Phones do tend towards science fiction nowadays; so often they act as a tiny butler sitting in your pocket, serving up all of your communication, entertainment and pub-quiz-answering needs exactly when you need them.
But there are a few limitations to what they can do. We sometimes have to hold their hand and lead them through the steps towards making our lives easier. Some even take it to the zen level; deftly switching settings around to take complete control of battery life or notifications. We’ve got the next solution though; this is how to automate your life.
Most of these apps require jailbreak access and can be bought from the Cydia app store; skip to the end for our handy guide to jailbreaking.
The Time of Your Life
The simplest way to start automating tasks on your iPhone is to do it using iScheduler, and it’s a great way to get your head around the way in which these apps work. iScheduler can be bought from Cydia for £4.99; it triggers events using the time and it’s more than worth it when you consider how much it can do for you.
Say you always leave the house at 8am to drive to work. Using iScheduler you can have your phone automatically turn off WiFi, turn on 3G and dock into your car by turning on Bluetooth and changing to your preferred preset profile. All without even turning on the screen.
It’s easy to do and as powerful as you make it. Do you go for a leisurely jog at the same time each morning? Have it open up your favourite running app when you leave the door. Do you have a meeting at the same time each day/week? Tell iScheduler to go silent when it starts and go back to normal when it ends.
Then when you get home you can turn off all the stuff you don’t need; goodbye juice-sapping 3G, Bluetooth and GPS and hello charge-friendly WiFi. No more incessant settings changes at the same time every day, just glorious automation and significant savings in the battery department. The possibilities are endless!
Where Do You Think You Are?
That’s all fantastic, and a great starting point for those who are new to this whole automation malarkey, but what if you aren’t part of the 9 to 5 brigade? If only your iPhone could change settings based on not just when it is but where it is.
MyProfiles can do just that. It’s a bit more expensive at around £8; but with great price comes great functionality. It can do everything that iScheduler can, but on top of this it can also trigger things based on location, connected devices, battery level and more. Suddenly the possibilities are even more endless than before.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what time you’ll be leaving, just trigger your WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G using your location. WiFi itself can be used to trigger things too; when your phone detects your work network it can automatically switch to its Work profile.
If you’re running out of battery at the end of the day you can set MyProfiles to turn everything off, then when your phone’s back on charge you can get it to turn everything back on again. The genius is that you can give any location its own profile; if you have a settings preference for the gym, pub or favourite restaurant then set up a profile, tell it where it needs to work and the app will do it all for you.
MyProfiles may be slightly more complicated than iScheduler, but if you’re fairly tech-savvy and like the idea of seeing the settings screen far less frequently then you can’t go wrong. Not only does it negate all that tedious option alteration, it can save your battery and data usage all while making sure that you’ll never accidentally leave it on loud during an important meeting. It’s powerful stuff.
There’s More to it
On top of iScheduler, MyProfiles and their alternatives, there are also loads of other brilliant apps which can help to streamline your life.
iSleepWell – It’s a steal at about 60p and disconcertingly easy to operate, but iSleepWell is great for on-the-fly phone muting. Download and enable it, then every time you put your phone face down it will turn airplane mode on, it’s as simple as that. It plays a sound when it’s activating too so you don’t have to worry about an accidental activation in your pocket.
CleverPin – Pins are great for stopping snoopers looking at your emails while you’re out and about, but when you’re at home they often become more of an annoyance than a security feature. Step forward CleverPin; an app that will bypass your pin unlock screen if you’re connected to your home WiFi network. It costs around £1.25 in the Cydia app store and is fairly simple to set up; just enable it and tell it which network is your home and it’ll do the rest for you.
WeMo Switches – Rather than making your phone more efficient, why not make everything else more efficient using your phone? Bits of kit such as the WeMo switch from Belkin can be quite pricey (about £40 each depending on where you get them), but if you’ve got the cash then you can pretty much control anything with a plug from your iPhone. It’s a little box that goes between the wall socket and the plug, connects to your WiFi and is then controlled from a proprietary app on your phone. It’s a great technology that should hopefully come down in price in the future.
The apps we’ve featured here are some of the best available at the moment, but as developers continue to experiment we’re likely to see even more exciting ways to make your phone do stuff by itself. Apps like Tasker for Android show how brilliant automation can be; performing simple tasks that make you wonder why they aren’t already automated: simple things like turning the music player on when the headphones are plugged in and turning GPS on when Maps is opened up.
After having used these apps for a while you get the sense that this is the way that smartphones should be; they should be there for you, not the other way round. So give it a try; the sky’s the limit and we promise that after a while you’ll be happily tweaking and tuning your automation to your heart’s content.
First off, we don’t endorse jailbreaking; it can void your warranty and cause a few issues if you’re not careful. But if you don’t mind the risk you can benefit hugely from the process, opening up your iPhone’s capabilities and giving you access to loads of great apps which don’t strictly adhere to Apple’s sometimes dictator-ish store criteria.
You’ll want the untethered version of jailbreaking for your iPhone, otherwise you’ll have to plug your phone into a computer to start it up. The most popular method of jailbreaking is to use Absinthe, and it’s pretty easy to do. Head on over to their downloads page (http://greenpois0n.com/downloads/) and download the correct programme for your computer/iOS version combination. Then just follow the instructions at the bottom of the page and you’re all done; ready to explore all the possibilities that jailbreaking brings.