Now more than ever before, new technologies are emerging that promise to make our lives more convenient. From the acclaimed Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to more niche offerings like smart sprinklers and garage door openers, it’s getting easier and easier to build a home that anticipates your whims.
There are many brands on the market that promise to make your life easier, but if you’re not careful, you might end up with a smart home that isn’t smart enough to work together.
IFTTT, short for If this, then this, attempts to solve this problem with a simple yet surprisingly complex conditional triggering system.
So if you’re looking for a solution to make your smart home a little smarter, or even if you just want to automate some of your day to day tasks, read our breakdown below on how to get started with IFTTT.
While not all devices work with IFTTT, the good news is that this service is completely free. In this tutorial, we will use an example that is independent of any particular smart technology to give you a platform independent understanding of how the system works.
Click “Register” in the upper right corner to create a free account. From now on, you will use these credentials to manage triggers and connect various smart devices.
The main way to interact with IFTTT and improve the efficiency of connected devices is through tools called “Applets”. The service is built using hundreds of out-of-the-box applets, so chances are there are already solutions out there that will allow you to implement what you want.
When you first log in, you will be greeted with the banner below along with a list of tiles for operating systems such as Android and iOS, as well as popular services such as Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and more.
Choosing a few of these tiles will help IFTTT give you some guidance on the types of applets you might be interested in, but we’ll talk about how to move away from those recommendations below.
In simple terms, an applet functions as a bridge between two different actions. When one event occurs (“If”), a second event (“This”) is triggered. The customization possibilities with IFTTT are nearly limitless, and with a little bit of work, you can achieve some really creative goals.
Once you’ve selected your favorite services, you’ll be taken to a page with some recommendations for applets. This is a great opportunity to learn exactly how this service works.
When you click on the applet, you should be taken to a screen that looks something like this.
From there, simply click to enable the applet and you will receive an email sent directly to the address associated with your IFTTT account when it rains the next day. It is so simple!
But chances are you are looking for something more specific than the default recommendations that the IFTTT homepage offers. Let’s talk a little about how to find a specific applet.
Find a specific IFTTT program
To find an applet that works with your specific smart technology or service, simply go back to your IFTTT dashboard and click Search in the top left corner.
For this example, we’ll use Philips Hue, one of the most popular smart home lighting solutions. After searching for â€œPhilips Hue,â€ we saw a page full of tiles describing different ways to connect these products to other smart utilities.
The above four tiles are just a tiny set of pre-made applets available for Philips Hue, and there are equally robust lineups for a wide range of smart products.
Click More at the bottom of the screen to see an almost endless list of different applets that you can enable with a simple click of a button.
Create a custom program
The collection of IFTTT applets is pretty impressive on its own, but the benefit of the service is the ability to create custom triggers that exactly match your needs.
To get started on your own applet, click “My Applets” in the upper left corner of the IFTTT home page, and then click the “New Applet” button on the next page.
You will be taken to the main page for creating a custom applet. To start the process, click + This to set the first part of the conditional trigger.
On the next page, you can choose from a variety of tiles. Remember that at this stage you choose an initial action, which will then trigger a reaction. Let’s simplify things for now with a Date and Time trigger.
At this point, you will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of different time slots. Let’s set up a trigger every year at 12:00 AM. January 1st.
It’s time for that part of the trigger. As before, click the next part of the applet.
Let’s send ourselves an email to celebrate the New Year! Click the Email tile to enter information.
Then select “Send me an email”, fill in the required information and click “Create action”.
The last page will confirm your IFTTT challenge. All that’s left is to click Done and create your first custom applet!
Now, if IFTTT sends you an email at the beginning of each year, it might not mean the incredible home efficiency you had in mind, but the process for creating an IFTTT applet is pretty much the same no matter what you’re trying to achieve.
Simply define your trigger (â€œIf thisâ€) and what you want to do (â€œThen thisâ€), and you’re on the right track to empower your smart home with convenient automation.
With a little time to spare, you can relax and unwind as IFTTT communicates between your devices and services and makes the dream of a truly connected home a reality. Enjoy!