By: Gigaom
October 03, 2012 at 15:14 PM EDT
Make your Android phone smarter in 5 minutes with Atooma
One benefit of Android phones is the ability for users and apps to access the phone's sensors and controls to make things automatically happen. Apps to help with this automation can be complex and intimidating. Not Atooma: I had it making magic in just five minutes.

Often when comparing Android and iOS, folks will point out that Android phones are more customizable. They don’t just mean with wallpapers and such, however. Users and apps can take finer control of the phone’s settings or read sensors to fire off events. Call it “smart customization” if you will. Apps such as Locale and Tasker are prime examples, but they can be overwhelming to use at first. Atooma is a new beta app in Google Play that I think nearly any Android device owner can use it for the same customization and control in a few short minutes.

Atooma UIWhat makes Atooma different is the simplicity of its approach. It uses an IFTTT approach, which is short for “if this, then that.” You simply have to tell the app what to do in the case of a certain event. Here’s how Atooma describes it: “Create your Atooma to get any kind of tasks automagically performed on your smartphone. You can set up conditional events (IF) that trigger simple actions (DO).”

The interface to do this in Atooma is extremely intuitive. Starting with a few colored dots that represent different conditions, customize the events and then select actions in a circular user interface. It’s almost like dialing up short automaton script with an old rotary phone.

Turn WiFi off when leaving home ruleHow does it work? So far, quite well for me. I created some simple scripts myself, but you can see other scripts that fellow Atooma users have created. I found one to “turn Wi-Fi off when leaving home”, which I downloaded. All I needed to do was change the event location to my house — which was simple using a maps interface — and that was it. To test it, I walked about 200 meters down the street and just like that, my Wi-Fi radio automatically shut down. I already had a script to turn it on when arriving home and Atooma did just that when I returned from the walk.

That’s just a simple — but useful — example, of course. You can fire off events if a file is downloaded or deleted (handy for an automatic upload to Dropbox), for example, take action upon incoming texts, emails or calls, or automatically send a tweet or Facebook message in a particular event.

Similar the Wi-Fi rule, I’ve already set up Atooma to turn on my Bluetooth radio when I leave home. I seem to forget to do so when going out for a drive; I’d rather use a Bluetooth headset in the car. And I noticed another user set up a rule to read incoming text messages aloud when the GPS radio detected he was traveling faster than a certain speed and presumably driving. Essentially, user actions are only limited by what events and hardware Atooma supports and your imagination.

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