IFTTT: Your Personal Virtual Robot
Life’s simple pleasures are the best. Simple tools give great satisfaction; the thud of a hammer, the growl of a handsaw, and the elegant execution of an IFTTT recipe. Read on to learn how IFTTT can make your online life immensely easier...
Simplify and Automate Your Online Tasks
IFTTT? Robots? Wait, what? Yes, this thing called IFTTT (pronounced like “gift” without the “g”) is one of the simplest, most satisfying, and most versatile tools ever invented for the online world! IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That” -- the most basic of all human decision-making algorithms. Here is how you can turn it into a personal robot that monitors events on the Web or your smartphone, then takes actions to make your online life easier:
In the world of IFTTT, online things such as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Dropbox, OneNote, and so on, are called “channels” through which information flows and actions are initiated. Currently, IFTTT supports 121 channels. In addition to reacting to online events, mobile IFTTT apps for Android and iOS devices allow you to monitor all sorts of things on your smartphone and take a variety of actions.
You can use the simple logic of IFTTT to connect channels in useful, infinitely expandable ways. For instance:
• IF "a new item matching my keywords appears on eBay (or Etsy, or BestBuy)" THEN "send me a text message notification."
• IF "new Health articles are published by NY Times" THEN “email me a weekly digest.”
• IF "the temperature in (some city) goes above/below (some number)" THEN "call my phone and tell me."
• IF "I upload a photo to Instagram" THEN "send a backup copy to Dropbox."
• IF "my phone arrives at or leaves school/church/work" THEN "turn Mute mode ON or OFF"
The event in quotes that follows an IF statement is called a “trigger.” The thing-to-do that follows the THEN statement is called an “action.” The entire IFTTT statement including action and trigger is called a “recipe.”
The Web, Your Phone, and Things!
You don't need programming skills to use IFTTT. The IFTTT website has a very user-friendly recipe-construction wizard that can help you put together a custom-crafted recipe by just pointing and clicking. It also features a growing “cookbook” of users’ recipes that you can use. You can even sign up for a “recipe of the day” delivered via email.
IFTTT has even joined the Internet of Things, signing up Belkin WeMo Devices as a channel. This means you can create a recipe that says, “IF I send a text message saying, ‘Turn on porch light’ THEN turn on the porch light” through the Internet-connected WeMo light-control switch.
Mobile IFTTT apps for iPhone and Android phones are available. IFTTT integrates with other services such as Yahoo! Pipes to enable elaborate recipes that collect data from many sources and publish or store it wherever you like.
IFTTT is so simple and yet so far-reaching that it’s difficult to describe. I recommend that you sign up for an IFTTT account (it’s free!) and play with it a bit. Create a few recipes and browse the many channels for more. If you're an IFTTT-er, tell me how you've found it useful.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Sep 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- IFTTT: Your Personal Virtual Robot (Posted: 12 Sep 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved