How to create one-button automatic "apps" on your Android

Make repetitive tasks really easy with a few setup maneuvers

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The coworking space I co-founded has a nifty lock that you can open with a text message. To explain exactly how it works would divulge a bit too much, and take far more space than I really have here today. But suffice to say: you text a certain number from your own certain number, with a certain phrase, and then the door clicks open for a few seconds.

Easy enough on most days. But I live in Buffalo, NY, where the winter weather is sometimes like this.



It's like this, quite often.

Image of forecast.io via author

When the weather is like that, I don't want to take my gloves off, I don't want to have to find a contact, I don't want to type out anything—please, just let me press a button and get in. I just want something on my home screen that does an auto-text.

Some people would tell me and our coworking space to build an app. Apps for small businesses are not easy to come by. Either you have the money to pay a developer to make it for you (or the chocolate and whiskey and cookies to reward a very kind developer), or you figure out how to code the thing yourself. But we already figured out the hard part; the thing I wanted was just a kind of automated shortcut. Then I remember Tasker.

Tasker is, by itself and by default, an automation tool. "When I'm connected to my car by Bluetooth, turn the ringer volume all the way up." Or "When I get a call from a certain number, show a big alert pop-up." I've mentioned Tasker 'round these parts a few times. Setting up if-this-then-do-that tasks can be a bit time consuming, battery-taxing, and hard to trust, however.

But Tasker can also give you simple shortcuts to do a few things at once. It can even turn those shortcuts into an app you can give to others, if you want to get crazy. Today I'm just going to walk through the first part; the app-making magic will come later.

Note: If you really just want a simple way to automatically send a certain text message to a certain number, and make shortcuts for that text, you could pay $1 for Tap2Text's unlocked version. It's cheaper than Tasker, but not as flexible.

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