Hands on: Microsoft's on{X} app provides Android automation

A new way to automate your Android has arrived, and it can tell when you're walking, running, or driving. We give it a try.

Microsoft recently introduced a really interesting product, and one that is, surprisingly enough, exclusively for Android phones. It's called on{X} (Pronounced on-x), and it's an app designed to automate events via your Android phone. It reminds me a whole lot of the automation service Ifttt (if-this-then-that), only it's centered completely on your Android phone.

Here's how it works: Basically, you create a "rule," which consists of a trigger event that's on{X} watches for, and an action that is carried out if the trigger event happens. A trigger can be any number of things: You can set one for when you arrive at your house, for example, or when you go from walking around to driving in your car.

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When a trigger occurs, it causes a trigger event to happen. For instance, you can set your phone to begin playing music when you start driving, or to remind you to go to the gym if you haven't gone in more than 3 days. In these examples, going from walking to driving, or not being at the gym for 3 days would be the triggers. So if you always go to the gym every 3 days, the trigger will never fire, and you wouldn't get a reminder.

onx-2-11375912.pngSome sample recipes.

Microsoft gives you what it calls recipes, which are pre-made rules to help get you started with on{X}. You can use them as templates to modify and build upon to create your own rules. Many of the recipes let you change certain variables--like the time or the content of a reminder--without even touching any code.

If you do want to get more into building rules, you will need to know some JavaScript. If you have any training in JavaScript--even if through something like Codecademy--you should be able to hit the ground running. Also, there's tons of code documentation and support forums for on{X} to help you get started. You can also just grab some sample code and start modifying it if you just want to tweak something a little bit to fit your need.

onx-3-11375913.pngSome modified recipes. Note: We do not condone cannibalism.

It was surprisingly easy to get started with on{X}, and within just a few minutes I had already uploaded my first rule. There are tons of triggers to work with, like reminders based on being in a certain location or automatic responses to predictable text messages. Locations are set by longitude and latitude as opposed to street addresses, which is a little annoying, and phone numbers have to include the area code. Bear in mind that this is a beta release, so not all the features are in place and there's plenty of room for improvement.

Anyway, I'm going to go automate the crap out of my phone, and if you got any ideas for awesome recipes, share them in the comments. Better yet, go give on{X} a try and see if you can make it happen.

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This story, "Hands on: Microsoft's on{X} app provides Android automation" was originally published by PCWorld.

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