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Android has always been known as a system open to deep integrations with third-party applications, allowing us to automate our devices through services like Tasker and IFTTT. However, Google intends to change that with Android Q and wants to make it harder for apps to hook into the OS as a security measure. To compensate this, the company now appears to be working on a Rules app similar to a very rudimentary Tasker that allows you to reproduce some of its abilities natively.
XDA Developers found a deactivated system APK called SettingsIntelligence (that actually surfaced in Android Pie already) and dug into it. A string within is pretty straight forward in explaining what the app is supposed to do once it's finished:
<string name="routines_settings_summary">Rules help automate changes that you regularly make in Settings, such as switching your phone to silent whenever you get to work.</string>
The app will sit within Android's settings and allow users to automate toggles they regularly turn on and off in the settings. At the moment, there are only strings that show support for automatically setting up WiFi and location rules, such as turning off WiFi once you leave a specific location or at a certain time of the day. Once a rule is activated, Android will send users a notification that it run the specified action.
Right now, the functionality appears to be significantly reduced compared to Tasker, even if we assume that we would be able to automate each and every toggle in settings. We'll have to wait and see what development the Rules app receives before judging it in a pre-released state. It may very well evolve over time.
The app might not even be developed with Tasker in mind, but with other competitors: It feels very similar to Samsung's Bixby Routines or Apple's Shortcuts, which allow for the same kinds of rules. Specifically, the latter could show us where the Rules app is headed, as Apple enables users to create powerful rules and workflows that are also integrated with third-party apps – all of that with an interface that is, frankly, much easier to master than Tasker.
Our friends at XDA Developers took a deep dive into Rules on the recently released Android Q Beta 5. Apparently, the Tasker imitation is already fully functional there. The team was able to create and trigger rules on a Pixel 2 XL, although they're speculating that only the upcoming Pixel 4 might receive the feature at launch, since Google hasn't talked about the new functionality at all during the Q preview phase.
Once the Rules APK is activated, the options to add routines to your phone sit under Settings > System, which doesn't seem like the most convenient place to put them – we can assume that they're getting a better spot once the functionality is officially user-facing.
- XDA Developers
- XDA Developers