Former Writer · Jun 6, 2012 at 02:00 pm

Microsoft’s on{X} Quick Look and Tutorial

Admittedly, Microsoft has not been Android’s best friend over the last year. With the recent import ban over a dozen Motorola Android devices from US shores, Microsoft is pulling no punches in its fight against Android and iOS. That said, one of their most innovative and admittedly cool applications ever is all for Android.

Dubbed on{X} (pronounced “on-X”), the scheduling app allows users to control their Android devices based on what they’re doing. The vagueness of the description is on purpose, as there really isn’t much you can’t make your Android do using the program. Microsoft allows users to write customized scripts that make their Android perform pretty much any action it’s capable of performing when you want it to perform that way. As an example, you can write a script that makes the phone begin to play music when you start running. Once the application senses that you are running, it starts playing music for you. Unlike iOS’ Siri application, you don’t have to ask. It just does.

The variety of things you can do are limited only by what your Android phone can do. In the video below, you’ll hear of a woman who has her phone text her boyfriend automatically when she leaves work to let him know she’s on her way home. You can have it play music when it detects you walking, running, or driving. As it can actually tell whether you’re running, walking or driving, you can program it to remember where you parked when you get out of your car—marking a GPS spot when it notices you’ve gone from driving to walking. It can even show you your horoscope every day at a set time. The triggers can include anything from what the weather is like to whether or not you’re on a WiFi connection—even down to your location, time, and your current battery life.


The process itself is rather simple. Microsoft launched the website onx.ms where users go to set their “rules.” Each rule is written in JavaScript, and can be altered and turned on or off, at the will of the user. The, the application takes control, doing whatever it is you told it to do on the website. The application is similar to existing applications such as Tasker, which allow users to program how their Android phone does things. While Tasker doesn’t force people to use an outside website, on{X} is more user friendly, and possibly even more developer friendly.

Microsoft has also gone ahead and released the APIs for the application, allowing developers to create new rules. Unlike much of Microsoft’s software, this application is free and wide open to developers. Developers are able to look at every single rule, how it is coded, and how it is applied. This gives them the unrestricted ability to code their own rules so users can expect there to be a healthy development of custom rules.

And now for the promised tutorial on how to use it:

  1. First and foremost, download the application from Google Play Store using that link.
  2. Head on over to the on{X} landing page.
  3. In both the application and the website, log into the application using your Facebook account. There has been some negativity about this, as the app tracks basically everything on your phone so it can properly apply these rules, and users are clamoring for a non-Facebook solution. As this is a beta, though, Facebook is the only way for now.
  4. On the website, you reach a dashboard page with a number of options including checking out recipes or coding your own script. For those proficient in JavaScript, you can also get to the APIs from the dashboard page. Other options include the forums, blogs, and a link to get to your specific rules.
  5. For now, click on “recipes” and you’ll be taken to the page where you can use the rules that Microsoft has already written. The rule I chose to test was “Remind me to take an umbrella every day the first time I unlock my phone, if it is going to be rainy”. If you know JavaScript, you can also click on the Create button and immediately be taken to a page where you can literally code your own rule right there on the website.
  6. Once you’ve selected one of the recipes, the website will take you to your active rules. From here you can alter rules, delete rules or activate/deactivate rules. On your device, the app will notify you when rules have been changed and will refresh.

That’s basically it—nice and simple. As it is scheduled to rain in my area, I received a notification telling me to grab my umbrella almost immediately. Users can expect more rules to be posted by the on{X} team as the beta continues, and keep on the look out for custom rules as JavaScript aficionados get a hold of those APIs.

So, who calls dibs on creating the “Check the XDA Portal when I get home” rule?


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