Greetings and salutations, mammals. It is Friday which means it’s time for your not so regularly posted Android related post. And I apologize for not doing one of these last week, it’s not that I forgot so much as I was reading a book here at work and I got sucked in and next thing I know it’s 5 PM and I forgot to do the post. But that’s okay because it gave me time to gather some more info for today’s post, as well as revisit something I’ve posted a review about before.

But enough with the stalling, let’s get to the good stuff!

Nexus Player: A revisit

I wrote about the Nexus Player last year and my thoughts on it at the time were that it was a nice device that was simple to understand and use even for people like my mom but that it was lacking in apps to get a full experience and use out of.

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Recently Best Buy dropped the price on it to $50 and because I had a gift card and some reward certificates I was able to get it for $35. This worked out quite well because I was already eyeing the updated Chromecast the day before and my delay allowed me to get an even better device that the whole family could enjoy.

But here’s the bit that’s relevant to this revisit, the apps are here in spades. When I messed with the device last year due to my brother having picked one up it was pretty much limited out of the box to Google’s media apps (YouTube, Play Movies and TV, and Play Music) and Netflix. You could sideload apps like Kodi and a few from the various studios/channels but the former required some serious effort to get setup properly and the latter didn’t always work properly (they’d appear sideways and you couldn’t change that at all). Now though HBO, Starz, FX, Showtime, etc are readily available from the Play Store and setting them up is mostly a breeze. (You will have to activate the apps and doing so requires you to have an active cable or satellite subscription. You’ll also need to hop on your computer to enter the activation code given to you on your device and then it’ll take a few seconds to properly lync up with your television account.)

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As for Kodi, well, it too is available from the Play Store and assuming you know where to look you can setup the various repositories with only a few minutes effort and then its off to the races. (Genesis is still the best video add-on you can find in my opinion.)

Once everything was setup I let my mom know and she had me show her how to use everything. In no time flat we were watching The Expanse (courtesy of Kodi) and from there I made the mistake of just as an example firing up Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Netflix and we both got quickly sucked in. I’ve been a fan of the series since the first episode but she wasn’t even aware it was a thing and by the time we knew it we were watching the second episode and she was complaining she’d have to play almost three seasons worth of catch up on it. (I love how geeky my mom’s slowly gotten over the past few years since the various Marvel movies and shows got more and more popular. She even bugs me regularly wanting to know about updates to the various shows and movies and the complains about having to wait.)

So yeah, if you’re in need of a settop device where you can stream media to your heart’s content and want something that’s easy to use then I highly recommend the Nexus Player. At $50 it’s definitely in impulse buy territory, add to that the fact that it doubles as a Chromecast and you’re easily getting your money’s worth.

Tasker

I’ve mentioned Tasker ($2.99) before and every single time I’ve mentioned it I’ve stated that it’s an app that lets you automate your phone to a ridiculous degree.

Up above are but some of the things I’ve set it up to do without any interaction on my part. The first four examples you see is how I set it up to automatically shoot out birthday texts at midnight exactly on those people’s birthday, mostly because I’m really bad with dates in general and I’d forget to wish them a happy birthday otherwise.

The next three examples you see is my way of sending “I’m here” text messages to my friends as I’m getting near their homes, it’s location based and more specifically geofenced so that the moment I’m within 100-500 meters of their respective homes the texts are sent out automatically and by the time they’re walking out the door I’m actually pulling up. (I can’t find the link for how I set this one up, but I’ll update the post with it once I find it again. Basically though you create a Location based profile and you set the specific location and then geofence size for it. Once you’ve done that you create a Task similar to the birthday text one in my previous example, except this one would be to whoever’s house your near and simply say “I’m here”. At that point you’d be set and whenever you were near that person’s house Tasker would shoot out that text without you having to do anything.)

I don’t know about the rest of you but I read on my phone. A lot. Either books and comics or just reading various articles and posts online or that I’ve saved to Pocket. I’m also big on security and my phone turns off the display and locks after a minute of inactivity. Most mornings I tend to eat breakfast at my desk while half asleep and also while reading something or other, but given how much I don’t do mornings sometimes this results in me having to wake my phone up constantly because I’m not touching it enough while slowly reading through the still groggy haze. Which is why the info seen above was an amazing XDA sent gift when I first discovered it. It let me set that Screen Timeout Delay setup that you see after the birthday and “I’m here” text setups. (It’s part of a “Five Awesome Things You Can Do With Tasker Right Now” post over on the Tasker related XDA forums.

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The next example you see is for my WiFi. I hate having WiFi on when I’m not at home or at a friend’s, I know leaving it on has negligible battery use but call it the tinfoil hat wearing paranoid part of myself that just can’t stand the thought of it even seeing other people’s WiFi or them being able to see my device. As such I turn it off when not connected to a trusted WiFi, but sometimes I forget to turn it on when I’m around said Access Points. To that end I used this link to make it so my phone automatically turns on WiFi when I’m near my home cell tower. Technically that covers two Access Points, but you can easily remove the references to the second one. At home I’ve got two WiFi networks, so I left it as is. If you’ve just got the one though you can just as easily use this WiFi Automator link to get what you need to do the same.

I do pretty much the same with Bluetooth, when not actively in use I like having it off and I used this profile to do pretty much the same thing as the WiFi one. Once I get out of my car or turn off my Bluetooth headphones or peripheral devices Tasker waits two minutes (per my preference and change to the profile) and then shuts off Bluetooth.

As for those last few setups they’re for wallpapers obviously. I think everyone here knows I love changing up my homescreen, either with the use of various icon packs or wallpaper apps or a mix of the two and then throwing in KLWP or Muzei just to make things that much more interesting. Lately though I’ve kept things simple.

That’s my current and surprisingly rather lasting setup, the icon placement has remained static for going on over a month now and I’ve been using the Impulse Icon Pack ($1.38) for about two weeks now. The only thing that’s been changing is my wallpaper and as of this morning I have four images it cycles through based on time of day.

To get it to cycle through those images I used the info you see above, making changes per my own preferences of course.

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And there you have it, my every day Tasker related setups. The app though is far more powerful than what you’d be led to believe based on the simple examples above. It’s also not exactly user friendly and the learning curve can seem (and is at first) quite steep, but it’s one of those apps that gets installed right off the bat on any new device I pick up. I honestly can’t imagine going through the day without it just because of all the little things it helps me out with.

I should also add that I’d been kicking this Tasker related section around in my head for quite a bit, but what pushed me to actually get to writing it was this post from Field Guide that ended up on Gizmodo. I really disliked that post mostly because it’s one of those “hey, check out this app” one’s that very minimal and comes off as filler. Great, so you told us about Tasker but you didn’t tell people how to do squat with it or point them to anything specific to help them do this or that. With an app like Tasker that’s a serious no no given the learning curve.

For additional tips and tricks for Tasker be sure to check out it’s page over on XDA. They’ve even put up a relatively new one on how to enable landscape mode automatically for certain apps (like YouTube), which I was just thinking about looking into doing. So that’s awesome!

That’s all for this week!

It hasn’t quite been a slow news week but I figured those two items were more interesting to share with you all than anything else that’s been going on lately in the world of Android.

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Somewhat related, I did my income tax stuff early this year for the first time in over a decade (I usually leave it til literally days before the cut off, if not the exact day before) and because of that I’m getting my refund sometime next week I believe. Given I’d been looking into upgrading phones soon that means I should be getting a new one as soon as I do and that means there’ll be a post for best phones you can get right now soon. For those wondering what I’m getting though, well, that’s already been decided.

A 128 GB Graphite Nexus 6P (with Nexus Protect) with the Carbon Nexus 6P Case. I haven’t splurged on myself in awhile and my return this year is very nice and thus the serious splurging for the 128 GB model. Sometimes you just gotta treat yo self. : )