A taste of ifttt
Ifttt first arrived on the Internet in late 2010 in beta. The strange name, pronounced like “ift,” stands for “if this, then that,” the opening of a logic statement or command. It’s where you start when using ifttt to create “recipes” of automation in your digital life, no programming required. The site now has an ifttt iPhone app (free), which largely mirrors the full website, and gives you access to the commands you’ve created and a history list of actions ifttt has taken on your behalf.
It’s easiest to understand what ifttt does by looking at a few examples of recipes you can create: “If there is an upcoming event on my Google Calendar, then send me a text message reminder with the event name, time, and address.” “If someone tags a photo of me on Facebook, then save a copy of that photo to Dropbox.”
To use the ifttt iPhone app and website, you first must sign up for an ifttt account, and then activate “channels” or other services that you want ifttt to leverage. For example, you might authenticate access to Facebook, Twitter, Box, Evernote, Foursquare, Google Drive, Instagram, LinkedIn, and many more. You can also add your phone number if you want to create recipes that use text messages or phone calls. The list of supported channels is comprehensive. You can turn channels on and off at your will from both the website and the iPhone app, which means you’re in control. When you enable a phone number in ifttt for either text messaging or phone calls, you have to enter a code sent to that number, which helps ensure no one uses ifttt for nefarious purposes.
The most amazing thing about ifttt is how simple it is to use. You might assume that the recipes would require some programming know-how, but they don’t. Not at all. The iPhone app walks you through possible services and actions in a remarkably simplified manner. It uses icons and large text to make the recipes completely easy to create.
While you can create your own commands from scratch using what boils down to a “choose from the listed options” kind of interface, ifttt also lets you browse recipes that other users have created and made public. A section for browsing public recipes lets you see ones that are featured, trending, or most popular of all time. You can also search for recipes, which is useful if, say, you know you want to do something with your Facebook status updates, but you’re not sure what exactly. You can search for “Facebook status” and see what kinds of recipes other users have made.
Ifttt gives the user control over the recipes once they’re created as well, so you can turn them on or off any time without deleting the recipe from your file. An activity log shows you not only the recipes you’ve created and when you toggled them on and off, but also other factors that might affect ifttt’s ability to perform the function, such as failed API calls.
To conclude, ifttt is one of the most valuable services on the Internet today and a superb app for your iPhone to boot.