Software Development

Automate your Motorola Razr with Smart Actions

Jack Wallen highlights the built-in Smart Actions application, which allows you to control how your Motorola Droid Razr will react in certain situations.

The Verizon-branded Motorola Droid Razr is probably one of the most amazing smartphones available. Why? There are many reasons, but one in particular that I'd like to highlight is the Smart Actions utility.

Smart Actions allows you to control how your phone will react in certain conditions. Plenty of applications have done this, but not nearly as well as the Razr's built-in feature, and not with as much flexibility. With Smart Actions, you can now automate how your phone reacts to locations and other situations in order to save battery life, connect to networks, silence your phone, and even send text message when certain conditions are met.

The Razr has pre-configured sample Smart Action rules that can do the following:

  • Adjust device settings when at home
  • Adjust device settings when at work
  • Play music when headphones are inserted
  • Nighttime battery saver
  • Battery extender
  • Charging reminder
  • Quiet location
  • Sleep
  • Car (turn on maps and adjust settings)
  • Local Discovery
To view the Smart Actions tool, simply open the App Drawer, scroll to Smart Actions, and tap the app icon. This will take you to the Smart Actions main screen (see Figure A). Figure A

By default, the Low Battery Saver action will already be set.
If you want to get a better idea of what the pre-configured rules do, tap the "+" button (near the top right) and then tap "Add a sample." A Sample Rules list with descriptions will appear (see Figure B). Figure B

You can tap on each action to see exactly what the conditions are and how the device will react.

Create a Smart Action from scratch

To really get the feel of how Smart Actions work, it's best to create one from scratch.  Let's walk through this process.

The first step is to open up the Smart Actions app. Once the app is open, tap on the "+" button and then tap "Start from scratch." From this new window (see Figure C), you must first name your rule by tapping the New Rule text area and, once the keyboard appears, giving the rule a name. Figure C

The Smart Action is composed of Triggers (events) and Actions (how the phone reacts to triggers).

The next step is to create a trigger for the action. Let's make this simple and set up a text that will notify a particular person that you've arrived at a specified location (say, for example, texting your wife that you've arrived at home). Here's how to do this:

  1. Tap on the "+" button associated with Triggers
  2. From the list, select location (you will either select from favorite locations, your current location, or from a search)
  3. Select the location you want to use as the trigger by tapping the location and then tapping Attach (see Figure D)

Figure D

From this screen, you can also search for a location (should the current location not be correct).

Here's how to add the Action:

  1. Tap the "+" button associated with Actions
  2. Scroll through the list and select the action you want to add (for this example, we'll select Send Text Message)
  3. Depending on the action taken, you'll need to configure the action accordingly (in this case, set up the contact and text message)
  4. Set the timing of the rule (Action at rule beginning or rule end)
  5. Add more actions (if applicable)
  6. Tap Add Rule

The Smart Action has now been added. Remember, you can get fairly complicated with the rules, so first knock out a few basic rules and then try something a bit more complex.

You can also temporarily unset a specific action within a rule (so you don't have to go back and add the rule). To do this, open up the Smart Action to edit, and then slide the action you want to temporarily unset to the right. When this action is unset, it will appear broken from the list of Actions (see Figure E). Figure E

You can reset this action by simply sliding the action back to the left to re-attach it.

Smart Actions is an amazing tool that allows you to not only affect some serious battery savings, but also extend the flexibility and automation of your smartphone. Dig into the Droid Razr and get used to how this feature works. I would really like to see Smart Actions rolled into all Android releases, as it is one of those options that could really win over a large cross-section of consumer and commercial users.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

1 comments
jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

I don't use the app myself, but the Tasker app has been around for a while and it's a powerful action-triggering app that does all of these things. I hope Motorola has licensed it instead of coming up with a near-identical copy. It looks like Moto has pre-defined a lot of actions, too.

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