macro(s)
So what constitutes a macro? A macro actually consists of 3 parts, Trigger(s), Action(s) and Constraint(s). Trigger is what sets off the macro to do the Action you specified the macro to do. An example would be to turn on mobile data(Action) when you launch Waze(Trigger). Constraint refers to an event that can be set to be evaluated at the point of trigger to determine if the macro should be fired. Using the same example, you can set the macro to only run on weekdays (Constraint).
To create your own macro, you simply need to pick a trigger, couple it with the action that you want. You can be more specific by applying some constraints to your created macro. To date, Macrodroid has over 45 triggers, 70 actions and 25 constraints and I believe the list will keep increasing. Do take note that some of the options require you to have root access on your smartphone for the macros to work. Each macro can consist of several triggers, actions and constraints if you purchase the pro version. For the free version, you are entitled to 5 custom macros and each macro can only have one action and one constraint.
Now I am going to share with you guys on a few macros that are my daily drivers. I am using the pro version hence I am able to have multiple actions & constraints per macro. Feel free to take my macros as a template or you can edit them to your preference. For me, I normally use Waze to check on the traffic on the way to work. I would like to automatically turn on mobile data when I launch the app. I also need to enable auto rotate as my car mount is actually horizontal. Hence it has the following setting:
Many people silent their phone upon reaching company and enable their WiFi to search for company’s WiFi. What if one day you so happen to forget to silent your smartphone and your mum decided to call you while you are actually in the midst of an important meeting? Sounds far-fetched but trust me it can happen (speaking from experience here). Personally I feel that it is a bit redundant for us to do the same task day in day out. Hence, I have another macro to help me with this. I am using cell tower as a trigger. Basically, I can set a macro to detect the cell tower that my smartphone is currently connected to. When it detects that I am connected the cell tower available at my workplace, it will automatically set my phone on vibrate, turn off my mobile data and enabled WiFi. The constraints can be set to actually allow this macro to run only on weekdays from 7 am to 5 pm and only after you have turned off your Waze (assuming that you also use Waze to go to work!). You can also set another macro to automate the opposite tasks (turn off vibrate and WiFi, turn on mobile data and etc) after you have left your workplace. Here is a screenshot of the macro:
I also like the fact that I can create custom widgets to simplify certain tasks. For your information, ever since I upgraded my smartphone to Android 5.0, I need to actually pull down the notification bar, click on the mobile data icon and confirm that I would like to enable my mobile data. Such a pain in the neck if you just want to enable mobile data to check on certain things. With Macrodroid, I can actually create a custom toggle so that mobile data can be enabled with just a tap on the widget at my homescreen. Please take note that this specific toggle requires root access but you can still create widgets for other actions.
There are still a lot of things that you can do with Macrodroid. You can set a macro to ring at the loudest volume upon receiving a message if you so happen to misplaced your smartphone. Besides that, you can create another macro to wipe all your personal data if your phone is stolen. The possibility is endless. The fun part is to explore and see if the macro you created has the intended effect. If you ever hit any stumbling blocks, just post at the forums provided. Other users will gladly help you with your problem. You can also choose to approach the developer at email@example.com and he will definitely attend to your queries (which is one of the main reasons why I bought the app).
Battery and RAM Usage
Normally this kind of app will lead to battery drain and uses a huge amount of RAM. However to my surprise, throughout my usage of the app, I have never seen the RAM usage goes up to more than 110MB. This is in my opinion an acceptable amount due to the ongoing macros that I have set. Battery life has also not taken a hit after I installed this app. Even if there is, it is a very negligible hit. However, the battery usage might vary depending on the type of macros that you have set. If you frequently involve GPS or location setting in your macros, then do expect a more significant battery drain.
Fun fact: Facebook normally uses about twice the RAM compared to that of Macrodroid.
Macrodroid is a wonderful app if you are into automating your smartphone. It is even more useful if your smartphone is rooted. While the pro version might be a little expensive at 11 MYR (partly due to the current exchange rate), I believe the sheer capability of this app makes the price you paid worth it. Furthermore, it has good support so you do not have to worry about wasting your money. Personally it is money well spent for my case as I really enjoyed tweaking my smartphone with this app. It gives me the feeling that my phone is actually working for me according to my preference and not the other way round.
There are dozens of apps of similar type at the Google Play Store, namely Tasker, Llama, IF and etcetera. For some of the readers, you guys might have heard of Tasker for Android. It has been there for some time. While Tasker can automate practically anything you can think of, the common complaint is that it is too difficult to pick up as the user interface is not friendly enough for amateurs. However, for those who are daring to try it out, there are plenty of written and video guides around as long as you are patient enough to dig around. But do bear in mind that it is not a free app. For IF, it can be a good companion app to use together with Macrodroid. IF focusses more on automation on app level while Macrodroid is more towards the system level. Llama is good but it has not been updated for nearly a year and thus hindered by the limitations posed by the previous version of Android; furthermore the user interface is not very attractive in my opinion. However, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I encourage you guys to explore and to see which app suits your preference and needs.
That’s all for now. Feel free to comment your opinion or question beneath and I will try my best to answer you. See you guys in the next review. Cheers!