Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Using Tasker's Bluetooth Connection Event to Tackle Android Annoyances

The Bluetooth Connection Event, which was released as part of Tasker 5.8, helped me solve two Android annoyances. Here's the deal.

Smarter Keyboard Handling

For years, I've depended on the External Keyboard Helper (EKH) Pro App to optimize my Android handset for use with a hardware keyboard. I first discovered this app when I hooked my Galaxy S5 up to a Bluetooth keyboard and realized that with a bit of tweaking, I could turn my mobile phone into a Linux power-user's dream. Over the years, my phone and keyboard have changed, but the main pain point hasn't. I'd yet to find a seamless way of switching to and from EKH.

Fast forward to Tasker 5.8 and my Galaxy S10+; I've finally found an elegant solution for intelligently toggling between EKH and SwiftKey.

The solution starts by detecting the Bluetooth Connection event with the name of my keyboard, the iClever IC-BK06 Bluetooth Keyboard:

When a connection event occurs, the system determines if the connection was established or ended. Depending on this, the correct input method is set. Setting the Input Method is cumbersome because it requires AutoTools's Secure Settings. Once you've installed this plugin and run the relevant adb shell pm grant command, configuring it isn't hard. Browse to: Plugins > Auto Tools Secure Settings > Services > Input Method to enable a particular keyboard.

While the Profile and Task has a number of moving parts, it's been working perfectly. I can now flip open my iClever keyboard, wait a few moments and my device switches over to EKH and is ready to be used in hacker mode. I close up the keyboard, wait a few moments, and SwiftKey is re-enabled. It's beautiful!

Download this profile and its dependencies from Taskernet.

A Quieter Do-Not-Disturb Mode

Back in the day, one of the first Tasker profiles I wrote was to silence my phone when I flip it over. I use this Profile on a daily, or rather nightly, basis as I flip my phone every night before bed. Over the years, the strategy has changed for the best way to silence my phone. These days, when I flip my phone over I enable Do Not Disturb (DND) Mode. When I flip my phone right side up, I turn off DND Mode.

One of the features of DND Mode is the ability to define exceptions. For example, I opt to allow phone calls from starred contacts to break through, as well as alarms. The challenge I recently ran into was that I wanted to silence all Media during DND, unless I had my bluetooth headphones connected. In that case, I wanted DND mode to allow Media just like it allows Alarms.

Using the Bluetooth Connection Event, this turns out to be easy to do. I monitor Bluetooth activity for my headphones, the impressively named MPOW Thor. When 'Thor' connects or disconnects, I set the DND_EXCEPTIONS variable appropriately.

In the code run by the Flipped Profile, I no longer explicitly state the "Allowed Categories." Instead, I plug in the DND_EXCEPTIONS variable.

The result: when I flip over my phone the Do Not Disturb Mode will either allow or block Media based on whether my headphones last connected or disconnected from my device. Like the solution above, it may appear clunky, but it actually works quite reliably.

You can grab my 'Flipped' profile and its dependencies from Taskernet. Enjoy!

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