If This Then That (IFTTT)- The Ultimate Guide

 

 

CHAPTER 1
What is IFTTT?
CHAPTER 2
History of IFTTT
CHAPTER 3
Facts & Stats of IFTTT
CHAPTER 4
Create an Account
CHAPTER 5
Delete Account
CHAPTER 6
Account Overview
CHAPTER 7
Popular Applets
CHAPTER 8
IFTTT Alternatives
CHAPTER 9
The IFTTT App
CHAPTER 10
Infographic
CHAPTER 11
Other "Must Reads"

Chapter 1: What is If This Then That?

IFTTT is a very powerful website and app.

It stands for “If This Then That”.

It aims to make your life easier and faster by automating parts of it.

IFTTT connects 2 “services” together in an “applet”.

A service are the apps and the devices that you use everyday. The majority of them are very famous, household brands.

Services are either web apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Gmail or they are smart home devices such as Amazon Echo or the Ecobee smart thermostat.

There are over 360 services that work on If This Then That.

Services used to be called channels.

Think of an applet as a recipe (which is what they used to be called.)

Applets link 2 services together so that they interact and respond with each other.

If This happens in one service

Then That happens in another service.

So, let me do a few example applets.

I am going to start with an example using Facebook because so many people are familiar with it that I think it will make it easier to understand.

A very popular applet is that every time you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, the photo is saved to your Dropbox account.

In other words;

If This– you are tagged in a photo on Facebook

Then That– the photo is saved to your Dropbox account.

From the world of smart devices, a popular applet is that by you can ask Alexa (on your Amazon Echo) to call your phone.

In other words:

If This– you ask Alexa to call your phone

Then That– your phone rings

An “if this” event is also called a trigger whilst a “then that” event is called an action.

Those are just two very quick examples to give you a flavour of IFTTT.

With well over 360 services on IFTTT at the moment and hundreds and thousands of applets, the possibilities are almost endless.

It is almost overwhelming.

After reading those examples, you might have some more questions which I have yet to answer.

But, this is a very detailed guide and so hopefully I will answer them below.

Chapter 2- A Brief History

 December 2010

In December 2010 “ifttt” was announced as a project by Linden Tibbets and Jesse Tane. There was little explanation of what it was all about.

 

September 2011

ifttt.com was launched and users could create accounts. If This Then That was limited to connecting to web services and not devices.

 

 April 2012

1 million user recipes created.

 

June 2012

Partnership with Belkin Wemo. A landmark as now devices could be controlled via recipes or applets

 

July 2013

The iPhone app was launched.

 

April 2014

The Android app was launched.

 

February 2015

One million applets per day created.

 

 

 

 August 2016

User had created 40 million recipes/ applets.

Chapter 3- Facts & Figures

In November 2016, If This Then That released the results of a survey that it had taken with over 1000 users.

Below, I have listed some of the main findings.

This chart displays the top 5 services for IFTTT users.

81% used cloud storage,

69% used streaming music

53% used shopping tools

49% used productivity

28% used business tools.

It seems that most people are using IFTTT to help them store stuff- whether that be documents or photos.

What is interesting is that so few people are using the business tools and that social media doesn’t appear.

IFTTT is an automation service and it seems strange that the use of it in business is still limited.

This chart displays the “Top 5 Devices for IFTTT users”

47% use IFTTT for fitness wearable

39% use IFTTT for voice activated assistant

37% use IFTTT for connected lights

34% use IFTTT for “smart thermostat” and

24% use IFTTT for home security.

This chart displays the “Number of device connections to IFTTT by category”.

This is interesting because it is asking about people’s use of smart devices and not their use of software or apps.

It is a question that relates to home automation and the Internet of Things.

Over 350,000 lights are connected to IFTTT.

Just under 350,000 fitness trackers are connected.

Just under 300,000 voice devices are connected.

Slightly less than 200, 000 thermostats are connected and

Just over 100,000 security related gadgets are connected

For a fuller explanation of these results, please visit

https://ifttt.com/blog/2016/11/connected-life-of-an-ifttt-user

Chapter 4- Create An Account

Signing up for an If This Then That is free and in most cases it will only take a few seconds!

Yes I know that it sounds unbelievable but it is true.

The other great thing about IFTTT (in my opinion) is that I love the simplicity of the design- it looks gorgeous…

Step 1

Go to ifttt.com and click on the “sign up” button in the top right hand corner.

In the photo above, it is highlighted in red.

A new page loads

There are three different ways to create an account:

[1] Using Google

Step 2

 

Press on the Google Button

 

Step 3

A Google Account box appears.

Enter Your Google email address.

Click on “Next”.

Step 4

A new page loads.

Enter the password for your Google account and click on next.

Step 5

A new page loads.

Your new account on IFTTT is ready to use!

Next time that you log into IFTTT.com, just use your Google account details.

[2] Using Facebook

If you want to use Facebook instead of Google,

Step 2

Click on the Facebook button.

Step 3

A Facebook account box appears.

Enter the email address and password that you use for Facebook and click on “Log In”.

A new page loads.

Your new account on IFTTT is ready to use!

Next time that you log into IFTTT.com, just use your Facebook account details.

[3] Using email

Some people don’t have a Google or Facebook account or they don’t want to use them.

After clicking on the “sign up” button in step 1 above

Step 2

Click on “sign up” in this link (which is below the Google and Facebook buttons.)

Step 3

Enter an alternate email address and a password and then click on the blue “sign up” button.

A new page loads.

Your new account on IFTTT is ready to use!

Next time that you log into IFTTT.com, just use these details to sign in. 

Chapter 5- Deactivate/ Delete If This Then That Account

There are a variety of reasons which might cause a person to want to delete their account.

Some of these include:

[1] Found another app, that does the same thing as IFTTT, but better.

[2] You no longer use the services that you have been using with your IFTTT account or

[3] You struggle to make IFTTT work consistently.

Deactivating your account is a simple 5 step process that should take you a couple of minutes at the most.

Step 1

Log In.

Step 2

In the top right hand corner, click on your account name and choose settings.

 

 

 

 

Step 3

A new page loads.

At the bottom of this page, below the blue “Update” button select “Deactivate your account”

Step 4

A new page loads

In the box at the top (highlighted in red) briefly describe why you are deleting your account.

In the box underneath (highlighted in blue) type in your password.

Now press the red “deactivate account” button.

Step 5

The red button will show “deactivating account” and in a few seconds, the homepage loads.

Your account has been deactivated.

 

Chapter 6- Overview

So let’s have a look at the different parts of an account in IFTTT.

There are 4 main sections in your IFTTT account- discover, search, my applets and your account.

Discover and search are the places that you need to visit if you want to find and use an applet that has already been created.

If you are confident enough, you can create your own applet via a setting in your account.

But, more in that later.

Discover

When you first log in, you are in the discover section because they are tempting you to find new things to use IFTTT for (and to stay on the website) longer.

This page is full of applet recommendations which are personalised to you.

The page shows recommendations of applets that IFTTT think you will most like.

My recommendations show Facebook and Twitter applets because in the past that is what I have used my IFTTT account for.

Search

The Search page has 3 important elements that I want to explain.

[1] Recommendations For You

[2] Service Categories

[3] Connecting to Services

Recommendations For You

If you visit the Search page, at the top you have some of the most famous services or “brands” that use IFTTT.

Searching for an applet by looking for a service is perfect if you know which service (web app or device) that you would like to automate some more, but you don’t know quite how you want to automate it.

 

 

Service Categories

Underneath your recommendations are all the categories that the services are organised into.

Using these service categories is perfect for when you in an even more uncertain frame of mind.

For instance, you are thinking of using IFTTT with one of your cloud storage accounts but you are not sure at the moment which account you want to use or what exactly you want to do with it.

Or that you know that you want to use IFTTT with one of your social media accounts but you are not sure what account you want to use or what exactly you want to do with it.

Or if you have a more specific idea in mind, use the search bar at the top!

Connecting to Services

Before you can use an applet, you need to connect the service to your IFTTT account.

Otherwise, the applet won’t work.

So if you want to use an applet that uses your Facebook account, you need to connect your Facebook to IFTTT.

Or if you want to use an applet for Spotify, your must connect your Spotify account.

Fortunately, IFTTT makes this very simple.

You can connect to a service by either:

[1] Selecting a service to use or

[2] By selecting an applet to use

Selecting a Service

If you select a service to use, IFTTT makes you connect to it before you continue.

To the right is a screenshot of the Instagram service that I clicked on.

As I haven’t connected to it, the “Connect” button is displayed.

 

 

Once I click on the “Connect” button, a dialogue box opens.

This is the sign in page of the service you have just chosen.

In my case, it is Instagram- which you can see on the right.

Once you have logged in, your service will be connected and you will be ready to go.

 

 

 

Selecting an Applet

If you choose an applet that uses a service or two that you haven’t connected to, IFTTT will also make you connect.

But instead of it being a 1 step process it is a 2 step process.

Firstly turn the applet “on”.

In the screenshot on the right, I have selected an applet that connects my Instagram and my Pinterest account.

 

Secondly, log into any services that you have not connected to via your IFTTT account.

As I haven’t connected either of these two services in my account, it prompts me

 

 

 

 

 

My Applet Section

The next area of your log in page is the “My Applet” section.

This is the place where you can find all of the applets that you are currently using.

You can see from the screenshot to the right, that I am using only a few applets in my IFTTT account

But, of course, some very active users would have hundreds of applets on this page.

 

 

 

 

As well as displaying the applets that you are using, the My Applet page will show you any activity involving your applets.

The activity section displays a log or a “running record” of when you have used your applets and is they have been used successfully or not.

Looking at the screenshot on the right, you can see that I have a lot of error messages for one of my applets!

Account

Then finally in the top right hand corner under your account name are 4 other options: new applet, services, settings and sign out.

The most important of which is the “New Applet” option that allows you to create your own applet instead of using a pre-existing one.

Click on “New Applet”

If this is your first applet, you will then need to click on the “become a maker” button.

 

Next, you will need to customise your profile

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before then being shown example templates to get inspiration from.

Here you can also get some community support or look at some documentation.

If you are ready to go it alone, click on the blue “New Applet” button.

Chapter 7- Most Popular Applets

In this chapter, I will examine some of the most popular applets that are being used by the IFTTT community.

To state the obvious, the popularity of applets changes over time and so just because these are some of the most used applets now, does not mean that they will still be in 6 month’s time!

Cloud Storage

In chapter 3, I demonstrated that applets within the cloud storage category are the most used services on IFTTT, bar none.

And so, let’s have a look at some of the most popular Google Drive Applets.

So I have included three very popular applets related to Google Drive.

The first applet tracks your location by connecting Google Maps with Google Drive.

150, 000 people are using this applet

The trigger is when you enter or exit a pre-selected area in Google Maps.

The action is that the information will recorded onto a Google Sheet (Microsoft Excel alternative.)

The second applet keeps a record of all your contacts by connecting your Contacts app on your iPhone with Google Drive.

The trigger is creating a new contact on your iPhone.

The action is that the contact detail will be added onto a Google Sheet (Microsoft Excel alternative.)

270, 000 people are using this applet.

The third applet tracks how many hours you work.

It creates a widget (or icon) onto your home screen of your phone.

It works like a stopwatch.

When you start and stop work, you press the widget.

The trigger is the second press of the icon.

The action is that amount of time that has elapsed between the first and second press of the widget will be added into a Google Sheet.

67,000 are using this applet.

DropBox

So here we have two of the most popular applets, involving the Dropbox app.

The first applet combines your Instagram and your Dropbox accounts.

The trigger is a new photo being published on Instagram.

The action is the photo will be backed up in your Dropbox account.

140, 000 people are using this applet.

The second applet connects your Facebook and your Dropbox account.

The trigger is when a photo appears on Facebook that you are tagged in.

The action is the photo will be backed up in your Dropbox account.

Streaming Music

Another very popular service category is streaming music.

So in this section, I have two applets involving Spotify.

The first applet is an interaction between Soundcloud and Spotify.

The trigger is liking a track on Soundcloud.

The action is adding the same track (if it is available) into your Spotify “My Music” collection.

20,000 people use this applet.

The next Spotify applet combines Spotify with “Do Note” which is a widget created by IFTTT itself.

The trigger is adding the name of a track and the artist onto a do note.

The action is that the track will be added to onto a Spotify playlist.

18,000 people use this applet.

Shopping Tools

The final section in this chapter about “popular applets”.

So here we have two eBay applets.

The first one combines the eBay app with the email digest app, which again is created by IFTTT.

The trigger is when one or more listings are posted on eBay that match a search that you have recently undertook.

The action is that you will get an email, that contains these listings.

9,000 people use this applet.

The second applet combines your eBay app with your the IFTTT notification app.

The trigger is when one or more listings are posted on eBay that match a search that you have recently undertook.

The action is that you will get a notification on your smartphone or tablet.

Chapter 8- Alternatives to If This Then That

Although IFTTT might be the most well known website and app for “task automation”, there are others.

And in this section I want to explore 5 other “task automation” apps.

As well as providing a brief description of each app, I will explain its similarities and differences to IFTTT.

I will compare each competitor across 7 different criteria.

The criteria are as follows;

[1] Apps & Devices

If This Then That works with both software apps and physical devices, but does it’s competitors?

[2] Connections

IFTTT allows connections between 2 services at any one time. Do it’s competitors allow multiple connections?

[3] Cost

IFTTT is free, but do it’s competitors charge a fee?

[4] Number of “Services”

IFTTT connects to over 360 services, but does its competitors

[5] Examples of Services

IFTTT works with some of the biggest and most well known brands in the on-line world. Do it’s competitors work with household names?

[6] Access

IFTTT can be accessed by a smartphone app or via an online account, accessed via a browser.  How can you access it’s competitors?

[7] Target Audience

IFTTT is aimed and used overwhelmingly at and by the “home” user market. A much smaller percentage of it’s users are business. But is the competition targeting the home or the business market?

[1] Apps & Devices

Stringify, like IFTTT, works with apps (web services) and physical devices.

[2] Connections

Whereas IFTTT connects only two devices or apps together in any one applet, Stringify allows multiple connections in a “flow” (their version of an applet.)

[3] Cost

Stringify is free.

[4] Number of “Services”

Stringify has about 70 different “Things” that are compatible with it.

[5] Examples of Services

It does have some very big brands, including: Fitbit, Amazon Alexa, Ecobee, Honeywell, Hue, Insteon, Wink and SmartThings

[6] Access

Stringify is only available as an app and cannot be accessed via a browser, unlike IFTTT.

[7] Target Audience

Like IFTTT, Stringify is focused on the home market, not business market.

 

[1] Apps & Devices

Unusually for alternatives to IFTTT, Yonomi only works with physical devices, not apps.

[2] Connections

Yonomi, like Stringify, allows multi step connections between devices.

[3] Cost

Yonomi is free.

[4] Number of “Services”

Yonomi call this “Connected Devices”.

64 devices are compatible.

[5] Examples of Services

These include the Amazon Echo, many WeMo devices and a few LIFX smart bulbs.

[6] Access

You can access Yonomi only via an app which you can download for Android and Apple.

[7] Target Audience

The focus of Yonomi for me, is the home geek.

The devices that it supports are used for the home in the most part.

There just aren’t enough compatible devices to interest most businesses at this time.

[1] Apps & Devices

It only works with apps not physical devices.

[2] Connections

Zapier allows multi step connections between apps.

[3] Cost

Although you can use it for free, the paid options start at $20 per month.

[4] Number of “Services”

It works with well over 750+ apps.

[5] Examples of Services

These include many of the most popular sites on the Internet including  including Google Drive, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

[6] Access

Zapier is only available via a browser- you create a free account.

[7] Target Audience

Zapier is targeted at the business community and so many of it’s compatible apps would be business specific.

These include: Basecamp 2, Quickbooks Online and Office 365.

 

[1] Apps & Devices

Microsoft Flow only works with apps, not physical devices.

[2] Connections

Flow allows multi step connections between apps.

[3] Cost

Flow is free

[4] Number of “Services”

Flow works with over 120 different apps.

[5] Examples of Services

There are a few famous services such as Facebook, Gmail and Box but not many.

[6] Access

Flow can only be managed via a browser. There is no app for it.

[7] Target Audience

Flow has a very definite business focus.

Many of the services would be little known outside of the business community.

[1] Apps & Devices

Not only does Workflow only work with apps, it only works with iOS apps.

As a result, it can only be used on iOS devices (iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch.)

[2] Connections

Workflow allows for multiple step automation systems.

[3] Cost

Free.

[4] Number of “Services”

This is a difficult one to answer.

There is not a list of compatible services on the website (like the other automation services.)

The number of compatible services partly depends on how many apps that you have on your iOS device.

[5] Examples of Services

Some of the most famous iOS apps can be used in Workflow- such as Safari, Facebook, Gmail, Messenger and Twitter. 

[6] Access

You can only access your “workflows” via an app.

Although there is a website, it only provides information.

[7] Target Audience

I think that the focus of this app is mainly on the casual, home user.

However, I think that some people would use it for business purposes.

Chapter 9- The IF This Then That App

The IFTTT app is available for Android and Apple devices.

Remember that this app is free to download and use.

Google Play Store

In the Google Play Store, the app has over 95,000 ratings and it is currently rated 4.2 out of 5.

Over 53,000 of these ratings are 5 star and just over 5,000 of the ratings are 1 star.

The app has been downloaded over 1 million times.

It was last updated at the beginning of June which shows that app is actively supported.

The App Store

The App Store doesn’t give us as many statistics about individual apps as Google does in the Play Store.

On the App Store, the iOS version has received over 1,100 reviews and it is currently rated 4 out of 5.

There is no information about the different ratings that the app has received.

It was last updated in the middle of May and so that shows that the app is updated regularly.

Screenshots of the IFTTT App

These photos were taken from an IFTTT app running on an iPad.

The Home Page
The Discover Page
The App Activity Page

The Search Page
My Applet Page
The Settings Page

Chapter 10- Infographic

In my infographic, I list 8 of the most intriguing IFTTT & Amazon Alexa applets that I could find.

IFTTT is choc- o-block with applets that feature Amazon Alexa.

There are lots of these that will connect your Echo to your smart lights, phone or “to do” list but in this infographic, I wanted to look at some more unusual ones.

If you would like to download the infographic, I have included some instructions below.

Download Instructions

Windows Computers

Hoover over the infographic with your mouse and then right click. Select “Save Image As”, name it and then download it.

Mac Computers

Hoover over the infographic with your mouse then press the control key and your mouse. Select “Save Image As”, name it and then download it.

The 8 applets that are included in this infographic are:

[1] “Alexa, there’s an emergency”

What Does This Applet Do?

This applet emails a pre defined group of people when you say “Alexa, there’s an emergency.”

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa + Gmail

Why do I like it?

I like this app because it can help people in an emergency…

[2] “Tell Alexa to Turn Bed On”

What Does This Applet Do?

This applet warms up your bed when you ask Alexa.

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa + Eight (Smart Mattress)

Why do I like the applet?

I like this applet because, on a cold winter’s night, there is nothing like getting into a warm bed..

[3] Tell Alexa to water your lawn using RainMachine

What does this applet do?

This applet allows you to turn your watering system on by asking Alexa.

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa and RainMachine

Why do I like it?

You don’t need to go outside to water your lawn.

[4] “Alexa, Trigger BMW Love”

What Does This Applet Do?

It allows you to send a message to your car by asking Alexa

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa and BMW Labs

Why do I like it?

I like this applet because sending your car a message, seems very “high tech!”

[5] Ask Alexa to Unlock the Front Door

What Does This Applet Do?

It unlocks your front door when your guests arrive.

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa and SmartThings

Why do I like it?

I like this applet because it means that you don’t have to get up and answer the door!

[6] SMS Someone the Score

What Does This Applet Do?

After you have asked Alexa for a game score, it will sends an SMS of it to a friend

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa and Android SMS

Why do I like it?

I like it because watching sport is a very social event and so when you know a score, why not tell someone else?

[7] Cross Something Off Your To-Do List

What Does This Applet Do?

When you cross something off your to do list, an email of a “clapping” gif will be sent to your contacts

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa and Google Mail

Why do I like it?

I like it because it is silly! It is a good way to motivate yourself by letting other people know when you have got things done!

[8] Trigger Liam Neeson Mode 

What Does This Applet Do?

When your phone is stolen, a recording of the actor Liam Neeson will be played

What Services Does It Use?

Alexa and Phone Call

Why do I like it?

I like it because it adds a bit of humour to a serious event

Chapter 11- Other “Must Read” Articles

In this chapter, I list some of the other great content that has been written recently about IFTTT and smart homes.

To read the article just click on the image….

TechRadar

How to Control Your Smart Home With IFTTT

This article is approximately 1200 words long

Highlights

[1] Creating An Account

[2] Introduction to Channels (Now Called “Services”)

[3] Create a Recipe (Now Called “Applets”)

[a] Select a trigger channel

[b] Configure Your Trigger

[c] Set an Action

[d] Configure the Action

[e] Name the Recipe

[f] Try Out the Recipes.

MakeUseOf

10 of the Best If This Then That Recipes for Smart Home Automation

This article is approximately 2000 words long.

Highlights

[1] What is IFTTT?

[2] Lists (and describes) 10 Great IFTTT applets that work with different smart devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

[3] Create Your Own Recipe

[4] The Always Evolving Smart Home

Wareable

​Best IFTTT Applets for your Smart Home

Highlights

This article is approximately 1900 words

This post lists 21 applets for your home.

The services that are used include: Amazon Alexa, BMW, Ring, Eight, Garageio. Google Assistant and FitBit.

SmartHome Solver

Smart Home Reference Guide – Part 3: IFTTT Smart Home Automation

This article is approximately 1700 words

It is part 3 of a 4 part “smart home reference guide”.

Highlights

[1] An Introduction to IFTTT

[2] IFTTT is a Game Changer for Smart Homes

[3] Issues with IFTTT

[4] Other Options for Automation

Lifewire

Enhance Your Smart Home with IFTTT

This article is approximately 1100 words long

Highlights

[1] Understanding IFTTT

[2] Adding Additional Sensors to Your Home

[3] Enhance Sensors With Custom Light Colors

[4] Sensors Can Make Your Home More Comfortable.

Home Alarm Report

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Home Compatibility

This article is approximately 3,200 words long

Highlights

Only one section of this article deals with IFTTT- but don’t let that put you off!

It is a chart that lists some of best selling smart hubs, smart cameras, smart thermostats, smart lights and smart locks and details what triggers and actions (if any) can be created with them in IFTTT. It is a very interesting read.

RealtyBizNews

IFTTT Recipes To Run Your Smart Home the Smart Way

This article is approximately 1000 words long

Highlights

This post includes 8 IFTTT Applets.

The applets use services such as: NestCam, Lockitron and Honeywell Lyric.

Build Your Smart Home

This article is approximately 1600 words long

How to Work With the Smart Home IFTTT Platform

Highlights

[1] What is IFTTT

[2] How to Work With IFTTT

[3] What are Channels and How to Use Them?

[4] Creating Your First Recipe

[5] Name & Try Your Recipe

 

Leave a Reply