Alexa, Nest, Apple HomeKit and Google Home are all upping the home automation game, but IFTTT has been kicking ass and taking names in the space for years with its Applets (previously called IFTTT recipes).
What is IFTTT?
IFTTT ‚Äď or If This Then That, for those yet to make its acquaintance ‚Äď is a web-based service that allows various platforms, apps and gadgets to trigger responses in one another that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
It launched way back in 2011 ‚Äď historic in smart home terms ‚Äď and essentially it's a free way to get bits of connected tech talking to each other.
IFTTT now has some rival platforms which include Stringify (now owned by Comcast), Yonomi and Home Assistant. These types of platforms and services are particularly useful in linking devices which aren't currently linked because they were designed for different ecosystems or protocols.
IFTTT: Get started
To get started with IFTTT, just head to the site and sign up via your email/Facebook or Google details and/or download the IFTTT app on the App Store or Google Play. It's available for iPhone and Android.
As far as you're concerned, IFTTT is divided into Services and Applets. Services aren't just services like Spotify, they also cover apps, whole platforms and devices. Basically anything you might want to control or be controlled by something else. Categories of IFTTT Services include appliances, baby, communication, business tools, cloud storage, environment control, security and monitoring, lighting, photo and video and shopping.
Applets are what "bring your services together" by connecting up devices and platforms. Which Applets are useful to you completely depends on what smart home tech you actually have in your home as well as what apps and services you use. That said, scroll down to see some Applets that we think are particularly cool or useful.
IFTTT: What devices are compatible?
IFTTT is pretty damn comprehensive when it comes to smart home tech and the services you might want to use with it. There's lots of compatibility with smartphone-based triggers too.
We're not going to list every single IFTTT Service here ‚Äď head to IFTTT's own Services page for that ‚Äď but here are a few of the big names in each of the main categories.
IFTTT: Voice/AI assistants and hubs
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
- Microsoft Cortana
- Invoxia Triby
- Samsung SmartThings
- Note: Siri isn't officially listed but you can set up Applets using Siri ‚Äď Apple's own IFTTT-like feature is called Siri Shortcuts
IFTTT: TV and video
- AnyMote Smart Remote
- Comcast Labs
IFTTT: Smart lighting
- Philips Hue
- Hive Active Lighting
- TP-Link Kasa
- WeMo Lighting, Dimmer, Light Switch
IFTTT: Smart heating
- Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect
- Hive Active Heating, Motion/Door/Window Sensors
- Netatmo Thermostat, Weather Station
- Tado Heating/Air Conditioning/Water
IFTTT: Smart security
IFTTT: Smart appliances
- GE Appliances
- LG Washer, Dryer
- iDevices plugs and switches
- Samsung Washer, Samsung Robot Vacuum, Samsung Refrigerator
- Whirlpool Dryer, Whirlpool Washer, Whirlpool Refrigerator
The best IFTTT Applets to try
Many of the best IFTTT recipes are helpful workarounds for ways of using kit that haven't quite patched as out-of-the-box just yet. You can browse the full lot here.
Got a few smart home products already? Here are some of the best IFTTT Applets that you can start using today.
Call my phone
Sometimes, you're going to lose your phone. Unless you have a service like Find my iPhone or an Android equivalent, you're asking someone to call your phone. Why don't you ask Google Assistant or Alexa? This Applet uses a VoiP service within the IFTTT app on your phone, so as long as you've got the app on your phone it'll work.
Sync Alexa to-do with your iOS reminders
Barking quick reminders to Alexa is a great way of using your voice assistant, but all too often these are then lost to the ether. After all, there‚Äôs no point in setting a reminder if she‚Äôs not around to jog your memory. This nifty Applet syncs your Alexa to-do list with your iOS reminders app ‚Äď so you can have important events noted across your iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. No excuses.
Alexa shopping added to iOS reminders
Combined benefits of peace of mind over your shopping list and remembering what the hell you ordered last night, this Applet pops anything added to your Alexa shopping list onto your iOS reminders. That should help you combat joke items added by the kids, and also save on doubling up on toilet roll at the supermarket.
Turn on your TV with Google Assistant
This Applet that links Google Assistant and Logitech Harmony can help you fire up your TV without retrieving the remote control from between the sofa cushions. A quick ‚ÄúOk Google, turn on my TV‚ÄĚ puts you in control.
Control your appliances
If you‚Äôre the proud owner of smart appliances, there are a host of IFTTT controls to take advantage of your new IoT kitchen. This Applet will send you a notification when your Bosch dishwasher cycle ends, but there are similar options for Whirlpool, GE, Samsung and LG devices covering washing machines, dryers, robot vacuums, slow-cookers and more.
You wake up, everything wakes up
When you wake up in the morning, you need a couple of minutes to get yourself situated. Wouldn't it be nice if everything just took care of itself? Well, that's what this Applet from Flic does. Your lights are on, your coffee is getting ready, your co-workers are alerted. It's all good.
Get a hot coffee when you wake up
If nothing gets you going in the morning quicker than a cup of hot coffee, and you happen to own both a Fitbit and Belkin WeMo plug, the two can be used in conjunction with a simple recipe that automatically switches on your coffee machine the moment you wake from your slumber.
Warm up your bed
Sometimes you leave your window open for air during sleep, and all of a sudden in the middle of the night it's like Elsa came along and froze your entire town. With this Applet from Eight, if your Nest Thermostat senses that the temperature is a little too cold it'll activate your Eight bed warmer. The cold never bothered you anyway.
Make sure your garage is closed
You get home late, you're groggy and aren't thinking clearly. You just want to sleep. The next morning you walk outside only to find that you left your garage door open. How stupid! Well, unless you had this Applet. You just have to set a time of day, and if Garageio finds that your garage door is open it'll close it. Simple and carefree.
Setting a timer with Amazon Echo? You can add in the bonus of visual cues from the Philips Hue lightbulbs too in case you really don't want to forget the cake in the oven or miss the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Once the timer counts down to zero, the lights will blink.
Turn off Wi-Fi when not at home
Save power at home when you're at work by turning off the Wi-Fi. Then use the recipe to turn it back on when you get home. Your bank account will thank you when the monthly bill rolls around.
Turn off iDevice plugs when you leave
Nothing worse than that niggling feeling that you left something on during your usual rushed morning routine. It'll eat at you all day. If you use iDevice smart switches or outlets, this Applet will automatically turn them off when you leave a geo-fenced area - ie your home - to give you peace of mind.
Stop your teens stealing your booze
Of the many recipes you'll find on IFTTT, one of the most original is the idea of hooking it up to your drinks cabinet at home. Should anyone open the door to your Aladdin's cave of half-drunk, out-of-date holiday liqueurs, this setup will dial you straight away and let you know. The parenting end of the equation is up to you.
Lock your door behind you
Automatically locking your door behind you would be a problem if you needed keys to open it but, with a SmartThings system, one of the bonuses is that you can use your Android mobile phone to do it instead. When you and your cell cross the threshold, your location is reported to the main hub, which then bolts your house. So no more wondering whether or not you really did lock up. Just drive off into the sunset. Don't look back.
Use an old iPhone as a CCTV camera
If you happen to have an old iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android phone that you're no longer using, then why not turn it into a handy Wi-Fi camera that can monitor your home while you aren't there? The app can record video and send motion activated alerts to your email using a simple IFTTT recipe.
Party with Google
Feeling festive? Your favourite sports team do something cheer-worthy? With this Applet from Google, you can set your Philips Hue lights to do a multicolored loop by telling your Google Home the words "Ok Google, party time". Especially handy for people in countries where Google Assistant Routines are yet to roll out.
Match your lighting with Instagram
If you're somewhat of an Instagram addict and are the proud owner of the Philips Hue smart lighting system, you can intertwine the two to change your room's lighting to reflect the predominant colours of the latest photo you have uploaded. Want to fill your room with warmth after sunset? Simply take a snap of the setting sun and let IFTTT do the rest. This one's a bit niche, but could be fun.
Turn on lights when Ring senses motion
Burglars are a nuisance (kind of goes without saying, really), but they can be scared off if they think someone is at home. That's where this Applet from Ring comes from. You can set up your Philips Hue lights to come on when Ring senses something going on outside, scaring off the would-be burglars. Sure, it could just be a raccoon, but do you want to take that risk?
Definitely the least problem-solving on this list is the IFTTT recipe that switches your Philips Hue bulbs to purple while it rains outside. Again, it's the Yahoo Weather service that provides the precipitation reports while you appreciate your homemade Prince homage every time it pours. WARNING: Might get really old if you live somewhere like Seattle or London.
Loop colours on your Hue bulbs
If you want to get your money‚Äôs worth from those coloured Hue bulbs, try this little IFTTT applet. At the push of a button you can have all the colours of your bulb cycle, creating a light show in your living room. It will be a sure-fire hit with kids, guests and old people ‚Äď less useful in everyday life.
Lights up as the sun goes down
LIFX smart bulbs are the Kickstarter-created big rivals to the Philips Hue system and this recipe is a compelling USP. It links your bulbs' dimming skills to Yahoo Weather, to power up your lighting when the sun goes. You can then experience a magical phasing up of your home's electric light intensity as the hues from the outside world fade out into dusk. Beautiful, baby.
The Nest Thermostat is great and everything but it does have the odd moment, particularly as the seasons change. A sudden heat wave will leave it rather conflicted and the end result is that you can often come in from a scorching day to find your boiler motoring away at full pelt. That's where this IFTTT link up with Yahoo Weather comes in useful. It can very firmly let your Nest know that should the mercury hit a certain temp and beyond, it should shut itself down.
Send a text when your house gets hot
While Nest‚Äôs Learning Thermostat should be smart enough to make sure the house is warm when you return, this applet will send you a notification if your home‚Äôs temperature drops below a certain level. It‚Äôs a decent last line of defence against returning to a frozen house, especially during winter cold snaps.
There's an applet for watering your plants but there's also one for not watering them too. Why'd you want to do that? To save money and water by pausing your watering system automatically if it's going to rain the next day. What a time to be alive.
Stop watering when the wind is strong
You can tend to your smart garden all you want, but sometimes Mother Nature is going to get in the way, it's powerful winds sending your watering onto everything but your garden. You can avoid this by setting up this Applet, which will stop watering your garden if it's too windy to do so effectively - saving water.