If you don't know about IFTTT yet, then you're about to get your mind blown. If you've ever thought it would be cool to have the living room lights turn on at sunset, then you're dreams are about to become possible. If you think it would be cool to have every webpage you star in Google Reader get added to your Buffer stream (and then trickle out to Twitter), then I'm about to become your hero. If you're getting tired of all my “ifs” and “thens”, then calm down, I'm finished.
IFTTT is a free web service that works off a simple formula that connects dozens of web services (called “channels”) by having one service trigger an action in another. The formula is simple:
IF <trigger> THEN <action>
…this is actually where IFTTT gets its name: IF This Then That.
You can set up multiple “recipes” but can only have one account for any particular channel (i.e. only one Twitter account can be controlled by any one IFTTT account… so if you need more, you'll have to open more IFTTT accounts). Setting up multiple recipes means a single trigger can evoke many actions. So, posting a new image to Instagram with the hashtag #pickletoes could have that photo saved to Dropbox, emailed to PicPlum, added to Evernote, updated as your Twitter profile picture, submitted to Flickr, and posted to Facebook.
Think about that: how easy is posting a picture to Instagram with your iPhone? And that's the only action you will have to perform to do all those other things …once you have the recipes in place on IFTTT.
You can also set up loads of recipes for all kinds of different channels. There are even examples on IFTTT under each channel to inspire you. But I should at least leave you with a few of my own examples…
Example 1: Starred stories in Google Reader sent to Buffer to populate Twitter with cool links throughout the day.
The recipe here is “if new starred item in your Google Reader then Add to Buffer”
Buffer is another service that bears the attention of its own article but, to sum it up, it allows you to submit a bunch of status updates and announcements all at once and then you program Buffer to send those posts out, one by one, at regular times of the day so that your Twitter, Facebook, App.net, etc. streams don't go quiet for too long without cool content.
The problem is, how do you keep Buffer full of content? That's what this recipe does.
I have some of my favorite websites in my Google Reader account and if any stories look cool to me, I just star them. Soon thereafter, IFTTT takes a look at my Google Reader, notices the new starred items and adds the titles and URLs to my Buffer account. Buffer then tweets those stories for me during the day when I'm busy doing other things.
It's so freakin' easy.
Another example: Sun goes down, lights go on.
My wife hates coming home to a dark house, so what I did is invested in a few Belkin WeMo Switches. I plug them into the wall and plug lamps into the WeMos. Next, I set up this recipe in IFTTT; “if Sunset then Turn on Living Room Lamp”
IFTTT knows which city I live in and accesses Yahoo! Weather to know the expected time for sunset for each day. When that time comes around, it sends the signal to the WeMo to turn on.
Happy wife, happy life.
If my ideas don't thrill you, then create some of your own!
I invite you to give IFTTT a try and let me know what actions you've triggered to make your life better.