Making your smart tech devices work together
IFTTT.com (literally “If This Then That”) is a free website that has been around in various iterations since 2011. The premise behind the website is simple, when a basic conditional statement is met, (the “this”) an action is triggered (the “that.”)
What does this mean for you? You might need to invest a little elbow grease up front, but once you do, it means that you can make the internet and certain connected devices work for you like little robot employees, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, no vacation.
In order to get you started off on the right foot, we’ve assembled 4 of the more handy recipes that IFTTT offers.
1. Have IFTTT Call Your Lost Phone
This one gets more exercise than any of us at Inspire would care to admit.
For those of you out there who share the curse of constantly losing your phone, it can be a lifesaver. The process is simple: Once you connect you’ll be able to email #lostphone (or whatever preferred # you like) to your email account in the subject or body of an email, and IFTTT will call your phone. Phone found! Brilliantly straightforward, right?
The set up is equally simple.
- Read the recipe and follow these steps:
- Connect your preferred email account: One click and a login box will pop up.
- Connect your phone: This is a twostep process of entering your number and then having IFTTT calling you and in a disembodied “robot voice” asking you to enter a pin for verification.
- Setting up the IF: Setup the hashtag you would like to use to prompt IFTTT to call your phone (the default is #lostphone, but we recommend changing it to something a bit more unique)
- Bonus Feature: Feel free to enter a customized message that the aforementioned ‘robovoice’ will parrot back to you when it calls your phone (for the purposes of this demonstration we used a quote from one of our favorite comedians)
- Hit the “Update” button and you’re off to the races.
Congratulations! The internet is now your staunch ally in combating the chaos that is misplacing your smartphone.
Worth noting: depending on your coverage, this trigger can sometimes take a little while to work after you send the email. So you’ll benefit from looking for your phone while waiting for IFTTT to call it.
2. Have scheduled Reminders Sent to You via Text
While we’re on the subject of smartphones, here’s one you can customize until your heart’s content.
The customizations only end when you run out of things to remind yourself about.
Setup for this is also very simple, though a bit cryptic to locate unless you know where to go.
You can automate the connection between date and time and the SMS function on your phone. You’ll need to connect the “date and time” channel and the “SMS” channel to your account and your phone before this action will trigger.
To connect date and time, log into your account and go to the date and time section.
Connect your SMS by following these steps and then inputing the PIN on your phone once it is sent your way.
Once that’s done, you can go back to the time and dat elanding page to commence creating as many reminder recipes as you can conjure up.
Think of the possibilities! Missed birthdays, anniversaries, and Seinfeld reruns will forever be occurrences of the past, thanks to your newfound Internet superfriend, IFTTT.
3. Track Where You Spend Your Time
Do you frequent the same coffee shop, gym, or laundromat that you visit all the time?
Have you ever wondered how much time you actually spend at those places? If you’re big on understanding your habits in a data-driven way, then this recipe is perfect for you. This IFTTT recipe requires the IFTTT app on your phone before you can start using it.
Once you have the app enabled, you just have to define a few locations where you spend most of your time (likely “home” and “work” for most of us) and then IFTTT will do the rest of the work.
Worth noting: I would suggest only using this recipe on a wi-fi enabled basis, otherwise IFTTT is going to be tapping into your cellular data to track your location and time, which may eat into your data plan unnecessarily.
4. Get a Notification about the Weather
IFTTT incorporates data from all corners of the Internet and brings it directly to you, so if you live in a place that’s prone to sudden weather shifts, what better way to get notifications of those patterns than right on your phone?
This recipe uses the same location tracking that you would need to setup for the previous recipe, so in order to use this one, you’ll need to have the app enabled as well.
Once the recipe is triggered on your phone, then IFTTT will use localized weather reports from Weather.com and your location data to tell you whether you’re in for rain or shine tomorrow. It’s that easy, you can even customize the wording of the message you receive.
There are literally thousands of other recipes that exist on the website that we could also use to show you the power of this web application, this is just a small sample to hopefully get you started on your path to a more intelligent and connected existence.