IFTTT Review – If This, Then That Review!
How would you like to automatically wish your friends a happy birthday on Facebook? Add songs from your favorite YouTube videos to a Spotify playlist? Receive an email when the forecast is for rain tomorrow?
If you’re interested in any of those kinds of automation, then you should check out IFTTT.
In this IFTTT review, I’ll go over what you need to know about the tool. I’ll also cover its pros and cons.
IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That.” In other words: “If one thing happens, make something else to happen automatically.”
For example: “If I arrive at work, put my Android device on mute.”
IFTTT gives you the ability to create rules that your devices will follow. It’s a great solution if you’re looking to automate certain tasks.
IFTTT Review: No Coding Necessary
First things first: you don’t need to know how to code to use IFTTT.
Usually, when you want to integrate a couple of separate tools, you have to use their APIs. That means you need to register as a developer with both platforms, read the API docs, and code the integration in one of the supported programming languages.
The tool gives you the ability to create powerful integrations without writing one line of code. It’s a breath of fresh air for people who majored in something other than computer science.
IFTTT Review: Applets
When you use IFTTT to create any kind of integration between two tools, that’s called an applet.
Once upon a time, IFTTT called its integrations “Recipes.” Apparently, that wasn’t techie enough.
The term “applet” might be confusing to some Java developers. That’s the same word Sun used to describe Java applications that run inside a web browser.
Also, each applet has a specific “mission.” Go back and read the opening paragraph. There are applets that support all of those automations.
For example, there is already an applet that will automatically wish your friends a happy birthday on Facebook. So if you’re interested in that kind of automation, you don’t even have to create a new applet.
Each applet is comprised of two important parts: a trigger and an action.
In the example above, when one of your Facebook friends has a birthday, that’s the trigger. When IFTTT automatically wishes that person a happy birthday on your behalf, that’s the action.
IFTT Review: The Competition
IFTTT isn’t alone in the automated rule space. It has some competition.
The most popular competitor is Zapier, a tool will also let you automate routine tasks.
IFTTT has one huge advantage over Zapier, though: it’s free.
Zapier, on the other hand, charges for its best services. You can make limited use of the platform without paying a monthly fee, though.
Keep in mind: there might come a day when IFTTT also charges for the use of its platform. There are rumors that it will someday switch to a pricing model, but it hasn’t done so yet.
IFTTT offers other advantages over Zapier.
For example, you can create applets that include digital voice assistants with IFTTT. You can’t do that with Zapier.
IFTTT also supports the Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, you can use it to create an applet that will turn the lights on in your home based on a rule. Zapier doesn’t support IoT at this time.
Additionally, IFTTT offers mobile apps on the iOS and Android platforms. Zapier only has a web app.
There are some advantages to choosing Zapier over IFTTT, though.
First and foremost, Zapier supports multi-step integrations. IFTTT supports only a single trigger and a single action.
For example, let’s say you want to set up a rule that creates a new task in Todoist and post it to Basecamp when you receive an email attachment in Gmail.
IFTTT only supports a single one of those actions in an applet. You could either create the new task or post it to Basecamp, but you can’t do both within a single applet.
Also, Zapier supports integrations with services that you won’t find in IFTTT, including Amazon S3 and SQL Server. So if you’re a hardcore engineer who’s looking for a robust enterprise solution, you should probably spend some cash on Zapier.
IFTTT Review: Getting Started
It’s easy to get started with IFTTT. Just visit the website and sign in with your Google or Facebook account.
Alternatively, you can also sign in “the old-fashioned way.” That is, you can use an email address. But you’ll get up and running much faster with a Google or Facebook sign-in.
Once you’ve created your account and signed in, you’ll find that the IFTTT user interface is easy to navigate.
On the first page, the tool will ask you which apps you normally use. You can select from popular options such as Facebook, YouTube, and Gmail.
Next, IFTTT will show you some of its most popular applets. They’re presented as cards.
If you want to use one of the existing applets, just click on it. The next screen will show you more details about it.
Activate the applet by flipping the “Turn On” switch. You might have to take some additional steps, depending on the nature of the integration.
You don’t have to activate any applets right out of the gate, though. You can just go on to the main page by click the “Continue” button at the bottom.
IFTTT Review: The Main Page
The main page will show you more applets that are “recommended for you.” If you come across one you like, just click on it and proceed as described above to activate it.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a menu with just three items.
The first item is “My Applets.” Click on that and you’ll see a list of applets you’ve turned on. That page will also make it easy for you to turn off any applets you don’t want to run anymore.
Next, click on “Activity.” That will show you what you’ve been up to recently on the IFTTT platform.
Finally, use the “Search” menu item to find applets that you’d like to try. Just enter a keyword relevant to the applet you’re looking for and IFTTT will show you a list of matches.
You can also use the “Search” option to find services that IFTTT supports. Look for those in the search results by clicking on the “Services” tab.
IFTTT Review: Creating Your Own Applet
If you want to create your own applet, just click the drop-down menu by your name in the upper, right-hand corner. Then, select “Create Applet.”
That will bring you to the IFTTT platform. Click on the big, fat “TRY NOW” button towards the middle of the screen.
If this is your first time using IFTTT, you’ll need to complete the profile form. Enter the relevant info about yourself and your company. Then, click “Join” at the bottom.
You’ll have to go through the whole verification process via email. Once you’ve completed that, you’re good to go with creating your own applet.
Go back into IFTTT and once again click on “Create Applet” in the drop-down menu below your name. From there, you’ll find the user interface easy to follow.
Start by creating a trigger. Click on the big, blue plus sign next to the word “this” in “if this then that.”
IFTTT will ask you to select a service. Select the service you want to initiate the trigger.
In this example, let’s click on Twitter.
Once again, IFTTT will show you a grid filled with cards. Each of those cards represents a different trigger.
Click on the first card: “New tweet by you.”
On the screen that appears next, you have the option to include retweets and replies. Leave those unchecked. Click “Create trigger.”
Now, it’s time to specify your action. Click the big, blue plus sign next to the word “that” in “if this then that.”
Select Gmail as your service of choice. You’ll likely have to give IFTTT permission to access your account.
Click the “Send yourself an email” action.
On the next screen, make the subject “New Tweet.” Make the body “I sent a new tweet.”
Click “Create action” at the bottom.
On the confirmation screen, you’ll see a summary of your applet. Click the big “Finish” button at the bottom.
Of course, that particular applet doesn’t do anything really useful. It will just send you a generic email every time you tweet. But at least you now know the basics of how to create an integration with IFTTT.
IFTTT Review: Mobile Apps
As I mentioned above, IFTTT offers mobile apps on both the iOS and Android platforms. You’ll be happy to know that they use the same layout and design as the web app.
In other words, you won’t have to go through a high learning curve when you switch from one app to the other.
You’ll also find that the mobile apps perform as well as the web app. There’s no lag.
You can use the mobile apps to find existing applets or create a new one of your own. Again, the user interface is intuitive, especially if you already use the web app.
IFTTT Review: The Pros and Cons
FInally, I’ll go over the overall pros and cons of the IFTTT platform.
First, the pros:
- Simplifies automation – If you’re a firm believer in automation (and you should be if you’re not), you’ll be happy to know that IFTTT makes it easy to create automation rules. You don’t need to know how to do any coding. You just have to follow a visual guide on a user-friendly web or mobile app.
- Saves time – If you’re looking to cut some mundane tasks out of your daily schedule, look no further than IFTTT. You can set up applets that handle tasks you’re currently tackling manually.
- Wide-ranging support – IFTTT supports some of the most popular services online. It also enables you to automate tasks with Internet-connected lights or appliances in your home.
- Ready-made applets – You might not have to use IFTTT to create a new applet. Instead, you could just pick a few applets that already do what you’re looking for. That’s because other users have created useful solutions and made them available online.
- Free to use – You can’t beat the price of IFTTT!
And here are some of the cons:
- No multi-step support – It would be really nice if IFTTT supported multiple actions for one trigger or “chained” triggers. As of now, though, it doesn’t. Clearly, there’s no profit motive to support multiple steps in one applet, since the platform is free. Maybe one day that will change.
- No enterprise-level support – If you’re trying to put together a sophisticated integration that involves development platforms, you’re out of luck with IFTTT. You’ll need to go with Zapier or another solution.
- Applets don’t always work as expected – Not only is the IFTTT platform itself free, but the ready-made applets are free as well. That means you’ll get exactly what you pay for. Some of the applets are buggy. Fortunately, there are several “versions” of some of the popular solutions available. If one doesn’t work, you can always pick another one.
- Limited triggers and actions – Although IFTTT makes it easy for you to create integrations, that simplicity comes with a price. You’re limited in terms of what triggers and actions you can choose. If you were to code an integration from scratch using an API, you would have a great deal more flexibility.
Wrapping Up This IFTTT Review
Final judgment: yes, you should give IFTTT a try.
If you’re looking for simple automations to make your life easier, IFTTT is probably your best bet. That’s especially the case if you don’t want to spend any money.