If This Then That – IFTTT Service
Tricks You Didn’t Know Web Can Do
Let’s say you caught a glimpse of a hilarious picture or an interesting video on Facebook, but it got lost among other postings. Or, maybe you’re tangled in your Facebook, Instagram, iCloud, OneDrive and Evernote accounts and didn’t remember which is which. Perhaps, you forgot to turn off Wi-Fi on your phone when leaving home, making the battery run low and it’s only midday. Have you ever had some documents and photos on OneDrive, but the only cloud service you can reach right now is DropBox. Have any of these annoying things ever happen to you?
If so, then you’ll appreciate this new service. It’s like the Ring that brings them all together and rules them all.
The service is named, If This Then That, or IFTTT for short. It was launched back in 2012, by a bunch of young ambitious programmers, but the service remained unnoticed by everyday users for years. Linden Tibbets and Jesse Tan, the original authors of IFTTT, introduced a web portal that helps to tie together social media, cloud services and smart things.
All you must do, is register or log in under your Facebook or Google+ account. You will get an access to hundreds of apps that help to back up your sensitive info and control the environment. The service is also available in the App Store, Windows Store and Google Store, for the correspondent handhelds..
The most popular, are the apps that back up photos. I personally, like to repost videos and pics, in order to keep them at hand. But, I’m sure numerous reposts probably just crowd my friends’ feed. It’s awkward; if not downright embarrassing. With the IFTTT service, I can save photos on Google Drive, DropBox or Instagram again, without having to tap or press any keys at all.
And the cherry on the cake – I don’t have to install any app to my desktop or phone. I just choose it on the website and move the toggle on. Now, if I want to save only videos with tags ‘friends IRL’ or ‘cities’, I can tamper with the settings, and voila! I already tried the trick with my WhatsApp pics and it worked nicely. Sharing posted YouTube videos automatically via Facebook comes in handy for my friend, who likes posting small vids about her cats. But, she just hates the Facebook interface complains about it.
Likely, IFTTT can mail you all kinds of notifications as well if you would like it to. It can inform you about the Bitcoin price or about a top game coming free in store. It can also alert you to the WHO bulletin, featuring the outbreak of a dangerous fever. So now, you’ll be warned about an upcoming zombie apocalypse! The alerts can be texted, emailed or buzzed. The app’s card features the icon in the bottom right corner that shows a corresponding pictogram. Texts allow you to get info even when you’re not on the Web and cell communication is your only option.
If you don’t think this news is anything special, you’re wrong. First, you can set up all these alerts from one place. Second, there are applets that combine alerts and actions; in other words, alerts trigger some action.
For instance, let’s say you swipe the toggle on to inform you about weather forecast for the day. But, the app can also turn on the home heating system in your apartment at the end of the day so that you can come back into a warm room. Or the applet reminds you to take an umbrella if the rain is forecasted.
Remember that the app is called if this, then that; so, of course, if rain is expected, then remind me to take an umbrella. If I have a meeting with my friends at a restaurant at 5:30 p.m., then turn on Wi-Fi on my mobile and bring up Google Maps at 5:20 p.m. Or, if I have to by some vitamins, then alert me when my prescription is refilled and ready to be picked up.
The app can control smart things as well, like dim your smart lights automatically, if you have a meditation hour on your schedule. Right now, the app works with Philips Hue only, though. It can switch the lights off when you’re leaving the house and turn them on when you’re approaching the entrance door. IFTT also works with home climate systems and Tesla cars.
The most amazing fact of all, is that you don’t have to have a smartphone or smartwatch on you. All those applets are server based, so you use the online interface instead.
I experimented with the app and asked that it notify me of tweets with specific hashtags, as well as the one that turns off my phone Wi-Fi off when I go outdoors. But, my absolute favorite one so far, is the app that adds my favorite artists tracks that I view on Youtube automatically to my Spotify playlist. I’m going to add one more that turns the ringer volume up 100% on my lost Android phone as well. That way, when I lose it in the room, I can simply call it and listen for the ringtone.