My day job has me thinking about automation for a living 1. And while I try not to bring the office home with me, these concepts tend to follow me around.

For instance, I’m sort of obsessed with efficiency with my daily mundane tasks, particularly those with my Little Pocket Screen. You know, like turning on silent mode while at work. That one has to be done daily, around the block of time from 6am to 4pm. Unless I forget to do it. Enter mobile phone automation!

I had been using Tasker for a while, but it’s pretty intimidating and clunky. On the other end of the spectrum is IFTTT 2, which is all cloud-based and easy to use. I found it a little too easy though, as it doesn’t allow for complex conditionals or more detailed logging information. Those two items are invaluable for higher levels of automation and debugging.

Then I stumbled upon an app called Automate . 3 It’s a visual programming language, using function blocks interconnected by little “wires” that represent a flow of logic and operation.

I’m somewhat new to visual programming, preferring LabWindows to LabView.  But the more I use Automate, the more I appreciate the visual; it provides both a crisp, controlled flow as well as a plain documentation of the program structure, as in a flow chart.

But enough of words to describe something visual.  Here’s my flow for that workday audio settings…

Automate “flow” (program)

There are other interesting possibilities with these kinds of programming frameworks. For instance, my phone seems to be suffering from poor location services, i.e., it will occasionally “forget” where it’s at by losing satellite GPS location.  This of course will cause false triggering in most location-based apps.

But with Automate, I can program some level of hysteresis, wherein the flow will reject re-triggering by using combinations of time delays, etc.

The possibilities are endless!


  1. production line software developer
  2. IF This, Then That
  3. Automate is a “freemium” app, but so worth the measly $2.99 sticker price

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