Tasker is one of the best and most powerful automation apps out there, as evidenced by the extensive variety of customized solutions that enterprising users have managed to dream up. Tasker is so powerful that it can apply to almost anything; much of the time when a question is asked – such as “Can my Android phone open a certain app when I leave my work?” or “Can my Android phone automatically go into driving mode based on certain parameters?” – the answer is usually Tasker. However, there is a small problem with that solution: while Tasker is extremely powerful, it also has a very difficult learning curve as well.

We have a very thorough Tasker tutorial for those who wish to learn how to use the software themselves, but I’ve found on my Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD an alternative solution that may work for users who want some basic automation, but don’t want to take all the time necessary to learn Tasker. While I initially dismissed it as bloatware, the app in question, called Motorola Smart Actions, actually has me fairly impressed with its capabilities and usefulness.

The entire premise of the app is based on a simple if/then system, which can be seen above. Within the app, the “if” statements are called triggers, and the “then” statements are called actions. Pictured above are three of the preset profiles that come with the app and can easily be enabled with little or no tweaking from the user. In addition to those seen above, Motorola also includes rules (or profiles) for workouts, work, battery charging, home, and night battery saver.

These all appear to be quite practical, and include at least one proper trigger for the intended use, as well as actions for most options people would want. I added the “Mobile Data Off” option to the “Battery Saver” profile, but otherwise it works well in stock form, just as the “Drive Smart” and “Meeting” rules. Overall, Motorola’s presets are actually useful in addition to providing a template on which to base more customized rules.

Users can make any custom rule they want in Smart Actions, provided they use the provided actions and triggers from Motorola. As seen above, there are quite a few actions that can be performed, and more than half aren’t pictured. Actions are included to launch apps; set airplane mode; reply to calls and texts automatically; set brightness, GPS, or WiFi; and even open a website or adjust display sleep time. Many of these actions are able to be customized further, as seen on the far right.

There are fewer triggers than actions, but most of the essential ones are included. In addition to those pictured above, Motorola also includes triggers such as WiFi connection status, Bluetooth device connection, and headphone status. While obviously not extensive, Motorola’s choices do cover most of the bases that an average user would need.

Making custom profiles is simple enough, and requires users to add just at least one action and one trigger. The custom rule can then be saved under a user chosen name, and enabled or disabled at will. I’ve made rules to change settings when connected to my home WiFi and also when connected to my home stereo, and found that the custom made rules actually work quite well.

While Smart Actions will obviously never be able to replace Tasker, I am actually pleasantly surprised to say that it is really quite good. It is more advanced than some of the more basic automation apps, and offers enough customization to put it into a much more useful category than others, without the extremely difficult learning curve of Tasker. Although I still intend to learn Tasker, I don’t doubt that Smart Actions will end up being very useful to many users, and perhaps get them started on a path that leads to further automation and customization.