New Microsoft app, on{X}, brings automation to Android

Android(s goog) enthusiasts have a new way to control their smartphone or tablet, courtesy of Microsoft(s msft). The company released a new Android app and supporting web service Tuesday called on{X}, which lets users create JavaScript code or simple recipes that add automated tasks to their connected device.
Some examples from the Bing blog, where on{X} was announced:

  • Wouldn’t you like to program your phone to automatically send a reply SMS with your current location as you’re driving when your wife texts you a “where?” message?
  • How about programming your phone to automatically show you today’s agenda as you step into the office?
  • Or show you the weather when you wake up in the morning?

I like the idea here, although it’s targeted at tech-types and not mainstream consumers. However, with the simple recipe approach, anyone can get started with it. I’m not a programmer but I was able to easily set up a test rule that opens my browser to Techmeme’s site whenever I unlock my phone.
Three aspects of on{X} are intriguing. First, it provides user access to the sensors on a smartphone or tablet to help make things happen. That means access to location, core apps, the camera, microphone and more.
Second, the back-end of the service is in the cloud. Users can program or create recipes in a browser and they’re pushed down to the on{X} app on an Android device. Lastly, it’s interesting that Microsoft debuted the app on Android and not on its own Windows Phone devices. I suspect that’s because the Android crowd has a history of tinkering with phones, custom ROMs and apps.
Regardless, the concept is solid: Our smartphones are smart, but could be smarter by taking advantage of sensors that can see, hear or sense the environment around them. I’ll keep on{X} on my device for a few weeks and see what kinds of interesting ideas I can cook up with it.