Android App Review: Spotlight – Llama – Location Profiles

Llama – Location Profiles KebabApps

Free (Donations appreciated, can be done inside the app)

This morning when I woke up, I had a missed call on my phone from 2:13am from a number I’d never seen in my life.  I never heard a ring.  My colleague called me about 5 minutes before I left for work to let me know he’d be a little late.  Phone rang, clear as a bell.  While eating my breakfast in a hurry, I downloaded a podcast over my Wi-Fi, already activated on the phone.  During the last part of my leaving-home ritual, I turned on my bluetooth headphones, and opened BeyondPod – suddenly, bluetooth was activated on my phone.  I hit play on the one I wanted to hear, and set off. While at a red light driving in, I felt my phone vibrate.  A quick glance tells me I’ve received a Facebook notification over my now-active 3G connection.  When I arrived at work, I turned off my bluetooth headphones; another fast look at my Nexus shows me that BeyondPod is closed, and bluetooth has been disabled.  Once I was finally sitting at my desk, my phone vibrated again, longer this time to indicate it was a phone call.  I answer, and my colleague reports he will now be half an hour late.  Minutes later, my phone rings loudly – my boss on the line, and something needed to get done urgently.

All of this took place without me touching any of the settings on my phone, thanks to the little Llama icon in the top-left corner of my screen.

Llama is an incredibly powerful location and scheduling tool for your phone.  In the story above, it killed apps I was done using, enabled/disabled bluetooth, enabled/disabled Wi-Fi, went from silent to loud to vibrate, allowed specific numbers to ring loudly regardless of other settings… and I’m barely scratching the surface of what it can do.

Very small samples of the ‘Conditions’ and ‘Actions’ – best thought of as the causes and effects.

Llama (Location Aware Mobile App, with an extra ‘L’ for flavor) determines where you are by using phone masts (that’s cell towers, to my fellow Americans) rather than GPS, not so much to pinpoint where to find you, but more to make seperate profiles for the spaces you designate.  Where you live you may only have 2 cell towers nearby that your phone can poll; at work you may have 3 to poll from; this is a distinction the app can use.  Due to this, it is recommended that you live in a relatively urban area where there are more cell towers if you want to rely on Llama.  People in more rural or sparsely populated areas may have just one cell tower to poll for a large radius, leaving Llama in the lurch.

Once Llama knows a location or two, the things you can do are incredibly useful.  It uses ‘Conditions’ and ‘Actions’ – in other words, it reacts to what’s going on, on and off the phone… and that isn’t limited to just where you are.  For instance, you may set it to turn off your Wi-Fi when you leave home, or to turn on silent mode when you enter the library.  You can have it automatically launch your GPS navigation app of choice, or any application for that matter, when you leave your home.  You can have it kill apps if you are rooted and give it the access to do so.  If you wanted, you could have it disable bluetooth when it notices that your bluetooth device has disconnected.  You can turn data off when the battery gets below a certain percentage.  The possibilities, while not endless, are lengthy.

These four screens are the settings for just ONE Profile.  Definitely daunting at first; exceedingly awesome once you get used to it.

This app is not perfect, yet.  The developer did not have access to a 4G handset when making it, so the settings involving 4G may or may not work.  There are a lot of ‘experimental’ settings which I have not tried, because I’m not in the game to experiment.  It also does better with several simple events rather than complicated events; for instance, I tried to have it kill bluetooth and my two most-used media apps when I turned off my headphones with one event; I had to break it into three events to make it work properly.  The app also has a steep learning curve; it was quite intimidating at first, but that was just me confusing ‘option-packed’ with ‘complexity’.  The UI isn’t entirely intuitive.  Thankfully, there’s a Help button in the app.

KebabApps certainly does not lack a sense of humor. Die! Die! Die!

THE TL;DR:

  • Unprecedented value and functionality for a free app with no ads that I could find.  DONATE GENEROUSLY!
  • Massively customizable to suit your individual needs.
  • A little scary.
  • Some functions require root access.
  • Far better for city life than farm life due to how it locates you.
  • Does not eat your battery unless you set it to do so.
  • Developer has a good sense of humor.
  • Not complete; does not seem to work on 4G functions; slightly buggy; clearly a work in progress.
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