04
Dec
9

Whenever the discussion of apps with bad UI comes up, Tasker - powerful as it may be - is always one of the first to be mentioned. Because, let's face it, it's pretty hideous. In the early days of Android, this wasn't much of an issue, as there was no standard UI. Or, you know, the Android Style Guide. In the past year or so, though, Google has really been pushing a the clean look of ICS+, Holo, and a consistent experience across applications.

Since Tasker is one of the most popular, yet not-so-easy-on-the-eyes applications out there, the Android team decided to demonstrate how great the app could look on this week's Android Design in Action, and the result is fantastic. The first 20 minutes or so of the video are dedicated to the re-theming of Tasker, so you can check that out to see it all in action. Otherwise, just take a look at the shots down below.

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At this point, I think there's only one thing left to say: Want. So. Hard.

If Tasker looked like this, I could see myself using it a lot more. Gimme.

[via Reddit; images via Roman Nurik G+]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I know the Tasker dev is aware of the UI issues, and these are some great ideas. I'm also sure he's got some of his own. The question is: does he care? Does he care at all to devote any time into Tasker's UI (it's a huge undertaking, I'm sure) as opposed to augmenting functionality and fixing bugs?

    I have my doubts. But I really hope he can dedicate some time to it, including hiring a UI designer and a UX analyst, and do the redesign right.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

      I made one of the first Boot Animation Changer apps for 2.0+ phones and the UI has definitely evolved a great deal. When it first started, it was the ugly Android black and white list with many animations, then 2.3 came out and I tried to make my own custom UI, it was a little fancier but still very ugly looking. A couple months after the release of ICS and its many guidelines to UI, I re-made the entire UI (and the app too) to make it look so much nicer and easier to use. My point here, should've started with this, is that re-doing the entire thing meant re-organizing and doing such thing allowed me to fix bugs along the way and honestly I felt so much better about my code after finishing it.

      • Brian Inglut

        Whats your app?

        • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

          Type in boot animation changer, it's the first one, I'd just like to say that the animations on the list aren't updated much, I mainly keep it up there for older phones and also the pro version has the import function.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/psycho_maniac_ Jerry Lange

      I don't think he cares to be honest.

    • Marcus

      He should just take the layout Google mocked-up!

    • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

      He's been working on the UI rework for a couple weeks. He's also watched both the Android Design in Action video and also the App Clinic video. This video sparked quite a bit of discussion on his user group.

    • http://www.facebook.com/galin.v.georgiev Galin Velinov Georgiev

      holo design is ugly

  • zer0sIx

    i hope Tasker will consider this awesome design!

  • chokkan

    This app deserves so much more from the UI. It is an example of what is right and wrong with Android in many ways. The app is so powerful, but it really isn't something every Android user would be able to use.

  • Lox_knc

    Next: Ttanium Backup

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yes please. I'd love that Holo in TB.

      • coversnails

        Whats not Holo about TB though, its pretty much there, it doesn't have tabs across the top but everthing else looks reasonable?

        • ranova

          it has some holo elements, but overall the design is lazy and still really ugly. The popup toast notifications still have the old pirate document look. The tabs at the top are still rounded. I dont really mind that much since Im not in the app everyday.

          • Jeffrey Matthews

            You can change that in the settings. Overflow/menu button > Preferences > GUI Preferences > Toast Notification theme

          • Reginald Spence II

            Yeah, whenever I install a new ROM and run TB for the first time, that's the first thing I change. I cannot stand that "parchment" toast notification theme. UGH.

      • sphynx

        https://plus.google.com/u/0/102276001334523769733/posts/AncDyV7h9En

        This. There are some comments about it by the devs of TB underneath as well

    • Robert Blenkinsopp

      I really want this to happen. Everytime I use TB (which is a lot), I get an urge to mock up a Holo UI for it... That and Steam for Android.

  • Thiago Henrique Santos

    Funny... Before even know about this article I gave Tasker a shot... Played with the app for 10 minutes and asked for a refund...

    The UI is just confuse, I could'nt grasp the potential that the app have and found difficult to understand how it could improve my Android experience... Just by looking to these UI's proposals now I immediately understand the app better ... Really guys, the day Tasker implement something like this, I'll pay happy for the app again... The way it is now, just by look at it I feel tired and not interested in understand the app.

  • http://twitter.com/bat0nas Tomas Misevičius

    Hi,
    Anybody is using Llama?
    I havent used Tasker. But what the video says about Tasker is totally the same what Llama can offer. And Llama is free.

    What are your thoughts about the current versions of Tasker vs. Llama?

    • Freak4Dell

      I haven't used Llama, but from what I hear, Tasker has more capability. For the basic stuff, both will work just fine.

    • cabbott9

      I have both Llama and Tasker. The only reason I got Tasker was because the NFC app I use can run Tasker Tasks to make more complicated tags. Personally Llama was much easier to pick up and functions great.

      I agree with Thiago that the app is too confusing and it took me too long to grasp it's potential. By the time I'd figured it out I had Llama tricked out and was too lazy to switch everything. Now I'm a diehard Llama user.

      • Gaurav

        Tried out Tasker but got confused. Llama is simpler and does the job for me.

        • Mario Miniaci

          Llama is great and has served me well for the past 2 years. However it's a 'gateway app' in that if you use it heavily you might graduate to needing Tasker features. I would love to see them merge, with Llama being the 'Easy' mode and Tasker being the 'Advanced' mode.

          • Dave O

            Much agreed there, so long as Pent isn't left to make any executive decisions! Tasker used to have more easy-mode interactive functions which were subsequently dropped when the much more powerful (but insanely tedious) "Scenes" functions were introduced. He essentially decided to burn these easier functions rather than fix their bugs, then he threw the Java tools at us and said "here they are, code it yourself!", and every change since has been that nasty sort of a downgrade more than an upgrade! When you pay for customization tools, you should not need to invest the time of an app dev just to make use of them!

    • Patrickl69

      I tried Tasker, but I switched back to Llama. Tasker is a nightmare to get anything basic done. If you want ridiculously complex scenario's I'll bet Tasker will give you more options, but for 99% of the tasks Llama is the better option

      I paid for both BTW. It's really just a little bit o money, so why not support these devs?

      • Dave O

        I paid for Tasker, and I would donate more money if he showed a bit more respect for his users. Tasker used to have more easily accessed interactive functions under the "Alerts" category, and all of them which ever displayed decently were removed when he introduced that "Scenes" idea. Only one with the patience of a dev can make good use of Scenes, and nobody should be left with what takes a couple days (depending on the quality of your scene) to produce one interactive widget as the only option for anything decent. For this reason I will be looking to the Llama.

    • Jimmy Li

      Ditto on Llama. Great icon to boot! :) I tried tasker way back in the beginning of last year but was indeed very complicated and complex. The ui wasn't intuitive and when I tried Llama, I was hooked in 5 mins. Llama was so much simpler. You make a bunch of conditions, and according to those you trigger the actions/tasks. Awesome IMO. I paid for llama and would try this "new" tasker whenever it comes to fruition.

    • NikhilW

      A year ago, before buying tasker I had tried a bunch of automation apps. Llama became my favourite amongst the free ones. But once I checked tasker, watched a couple videos read reviews, bought tasker and never looked back since. Honesty, I feel tasker is a platform or a coding language not just an app. Looks don't concern me much as long as the ui is usable and it is. Not to say I won't like a nicer ui! :-)

    • Dave O

      Download credits in Google Play are about even at 100,000, and that means the Llama side must have some happy users. I have been using Tasker for years, and I have gone to the trouble of learning it's functions, and then the new ones (Scenes) which displaced older and easier functions. Some day I am going to teach myself Java and write my own apps from scratch, with no limits other than those of the language which millions of programmers have made their fortunes by, but until then I see no sense in spending as much time on one silly widget which had to be created within Pent's fishbowl. When I need certain customizations today, and not next month, Tasker is MUCH TOO SLOW, and it gets worse with every "upgrade"! For this reason, I will be giving the Llama a try.

  • Freak4Dell

    I'm not very big on demanding a good UI for an app where the UI doesn't play a huge role in the functionality of it, but wow, that looks good. I had just mentioned Tasker a few days ago when everybody was ragging on that Microsoft app for its ugly UI, and clearly, I wasn't the only one who thought that Tasker's UI was terrible.

  • http://twitter.com/arcarbonaro Anthony Carbonaro

    Damn Google you so fine.

  • ConCal

    YES! Please take heed Tasker folks!

  • cy_n_ic

    Google showing how they can do it more better than you?Kinda like a slap in the face

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Well, that's a pretty closed minded view at what's happening.

    • chokkan

      That's not what is going on at all. This is the latest in a series of shows where they offer advice and guidance on why things work, and how to follow the design guidelines. The channel also invites developers back to give their opinions on what the guys say about their apps. Peer review is incredibly valuable.

      • Dave O

        Sorry, but these Google fashionistas really should not be handing out advice on apps for which they don't even understand the half of it's functions. They ignored the evermore important "Scenes" function which any decent interactive widgetry is now dependent on with this app, and it was those very functions which were so sloppily overhauled that you can't even see the control buttons now!

  • Tim Peyton

    I don't mean to be mean, but if the dev actually did all this, I would actually buy the app in a heartbeat. Don't get me wrong, I could use the app as is, but I'm not one for stumbling around in menus on my phone. I mean, I do that at computers all day. That, and I am a much bigger fan of that re-imagined UI.

    • http://www.dsaif.tk/ Saif

      he's working on it

    • Dave O

      You guys (who never really used Tasker) all react the same, and now the pressure is on Pent to dance to the tune of the Android media, and once again it's the actual users who suffer as a result! The ignorance of the workings and potential of this app is preached by the so-called journalists who made this video - it is plain that they know little of this app nor of modern programming in general for not even knowing what a "scene" is, and then so many who are even more ignorant weigh in and those who have already paid and depend on this app never get a vote! The proposals in this article were in most part heeded in the recent makeover, and now all the data which the app must convey appears unprecedentedly sloppy, and on a headache-inducing white background! If you haven't actually worked with an app, then please STFU with the opinions so that the devs don't confuse you with those who can say they have used it for years, and it's either better now or on a plunging downhill slide.

      By the way, it really is shameful that scenes were not covered by the ignoramuses who made this video, as Tasker widget interaction has been made overwhelmingly dependent on this since I bought the original Tasker tools. The Scenes UI was extremely tedious to begin with, and it has only been made far worse by the recent Tasker (f***)overhaul.

  • reevester

    Anybody tried On{x} ?

    Any better than Tasker? Tasker's a pain in the *** when trying to figure out how to set up, but once you get to know it thoroughly, its like a swiss army knife!

    • http://kawangeek.com/ EddyGeek

      On{x} need internet sync right?
      Tasker is more deep and have support plugin by dozens of others app.

    • wolfkabal

      I gave it a shot for a few weeks, it was the early beta at the time. It wasn't bad, the flow was much better than Tasker. Can't remember exactly what ended up turning me off of it. Maybe the MS integration or it's nagging for something- can't remember.

    • Dave O

      Then Pent throws all your switches around, removes all the easy options instead of correct their bugs, and leaves you with a "Scene" system of ostensibly great power but so damned tedious and time-consuming that you really are better off studying Java and learning to write better apps.

  • http://kawangeek.com/ EddyGeek

    No 'Locale' user here? pretty neat.

  • http://profiles.google.com/talhamid Talha Hamid

    I see it as a BIG complement to the Tasker team from the Mother Ship Google. The very fact that Tasker relies on root for most of its functionality gives so much meaning to this endorsement by Google. Secondly, it goes to show that Google now has possibly the best UI design team in the business. Winner: Android

  • http://www.facebook.com/YAYSAVERGN Eric James Salcido

    I like that their giving recognition to a app that relies heavily on root permissions. Tasker too, which truly deserves such recognition.

  • http://mcmiv.com/ Mark Mathis IV

    I had no idea this youtube channel even existed! Thank you!

  • Ádám Zovits

    IMHO Tasker is like the engine of a car: I don't care at all how it looks like as long as it does what I want. So I'd take feature upgrades over UI redesign any day.

    • http://www.dsaif.tk/ Saif

      Both are equally important for most of the people

  • Tyler Lovelace

    I just have to say because nobody else will...
    If you use Tasker for basic things, than this is UI I'd great.
    If you use it it for LEGITIMATE THINGS that you actually pay the money for, than this UI just doesn't work.
    For what MOST people use Tasker for this UI will easily make sense
    But, for power users, which is what Tasker is for, this UI is just too simple.
    If you want to do silly, trivial things than just download the cheaper apps that do it.

    • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

      Could you give one example of a "legitimate thing" this redesign wouldn't work for?

    • http://twitter.com/cthonctic Cthonctic

      I actually don't think so. From looking at the pictures they just made popular basic functions more accessible while still keeping all app functionality intact.

      In UX, it's pretty important that you don't just dumb down your UI for new users but to also provide another layer for power users. From that perspective, this looks pretty good to me.

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      How would this be more difficult to use for advanced tasks? I see it as only more clear and easier.

    • Dave O

      Why install 100 apps, not all of them free, just to do what Tasker or Llama can do for your system? What the hell do you mean by "legitimate" anyway? It's obvious that you haven't used Tasker enough to have any "legitimate" understanding of how a UI impacts the user experience, but I'll guarantee you that those who have migraine issues don't want a f***ing WHITE background!

  • Royal2000H

    As a Tasker power user, I'll agree that Tasker was a PITA to learn to use efficiently.

    Even about a week in, after I learned how to use it, I wasn't sure it was worth the money. Now, there's no way I'm going back to a phone without it. It's incredibly useful.

    One thing that they say about 5 min in is incorrect. He said he goes to work and it mutes and when he leaves work, there's no exit task so it doesn't unmute. That's very untrue. Tasker actually undoes any changes it does *unless* you explicitly tell it not to in the exit.
    Scenario 1: If your phone is not muted, you go to work - Tasker mutes phone, you leave work - Tasker unmutes phone.
    Scenario 2: If your phone is muted, and then you go to work - Taske 'mutes' the phone (but it's already muted), you leave work - Tasker DOES NOT unmute your phone because it goes back to pre-profile settings.
    Scenario 3: you set up an "exit task" (as the guy in the video does) to unmute. In this case, regardless of your mute setting prior to entering the profile, the phone will unmute.

  • coversnails

    I don't think the icon needs changing though, Google should look at their own awful Gallery icon before passing judgement on a perfectly good one.

    • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

      The icon very much needs changing, it currently looks like it's straight out of Microsoft Word 2000's Popart Gallery.

    • http://www.dsaif.tk/ Saif

      Tasker icon doesn't match Holo Style

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    If only Google had design rules instead of guidelines. But can't force that I guess, so hopefully more and more developers jump on the Holo bandwagon, because when done properly, Holo apps can look fantastic.

    • Dave O

      That's the problem with so many devs, especially with Pent - he just won't be bothered to do anything right with the UI!

  • http://www.lenticularimageprinting.com/ Lenticular Image Printing

    his blog is a good one! Its original, thanks for the info! Is there a way I can tell my people about this post.

  • http://twitter.com/cthonctic Cthonctic

    Wow, they should absolutely do that right away. However, I also really would want them to keep a dark or inverted theme. All the white backgrounds make my eyes hurt.

  • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

    It's sooooo (potentially) good. I hope the tasker dev is watching.

  • bse88

    The screenshot with the purple background and the logo in white is so Windows 8.

    • Justin W

      Knew I wasn't the only one thinking that.

  • http://twitter.com/Defenestratus Defenestratus

    LOL

    "So will this app unleash a panda when I get to work?"

    HAHAHAHAHA

  • Greyhame

    Just purchased tasker and immediately was appalled by the look. Were this to happen, it would be fantastic!

    • Matthew Fry

      LOL. Yes, I was also confused because the link to the app was posted below. Unfortunately, this is only a hypothetical theme change not an actual one.

      • Greyhame

        I actually bought it yesterday without having seen this video. So far pretty impressed. A lot to learn to take full advantage of its power.

    • Dave O

      Are you really an Android user? I have to ask because I had been (up until now) mostly under the impression that only the I-crowd can be so dull! If you are really interested in tweaking your phone functionality your first priority should be the degree of functionality, second the ease of access to these functions, and third the degree to which your data is organized on your screen, so that you can easily keep track of what you are changing. The color theme comes in a distant fourth at best for me, and although I would agree that the ugly blue background gets old, I would much prefer to see it switched to black or dark grey. WHITE backgrounds are for idiots who never had a headache before and really like to waste their batteries!

      • Greyhame

        You're a dolt.

        First you criticize me, then you criticize the same thing my post mentioned.. the aesthetic. If you look just below this, you would notice I'm complimenting its power.

  • Kris

    It would be nice for this update to be realized. From reading the discussion thread posted in the comments it seems the UI will be updated to match holo theme but it will take a long time, which is understandable.

  • hyperbolic

    @Cameron Summerson
    "If Tasker looked like this, I could see myself using it a lot more. Gimme."
    This is exactly why I don't use Tasker, really bad and ugly UI.

  • SoWhy

    They should do the same for Llama :-D

  • Sick of Pent and his attitude!

    What is this nonsense? Pent (the Tasker dev) has completely shaken down and redesigned his UI faster than I can do anything useful with it - the problem is that he won't be bothered with testing it to see that it's done right!

    For example, when I first started using Tasker, it had English-language control buttons, and easy-to-use functions under the Alert category to quickly produce menu widgets. The only problem is that you could not change the text color, therefore your choice of backgrounds was limited. Since menus are highly reliant on text, you would think he would have put more thought into this! So users complain, and then what does he do? He removes all the quick-and-dirty menus except one, which produces a menu in one size (much too narrow) which allows five characters of text and no more! Then he creates the "Scene" option which is very powerful (as close as you can get to a real development tool), but it takes several grueling hours to produce one menu out of a Tasker scene with the awful element positioning interface when there are ten icon elements and ten text indicators. No options are really lacking here, but Pent either has no sense of balance between giving the user power that he has the right to expect and leaving it to that user to go code it all himself! He just threw a big temper-tantrum, pulled up and burned what was working almost good enough when he could have fixed that, then he said "here it all is, write it yourself!" Take your issues to his Google group, and you will find that he is that sort of a jerk.

    One day you are testing a widget that you have been working on, and the next day you go back to it to find that the English-language control buttons have all been displaced, their functions moved around and now represented by obscure icons which leave you guessing! This only gets worse with the most recent (and admittedly prettier) Tasker interface, but with the nicer background your control icons (especially in the Scene editor) are almost impossible to see without squinting - would it really be too much for him to learn how to use GIMP and put a highlight behind those think black buttons? It's the mark of rank amateurism what he leaves the user with, reflecting the can't-be-bothered attitude of the most arrogant developer ever to get paid for his work, even as an Android dev!

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