I use Nirvana as my GTD tracker. According to David Allen, the creator of GTD, one of the keys to GTD is easy capture. He advocates carrying a small pad and a pen because it’s very easy to jot things down, and it never runs out of batteries. Well, saying things is even easier than that, and we’re all[1] getting trained to “OK Google”, and most of us keep smartphones at hand all the time, so why not set up a custom voice command that feeds Nirvana my to-do items?

Ideally, when I kick off a google search with a button or by saying “OK Google”, I want to then be able to say something like “Nirvana: Set meeting with customer to discuss new features” and have “Set meeting with customer to discuss new features” appear in my Nirvana Inbox.

Nirvana makes the second part of this easy by giving everyone their own custom inbox e-mail address (Search for “Creating Tasks via Email” in your Nirvana account dashboard). The subject line of an e-mail you send ends up as the title of the to-do item. The body ends up as notes, and attachments are discarded.

This post describes how to glue all these things together.

First, you need 3 pieces of software on your Android (My Android is a Samsung Galaxy Note 4):

  1. Tasker ($2.99)
  2. Autovoice ($1.57)
  3. Email Me Pro ($1.99)

These all cost money, but let’s be honest: you probably drink cocktails that cost as much as all these apps put together. It is a tiny expenditure compared to the value you get by integrating simple voice commands with various Tasker outputs, including e-mail templates from Email Me Pro.

In older versions of Autovoice, you had to set up a separate icon/widget to reach your custom Autovoice->Tasker commands. NOW, you can actually just parse the input to Google Now, which is MUCH better. You can extend the functionality of Google Now by intercepting what you send it and doing different things if the intercepted Google Now command matches one of your filters.

You need to set that up in the Autovoice application first. Open the Autovoice app, scroll down to “Other Settings”, then tap “Google Now Integration”. Enable it, and set “Only Voice” to your liking.

Next, set up Email Me Pro to automatically e-mail out. Open the Email Me Pro app, menu button, Settings. Scroll down to Auto Send and check the Enable Auto Send box. Tap on Configure SMTP and set that up properly. I use gmail, so I just used autoconfigure and then generated an app-specific password for Email Me Pro.

Next, go into Tasker to set up the Profile. In Tasker, you have individual Profiles, each with one Context and one or more Tasks. The Contexts we’re interested in here are supplied by the Autovoice Plugin.

Click the + button in Tasker to bring up a menu of Contexts. Choose “Event”, Plugin, AutoVoice, then scroll down to choose “Recognized”. This will bring you to the Event Edit screen. Click the edit button to the right of Configuration. Here, you can add your Command Filter and some additional goodies. For our purposes, we’re just going to set the Command Filter as the text string “Nirvana”.

Click the check at the top of the screen when you are done setting up the Recognized Event. This will bring you back to the Event Edit screen, where you will now see a list of useful variable names. These are variables that get passed through to the Task when the Event fires in Tasker. The one we’re interested in is %avcommnofilter.

Click the back button in the upper left of the Event Edit screen to get back to the main Profiles page. You will be given the option to add a New Task. Click the + to add a new Task. Name the task, then hit the check to edit the task.

From the Task Edit screen, click the + button to add a Task. Select Plugin, Email Me Pro to get to the Action Edit screen. Click the pen to the right of Configuration and fill out all the information appropriately. In particular,

Email Address: <my_nirvana_inbox_address@nirvanahq.in>

Subject: %avcommnofilter

Body: <Something denoting this was sent automagically>

Click the checkmark when you’re done, then click the back button in the upper left two times to get all the way back to the Profiles screen in Tasker.

Now, you should test it. Try an OK Google, but use the command you set up and see if the e-mail gets sent appropriately. The most common problem is the Email Me Pro configuration. Email Me Pro has fantastic logs, so it’s usually pretty easy to tell what is going wrong. Tasker and Autovoice also keep good logs so problems should be relatively easy to diagnose.

Now go forth and enjoy your newfound android extension powers, and make some iPhone users jealous![2]


[1] All of us who matter, which is to say “Android users”

[2] Written on my Macbook Pro