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Apps / software IFTTT: what is it?

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Whether Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, Dropbox or OneDrive, Twitter or Instagram: all kinds of online services make life easier. It's just stupid that the different providers rarely work together. For example, if you want to publish a photo in multiple networks, you usually have to do this manually. This is where “IFTTT” comes in. The website makes it possible to automate the use of countless online services as well as smart home devices or smartphones.

What does IFTTT mean?

IFTTT" stands for "If this, then that", so "If this, then this”- and that is exactly the concept of the service: As soon as something happens, IFTTT takes another action. For this purpose, IFTTT offers so-called applets, also known as recipes. You can use these recipes to create countless solutions for online services that can otherwise only be implemented with a great deal of effort. For example, you can synchronize cloud services, simplify the use of social media pages or automatically log important information for services such as Google Docs. When using IFTTT, you can choose between thousands of ready-made solutions or create your own recipes.

By the way:
IFTTT is completely free of charge for private users. The service is financed with services for companies that can use the platform for their own recipes.

IFTTT: Countless possibilities

The possibilities that arise with IFTTT are almost limitless. Classics are, for example, the simultaneous posting of photos on several social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram or Twitter and Instagram. IFTTT can also be used very well for productive purposes. One example is the automatic synchronization of contacts between Google Contacts and Microsoft Office 365. Notification or monitoring of social media services, for example when certain hashtags appear on Twitter, is also possible without any problems.

In addition to online services, IFTTT can also be connected to an increasing number of smart home solutions. This opens up many possibilities, especially in combination with the smart assistants such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa. For example, IFTTT allows the creation of scenarios for lighting solutions such as Philips Hue. Conceivable, for example, is a call defined by you such as “Alexa, make it cozy”, with which IFTTT then plays soft lighting and a quiet playlist from Spotify, Deezer or other streaming services.

Tip:
A continuously updated overview of all services and devices that IFTTT supports can be found under this link: https://ifttt.com/services. But that's not all: with one click on one of the logos, you can search through the most popular recipes of the IFTTT community and set them up with just a few clicks.

Last but not least, thanks to mobile apps for Android and iOS, you can also use IFTTT to carry out certain actions on smartphones and tablets. For example, you can have your smartphone automatically muted when it is connected to a work Wi-Fi network. Location-dependent events such as “Remind me of my shopping list when I arrive at the supermarket” are also possible without any problems.

The first steps with IFTTT

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The possibilities of IFTTT are manifold. Nevertheless, using the service is pleasantly easy. After creating a user account, you can either create your own recipes or choose from a large pool of existing solutions. The easiest way to do this is to use the services page already shown. Find a service or a device for which you want to create an automatism. A second point of contact for IFTTT recipes are the “Discover” and “Collections” areas. The makers of IFTTT regularly present interesting solutions here, which are also sorted by categories. Once you have activated a few applets, you will also receive interesting suggestions based on your services and interests.

If you have found what you are looking for, click on the details page of an applet and then on "Turn on”. The first time you are linked you will be automatically redirected to the login page for the services. Here you need IFTTT Allow access to your account. Then try whether the selected recipe works by using the trigger - for example, posting a photo - try and checkwhether the desired event is carried out. In the area "My applets”You can check, adapt and, if necessary, deactivate the activated IFTTT recipes.

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Under "My applets”You can do yours too own IFTTT recipes create. To do this, click on "New applet"And then first define via"If this ...”The trigger. You can choose this from all supported IFTTT services. After the trigger you now need the "Then”, Which is what IFTTT is supposed to do. Here, too, you have countless options. Depending on what is to happen, you will then have to provide IFTTT with additional data. For example, if the service is to insert text into a Google Drive document, you need to define it. Depending on what is supposed to happen, creating a recipe can be quite complicated - it is basically a type of programming. If you are satisfied, click on "finish”And check if the applet works, if possible. If this is not the case, you can go to "My applets”Edit and delete if necessary.

Hurdles and obstacles

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As practical as using IFTTT can be: In practice, problems are almost guaranteed to arise sooner or later. This applies, for example, if German voice commands are to be used for smart home devices. The voice assistants Alexa or Google Home do not always correctly recognize in the test if a German-language activation text is used in the recipes. If possible, you should try to define and speak the appropriate commands in English.

It can also happen that initially functioning applets quit their service at some point. This happens, for example, if one of the linked services changes or even completely stops its API access. Changing your access data - i.e. password, email address, user name, etc. - can also lead to errors when executing the recipe. The activity feed provides an overview of which IFTTT recipes were incorrectly (or successfully) executed or processed. You can reach it at https://ifttt.com/activity or via the tab "Activity”In the IFTTT apps.