Discover how to make the smart house dream one step closer to reality with a brilliant free service that links all your devices, services and apps together. Nick Peers explains IFTTT.

Updated: the internet of things is supposed to be about all your smart devices collaborating and co-operating with each other, but in practice that doesn’t always happen. Manufacturers want to tie you to their own devices, so don’t work that hard at making them interoperable with others, but the good news is that you can tie everything together more closely with the help of a free service called IFTTT.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT links different internet-connected devices and services together through a beautifully simple concept: “IF That Then This”. These links consist of just two elements: a Trigger (‘If That’) and an Action (‘Then This’) – for example, if your home security camera detects movement in your home (a trigger), you can receive an email, Tweet or other warning (an action).

These trigger-action combinations are what IFTTT terms ‘recipes’, and are incredibly simple to build following a series of simple steps. Or you can select from thousands of previously created recipes, adapting them to your particular needs. There are no limits to the number of recipes you can use.

To make recipes easier to create and manage, supported devices, services and apps organise their own triggers and actions into ‘channels’, which you then browse to see what kind of recipes you can create – check them out. There are over 200 channels in total, with over 75 dedicated to smart home devices, covering a wide range of uses:

Devices can be linked together, or used in conjunction with other online services, whether it’s the IFTTT Spotify channel, social media (such as Twitter and Facebook), your iPhone’s Location Services tool or the Weather channel.

IFTTT channel

An IFTTT channel enables you to link up categories of device

 

How to use IFTTT

IFTTT is accessed through your web browser or via mobile app (see below). Start by visiting www.ifttt.com where you can see what IFTTT is capable of without having to sign up first. Click the ‘Connect Your Home’ link to see some further examples of what can be done – there’s an IFTTT hue recipe that switches your Philips Hue lights on automatically as the sun goes down, for instance, or you can use the IFTTT Nest recipe to switch on the heating when you leave work.

This is where IFTTT home automation recipes prove their worth – the IFTTT Nest channel links with the IFTTT iPhone Location channel to switch on your heating the moment you physically leave work. It’s more accurate than a timer, doesn’t rely on you remembering to switch on your heating manually via your phone’s app, and ensure you won’t be unnecessarily heating your home should you work late.

Recipes originate from both official sources and fellow users. The latter prove particularly smart at filling in gaps missed by manufacturers – there’s no dedicated IFTTT Sonos channel, for example, but you’ll find clever workarounds that allow you to pause and play your Sonos player when leaving or arriving home.

IFTTT hue recipe

Before building your own recipes, check to see if someone hasn’t already done the hard work for you.

 

  1. 1. What is IFTTT?
  2. 2. Get started with IFTTT
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