Last week, Google remotely disabled a pretty popular Chrome extension, which was found to contain malware. The lead up to that point was complicated, but the ultimate cause can be tied back to a change in ownership in June 2020. It's a common refrain at this point: Developers cash out (as they're allowed to do), but the new unscrupulous owners are only interested in a quick buck. Sometimes these acquisitions come with a tweet or a blog post; in the best cases, the app or extension will even tell you outright that it's under new ownership. But you can't always rely on that.
The popular automation app Tasker just picked up a big new feature: The ability to call tasks from Tasker directly from the Google Assistant. It's English-only for now, but you'll be able to trigger your tasks just by name when telling the Assistant to "start" or "do" a specific command in Tasker. Even more powerfully and flexibly, you can also use Tasker's Pattern Matching to perform actions with variables on the fly. But unlike AutoVoice, this only works on the device that has Tasker installed on it — probably your phone.
Tasker is one of the best ways to get advanced functionality out of your devices, and now it's getting even better in the latest update. Version 5.11.13 adds a number of improvements to the de facto app for tinkerers, including Call Screening, easier imports, new variables, and more — but it's not all positive.
Google has taken down the Assistant-integrated AutoVoice Action again, for the second time in a year. This time, the company claims the action "promotes content that advocates hate or violence or promotes discrimination," apparently because someone in Germany stringed together a clearly custom command that made the Assistant spout off some hate speech.
Join is the Pushbullet clone created by João Dias (also known as 'joaomgcd'), the same developer behind Tasker and many of its popular add-ons. It allows notifications from your Android device to appear on your computer, complete with the ability to respond to text messages, take screenshots, and more. Join is now testing a new desktop application, with multi-platform support and the ability to sync clipboard data.
If you need to automate something on your Android phone, you can be confident Tasker can handle it. While the app has always been good with updates, the new management, aka joaomgcd of AutoApps fame, has pushed some significant new functionality over the past year. Last month, the Tasker v5.9 beta added an interesting new feature — the ability to read the phone's Logcat and react to events, opening up a whole new category of reactive use-cases for your tasks. Today, the stable build of v5.9 was pushed to the Play Store with Logcat events and a whole bunch of other features.