What The Tech: App Of The Day, IFTTT

 

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our gadgets and smarthome devices could talk or work together? If you’ve got an Alexa device you may know it will not work with Google Nest devices and vice-versa. Thankfully there’s a website and app that allows just about any device or service to work with those that don’t typically communicate very well.

IFTTT, or “If This, Then That”, is a smartphone app and web service that allows users to do something on one device (the if) that then triggers an action (the then that) on another device or service.

It sounds complicated because it is but because of IFTTT applets, we don’t have to worry about the complicated stuff. Here’s how it works:

IFTTT connects almost any device, gadget, and service you use with an applet that allows them to work together. You can install an applet where your Alexa device will ring your phone. An applet that’ll blink your lights when a storm is coming. One that will save Facebook photos you’re tagged in, to a folder in your iOS camera roll.

IFTTT lists a few hundred favorites when you open the app. I set up one so that whenever I ask Alexa to add something to my shopping list, it triggers a “then that” adding it to a shopping list in my ToDoist app.

Got a robot lawnmower? Someone who owns one created an applet that will start up that lawnmower and move it into the garage if a weather app shows it’s about to rain. Another applet changes your android phone wallpaper every morning to NASA’s image of the day.

There are so many applets created by other users that it’s hard to see them all in the app, so it’s best to browse the website, ifttt.com where you can install or turn them on.

There are applets for gadgets you may not know about, and hundreds, maybe thousands for the devices and services you use every day. You’ll just need to log in and give IFTTT permission to use them. It’s great for individuals but even better for small business owners with lots on their plate who’d like to automate a daily task.

I’m not going to lie and say every applet is easy to install and run because I’ve tried more than my share of applets that return an error message. That may be due to user error of course. Some applets work so well that once I connect them to the service or gadget, I never have to do anything else. The applet I installed to create a new item on my ToDoist shopping list has worked flawlessly for years.

IFTTT is a free app for up to 20 applets. If you want to use more there are a couple of subscriptions available to speed things up and add more than one account on multiple services. There are applets that will make life easier for individuals but many that will be of immense help for small business owners who need to automate tasks they do every day.