Technology has an impact on our lives in so many ways, but one area which is attracting more and more interest is the smart home trend – the idea of using technology to automate everything in your home, from indoor and outdoor lighting to the temperature of a room.
This is where an automation service like IFTTT – or If This, Then That – comes in particularly handy. Established in 2010, this free web-based service has become a hit with millions of people and has helped them to get a range of different devices, platforms and systems working in perfect harmony. But just how does a service like IFTTT work and what are the key benefits that it offers?
A New World of Possibility
As its name suggests, IFTT revolves around the fairly simple idea that when something happens, another action should follow.
More specifically, the service allows users to create something called an applet, which connects apps and devices together and allows an action to be carried out following a command. This is all possible thanks to application programming interfaces which, as this article on API security outlines, are a type of software intermediary which allow applications to communicate with each other. APIs can be very useful for automation purposes, but at the same time can be a security risk when not protected properly because they allow for additional ways to connect to servers.
But what does this all mean in a practical sense? Well, API functionality opens up a range of possibilities in terms of automating a number of different aspects of your life and work. For example, do you want to automatically post a tweet and a Facebook update whenever you upload a new blog post to your website? IFTTT can help you take care of this.
Automating Your Home
However, the main area where IFTTT is really capturing the imagination is in the realm of home automation. According to research undertaken by IFTTT at the end of 2016, many people use its services to automate household-related tasks such as security, controlling thermostats, and switching on lighting. In terms of the latter, a practical example would perhaps be linking a weather app to your lighting so the bulbs automatically turn on when the weather app signals that the sun has set.
The report also found that many people use IFTTT in conjunction with voice assistant devices which have become popular as hubs for smart home activity. While Amazon’s Alexa service already has a close relationship with IFTTT, others are quickly catching up, with Sonos recently confirming that IFTTT integration is now available on its speaker devices.
More Than Just IFTTT
Of course, it is important to explain that while IFTTT seems to have grown to dominate the web app automation area, there are other platforms which offer similar functionality and could prove useful depending on what you are looking to achieve.
As MakeUseOf.com’s examination of IFTTT alternatives outlines, something like Tasker could be ideal if you want to set up specific rules to operate on your Android phone. Alternatively, if you use a lot of Microsoft services you may simply want to make use of the tech giant’s Flow automation system.
All in all, it is fair to say that systems like IFTTT have the potential to have a huge impact on our lives in so many ways. While smart home automation may have once felt like something out of a science fiction film, such services are helping a huge number of people across the globe to make it a reality.