Automating processes on your devices based on pre-set conditions is an interesting way to add extra features to your PC or smartphone as needed. Automate is a tool for Android that follows the IFTTT concept (‘if this, then that’), and allows you to set certain responses to specific events.
To understand how this concept works, you just have to have a look over a few of the ‘recipes’ included by default in the app. For example, it’s possible to set a command to take a photo with your device’s front camera when someone incorrectly puts in your unlock pattern. In other words, you can find out whenever anyone tries to access your device without your permission. Another trigger makes it so your device only searches for WiFi networks when your GPS system detects you’re at home, saving you battery by keeping your phone from constantly trying to detect nearby networks.
What’s really interesting about Automate is that you can create your own input and output systems based on an intuitive flowchart editor where you can create any structure as if it were a state machine. Thus, each node corresponds with an action that will emit different states. Less than 50% of battery on your smartphone? Then do this; if not, do something else. You don’t need to know anything about programming to be a visionary in electronics—just make a bit of use of your own ingenuity.
The difference here from the popular tool IFTTT is that IFTTT is limited to creating recipes based on triggers from software actions, while Automate expands its operations to features of your device itself. In other words, the trigger in IFTTT could be that someone gives you a Like on Facebook or you post a photo on Instagram, while Automate goes much further with variables like taking a photo, the amount of space available on your device’s memory, or a movement you make with the phone.
This breadth and depth of possibility is both its greatest asset and its biggest risk, as the resources and actions can make changes on your device when you don’t even realize what’s happening. What Automate does do very intelligently is separate the permissions required by the app to make certain changes to different app modules that you’ll need to download separately from the app itself—meaning if you’re going to create a recipe that requires permission to modify the network options or phone settings, you’ll be aware of it.