Last week on our Android customization series, we looked at an app or two that bypasses the removed widgets from your lock screen in Android Lollipop. We brought widgets back by placing them inside of notifications.
While this was happening it occurred to us, why should we spend money on a new app when we’ve already paid for Tasker, which can do nearly the same thing? And so, I give you today, Tasker notifications on your Android Lollipop lock screen.
Before we begin
The obvious requirement today is an Android 5.x Lollipop powered phone or tablet. I know that at least 12% of you have the update already, and more arrive daily. From there, you will also need your very own copy of Tasker. If you’ve been following this series for a while, you probably already have Tasker purchased, if not installed, and if you do not, Tasker can be had for $2.49 in the Google Play Store.
Fair warning, with Google I/O, Lenovo Tech World and Computex all occurring since we met last week, I feel like I did not get the time to bring you great visuals this week, we’ll plow through the steps and get you going, but you may need to employ your own sense of finesse to get the most out of today.
To get Tasker actions onto your lock screen is going to be a little bit easier than you might imagine. Android Lollipop already places notifications onto your lock screen, it is merely a matter of ensuring that your settings allow the notification to show and that we set the notification as permanent so that it remains running for you.
Wouldn’t you know it, we’ve created Tasker notifications in the past, feel free to give that a look, or follow along as we make a crude notification below.
Open Tasker and head to the Tasks tab.
Tap the “+” add button to create a new Task.
Name your Task appropriately. Remember that it should be nice and concise, I’ll break that rule just a little bit and call mine “LockscreenNotification.”
Tap the “+” add button to add an action to your Task.
Provide a memorable Title. It does not need to be special, but it will display on your notification and you will need to remember it exactly for later. I’ve given my title as “Tasker on lockscreen“.
Leave Text empty for now, I’ll explain later.
Tap the icon button beside Icon to choose an icon for your notification. This is the image that will show in your notification bar at the top of the screen.
Scroll down and turn on Permanent. You can experiment without this setting, but you will get better results on the lock screen with it turned on.
Finally, tap the “+” add button within Actions to add other Tasker Tasks to this notification. This is where the magic happens, so take your time and choose wisely the maximum three actions per Tasker notification that you want available on your lock screen.
For today, I have chosen two simple convenience actions, then I used the third slot to create a close button for the notification. As follows:
Play music button
First, I created a quick music play button. Audio controls will show on the lock screen once music is playing, but this button will allow me to fire up the music if it is not already going. Just be sure that you have your queue in good order before you go blaring inappropriate tunes.
To create the music play button, tap the Action button on the right. Tap Media. Tap Media Control. Change Next to Toggle Pause. Hit your system Back button to save and exit.
Take a photo button
Second, I created a quick photo button. My phone does not have a fancy gesture or button combination to quickly fire up the camera app, so I will do it with a button here. I have already created a picture taking Task in a previous project, so I simply want to call that Task here, instead of re-creating it.
To call an existing Task, tap the Action button on the right to get started. Tap Tasks. Tap Perform Task. In the Name field, tap the magnifying glass icon to choose a Task from your existing library. My old Task was named QualityPhoto, but you go ahead and choose any previous Task in your list. Then tap the system Back button to save and exit.
Close notification button
My third action is a simple close button for the notification. This is required because I do not always want the notification running, but because I set it to Permanent above, it won’t just swipe away, you’ll need an actual close button.
To create a close button, tap the Action button on the right. Tap Alert. Tap Notify Cancel. In the Title field, you will need to enter exactly the name of your notification, mine was called “Tasker on lockscreen.” It is case sensitive and all that, so I like to turn on the Warn Not Exist option, just for testing purposes. Tap the system Back button once again to save and exit.
Before we leave here, you have the option to add icons to each of the three actions, as well as enter label text. Although these are not required steps, I recommend using at least one of the two, just something to help remember what does what later. Just make sure your labels are as short as possible, they get cut off after just a few characters.
Hit that system Back button to save and exit out of this Action.
You see now your simple Tasker Task to fire up a permanent notification on your device. Go ahead and hit that ‘play’ icon in the bottom left of your screen to give it a go.
You’ll now see your Tasker notification up in the notification bar and when you pull down the notification shade you’ll be able to hit your buttons. This remains true when you next turn on your device, providing this same notification right on your lock screen. Again, I apologize that mine is a little sloppy, please look past that and enjoy the functionality.
Of course, you are going to need to provide a way to fire up this notification on your device. You could get clever and create a Tasker Profile that watches for when your display turns on, myself, I’m in a rush and have some space left on one of my Homescreens. I’ve added an icon to my Task and simply dropped a Tasker Task widget that I can click whenever I want the notification to run.
Boom, just like that I have quick access to start my music or take a photo using my Tasker built Quick Photo Task, all without having to unlock the device.
But wait, I have fancy device info showing on my notification. Remember how I told you earlier that I would explain the Text field in the Notification settings? This is what it does for you. Of course, you could just copy my string of text from image way above, including Tasker variables to pull in the device info, or you can get creative and piece together your own string. Just remember that it is just one short line of text, so you’ll again have to choose carefully what little info you wish to see.
The last thing I want to discuss is something I mentioned briefly last week. If the limitations of only three items and just a short snippet of text is not going to cut it for you, you can start combining tools here to make something truly unique and powerful. Simply put, you can embed Tasker Tasks and collected system info into icons and text on a Zooper Widget, and from there you can embed a Zooper Widget into a Notifidgets notification. This allows you to put nearly limitless info and action buttons on your lock screen, if you don’t mind combining three paid apps to get there.
Man, that got intense at the end, certainly, putting a simple Tasker notification on your lock screen is a good Android customization, but loading up Tasker into Zooper into Notifidgets is a little crazy. Next week I’d like to take a little look at two competing apps that I find crucial to my mobile computing experience, let’s call it a remote desktop app shootout, of sorts.
What do you think, can you live with a simple Tasker notification as a custom info and action tool on your Lollipop lock screen?