What is IFTTT and How Do You Use It?
IFTTT was founded in 2011, not long after the rush of smartphones began dominating our everyday lives. And, after all these years, it remains popular and well-received — its current rating Apple store sits at 4.5 out of 5.
But the service isn’t always intuitive for everyone; there can be a bit of a learning curve. To quote IFTTT, the company describes itself as a “free platform that helps you do more with all your apps and devices.”
Okay, but what’s that actually mean, and how do you use it?
Think of it this way: IFTTT (which stands for “If This Then That,” and is pronounced the same way you say “Gift,” without the ‘g’) makes using all of your devices — mobile, desktop, iPad, etc. — and its apps easier, and maximizes their potential. So, say that you want all of your posted Instagram photos saved automatically — IFTTT can do that. Or if you want to be notified every time someone specific tags you in a post on Facebook or simply uploads a picture, that, too, can be programmed.
Think of them as recipes. Indeed, the name is quite literal: if X happens, you can program it so that Y takes effect, typically across multiple apps. If the grocery is running a sale on avocados, you can program it so that the Whole Foods app will alert you, or add it to a shopping list app. It’s all about making apps work automatically. If you want to post to Twitter every time you finish a 10-mile run, that can be pre-programmed without any further action on your part. As IFFT says, it’s a “free way to get all your apps and devices talking to each other.”
Say you have the Notion app downloaded. If every time a thunderstorm is approaching (which a weather app knows about) you can program IFTTT to A) send an alert and B) send you a text message about the status of your home. Here’s how this might play out:
- You’re at work, unaware of the current weather.
- A severe thunderstorm is headed your way in the next 30 minutes.
- You get a text message alerting you to the thunderstorm.
- Notion then sends you a message indicating whether all of your windows and doors are closed.
- You see that they’re not, so you have your neighbor run over and close things up.