Pebble and Tasker - An Introduction and Tutorial
Let’s face it. Most smartwatch early adopters are geeks. I am; unashamedly so. As such, we’re attracted to smart watches. But what happens when our inner geek is not satisfied with the functions built into our shiny tech toys? Well, in true geek fashion, we extend them. That’s where Tasker comes in. Let’s satisfy your inner geek. Read on:
Before we get into details, let me give a quick list of just some of the things that can be achieved with your Pebble Smartwatch, Tasker, and your (Android) smartphone:
- Control most settings on your phone from your Pebble watch (mute, turn wi-fi on or off, place in airplane mode, turn bluetooth on of off, etc.).
- Open applications. Often, when in my car, I will use my watch to open navigation apps or open my podcast application.
- Lock the phone screen.
- Start and stop audio recording.
- Take a photograph.
- Send a pre-configured text message.
- Call a contact.
- Send a contact your current location.
- Store your current location.
- Open your garage door.
- Make your phone ring if you can’t locate it.
- Control your home thermostat setting.
- Turn your lights on or off at home.
This is just a sample list of things that people are doing every day with their Pebble smartwatch by integrating with Tasker. Realistically, what you can do is mostly limited by your own imagination. Unfortunately, because of the more closed nature of iPhone/iOS, Tasker will not work on this OS. This is for our Android users.
In this article, I’m going to introduce Tasker, outline how it works, how it is set up, and give a very simple example. We’re going to be sending a contact a text message containing a link which will show our current location in a Google Map. In later articles, I will be talking about more advanced use. If you would like to follow along with the example, here is what you will need:
But first, let’s get some basics out of the way:
What is Tasker?
You can think of Tasker as a way to tell your phone to do things in reaction to either a given circumstance (time of day, a message is received, etc.), or a command. You can, for instance, set it to automatically mute your phone at midnight, or when you plug in the charger, or to turn off wi-fi when your leave the house. Inside the app itself, everything is stored as a simple script, but Tasker provides a user interface to allow you to script these actions in an easier format.
There is a little learning curve with Tasker, but once you grasp the concept of how it works, things get a lot easier. Tasker has a help system built-in, and there is a very useful wiki, which gives some great examples.
What is Pebble Tasker
On the face of it, Pebble Tasker performs a very simple job, but it opens up a world of possibilities for us Pebble users. Pebble Tasker is the glue which joins our Pebble watch to Tasker on our phone.
Installing Pebble Tasker on your phone will install the Pebble Tasker app onto your watch. Pebble Tasker then acts as the “go between” between your Pebble and Tasker on your phone. By bringing up Pebble Tasker on your watch, you select an action from a list, and that task starts on your phone. Are you beginning to see the possibilities?
Like many people, I often find it useful to let someone know my whereabouts. This is something which is easy to achieve with our Pebble smartwatch and Tasker. We’re going to set things up so that a simple button press on our Pebble will send a text message to a contact which contains a link to a Google map showing our location. Let’s get started:
We’ll begin by creating the task in Tasker on our phone. Open up the Tasker application, click the “Tasks’ tab at the top, and click the “+” button on the bottom-right.
You will be asked to enter a name for the task. Let’s call it: “Send Location”. Enter that, and click the tick mark. You will be presented with a blank task (shown below). Now, we’re going to create the action. Click the “+” icon on the bottom toolbar:
You will be presented with the “Select Action Category” page:
This is a useful area to see just what Tasker is capable of. Under each category is a list of actions you can take. For our purposes, we’re going to get the phone to establish its location. Enter “Location” into the text box at the bottom of this page, and select “Get Location” from the filtered list:
We can accept the defaults here, and simply back out by pressing left arrow at the top left of the screen:
You will now see the action you just created in the list. Now click the “+” sign at the bottom of the screen to create our action to send the SMS message:
You will be presented with the “Select Action Category” page once more:
For our purposes, we’re looking for the SMS category, so we’re going to enter “SMS” into the text box at the bottom of this page, and select “Send SMS” from the filtered list:
This brings us to the “Action Edit” page. Each edit page is different—according to the action we’re taking. In this instance, we’re going to enter the phone number (or phone numbers separated by commas) into the “Number’ field. This will be the number which receives the text message:
The next job is to enter the message to be sent. We’re going to send a specially-crafted message, that uses one of the Tasker built-in variables. The variable: “%LOC”. When sent, this variable will be replaced with the GPS coordinates of our last known location. This was why we called the “Get Location” action above—to get a fix on our location.
The message we’re going to send is: “Here’s my location: http://maps.google.com/?q=%LOC”. Enter that into the “Message” field as shown below:
That’s it for the task! Now, hit the left arrow on the top toolbar to back out of the action. This will save your changes:
You can now test the task by hitting the “play” button as shown below. The number you entered before should receive a text message containing a link.
Clicking that link will open Google maps, and place a marker on your exact location.
Next, we're going to trigger this task using the Pebble Tasker application.
What is Pebble Tasker?
Pebble Tasker is a simple application which essentially serves one purpose. It enables you to trigger Tasker tasks from your Pebble smartwatch. It consists of two parts: the phone application, and the watch application. The watch application simply presents three main menu items (tasks). However, long-pressing the middle button on your Pebble will bring up another menu with up to twenty more tasks that can be selected.
Triggering the Task With Pebble Tasker
Now that we have the task in place, it is a simple matter of triggering that task from our Pebble smartwatch. Let’s open the app:
As you can see, you can simply select the tasks which you would like to be assigned to the three buttons on your watch here. For extra settings, click the “More…” button. That section is where you can also rename the tasks so that they appear with whatever text you would like on your watch. Pebble Tasker will auto-populate with any tasks you have created in Tasker. Let’s select the “Send Location” task that we created in Tasker earlier:
Finally, let’s populate your watch with the default apps by opening the menu (top right), and clicking “Set watch to default tasks”:
That’s it! Opening the Pebble tasker app on your watch, and clicking the “Send Location” item will send your location to the selected recipients.
Once you start investigating Tasker and its integration with your Pebble watch, you will see the wealth of possibilities for really making your Pebble and smart phone do some great things together. The sky’s the limit!
Because Tasker and Pebble Tasker is so useful, I assign Pebble Tasker to a long-press on my watch to make it easily accessible.
I hope you found this tutorial useful. If you have, or have any other cool things you do with your Pebble smartwatch using Tasker, please let us know in the comments below!