What is technology: app of the day, IFTTT


CHARLOTTE, NC — Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our gadgets and smart devices could talk or work together? If you have an Alexa device, you may know that it won’t work with Google Nest devices and vice versa. Luckily, there’s a website and app that makes almost any device or service work with those who don’t usually 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 thanks to IFTTT applets, we don’t have to worry about complicated things. Here’s how it works:

IFTTT connects nearly every device, gadget, and service you use with an applet that lets them work together. You can install an applet where your Alexa device will ring your phone. An applet that will flash your lights when a storm is approaching. The one that will save the 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 one up so that whenever I ask Alexa to add something to my shopping list, it triggers a “so that” by adding it to a shopping list in my ToDoist app.

Do you have a robot mower? Someone who owns one has created an applet that will start this lawnmower and move it to the garage if a weather app says it’s about to rain. Another applet changes your Android phone’s 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 activate them.

There are applets for gadgets you may not be familiar with, and hundreds, if not thousands, for the devices and services you use every day. You will just need to log in and authorize IFTTT to use them. This is great for individuals, but even better for small business owners who have a lot on their plate and want to automate a daily task.

I’m not going to lie and say that every applet is easy to install and run because I’ve tried more than my share of applets that return an error message. This could be due to user error of course. Some applets work so well that once I connect them to the service or gadget, I don’t have to do anything. The applet I installed to create a new item on my ToDoist shopping list has worked perfectly for years.

IFTTT is a free application that can contain up to 20 applets. If you want to use more, a few subscriptions are available to speed things up and add more than one account across multiple services. There are applets that will make life easier for individuals, but many will be of immense help to small business owners who need to automate the tasks they perform every day.

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