How IFTTT app works and why you definitely need it
Today I had a problem. Accustomed to the Google Calendar widget on my phone displaying all of my daily events — personal and work purposes — , I noticed that I could not see any of them on my Apple Watch screen. It turns out that Siri only crawls the events set on the Apple Calendar — the iOS Calendar if you will. Tricky, but it could be figured out. Using IFTTT, I have automated so that all my new events added on my iOS Calendar would automatically be added to my Google Calendar as well. That way, the events would be unveiled on my Apple Watch screen and would also be displayed on my Google Calendar along with all my work events as well.
The reason I have decided to talk about the IFTTT app is that when I tried to explain how it worked to people, it wasn’t just confusing for them to understand, but it was actually confusing for me to clarify for them as well. So here we go.
For starters, IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. With that, you can assume it does something conditional. Basically, you can choose the first action — the one that will trigger the app — and then you choose the consequence of that action. The list of apps, services, and tools that it works with goes on and on. Not just that, but the list of options of actions to do with each application and/or service is also pretty impressive.
Side-note: the denomination of a triggered action is called “recipe” — or it was, as they recently changed it to “applet”. Even though it didn’t catch and people still say “recipe”, we’ll go with “applet” in this article, as it is nowadays the official nomenclature.
Okay, let’s take an example. Let’s suppose you want to save every single photo you are tagged on Facebook. You can set an applet to automatically save all the photos you have been tagged on — after having the trigger set, obviously — to a new folder in your Google Drive. Or maybe you want to automatically save all of the new contacts you add to your phone contact list to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. Or how about getting all your Uber rides automatically registered on your Google Calendar? The sky is the limit. All you have to do is think the way the app works: if this, then that. (I just realized that I used a lot of examples using Google apps — there are tons of other options as you will see, I just happen to be a real big fan of Google apps. Again, take a look at all available services).
It is true that there will probably have an app that you’re familiar with and you might use it on a daily basis, however, you'll learn soon enough that it does not match with IFTTT. So, before anything else, take a close look at the full list of services to make sure you’ll be able to set the actions to work exactly the way you actually need them to. After that — at this point, you’ll probably be astonished after realizing how many apps are compatible with IFTTT — , go ahead and create your first applet as a test. Choose an app you already have intimacy with and connect your first applet.
To inspire you, here’s a list of a few applets that I have set up on my own IFTTT account:
- Today and tomorrow's weather: by connecting your e-mail and calendar to the native weather forecast app, it sends a push notification, an e-mail, and creates a calendar event if rain is in the forecast. Also — if you choose to —, every day at the time of your choosing, the next day's weather report will be added to your calendar.
- Tracking Uber rides: it logs all of your new Uber rides into your calendar.
- Syncing all of your calendars: to make it easy if you use both Google and iOS calendars like me, all events added on your Google Calendar will be automatically synced to your iOS Calendar, and vice versa — this works great for me.
- Saving your bookmarked post: all posts you bookmark on Medium will be automatically saved to be read later on your Pocket account.
- iOS Contacts sorting: it automatically saves all your new iOS Contacts you add to your phone to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. That way, you can easily sort and search — be it either on your computer or your phone that you choose to work on.
- Extra — NASA’s image of the day: a simple applet does the subscription of your e-mail through IFTTT so that you receive NASA’s photo of the day, every single day, in your inbox. It is fun, I guarantee.
These are just a few applets I have set up on my IFTTT account — there are others connecting Instagram, Spotify, Twitter, Google Assistant, location services — , many of them filling up both my iOS and Google calendars with important and cool stuff in general.
To keep you inspired, here a list of the coolest apps and services you can connect on and play around with:
- Blogging: Medium, Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and Weebly;
- Business Tools: Buffer, MailChimp, Salesforce, Workflow, among many others;
- Cloud Storage: Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Microsoft OneDrive & OneDrive for Business, Amazon Cloud Drive, among many others;
- Communication: Telegram, Slack, Line, among many others;
- Music: Spotify, Deezer, Sonos, SoundCloud, among others;
- News & Information: Feedly, FoxNews, The New York Times, Wikipédia, Time, Sports Illustrated, among many others;
- Notes: Day One, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Nimbus Note, and the native note widget of your phone;
- Photo & Video: Flickr, iOS Photos, Google Photos, Vimeo, YouTube, 500px, among others;
- Social Networks: Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitch, Twitter, among others;
- Task Management & To-Dos: Asana, Trello, Todoist, among others;
- Voice Assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Invoxia Triby;
Now it’s up to you. If you found it useful — and it might just be, you just have to think about what could make your life a little easier or maybe solve an old problem you have been struggling with forever —, go ahead. Download it on your phone, explore the wide list of services and apps available to be connected on, and make the best out of what the app can offer. Give it a go.