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'Triggers' iOS app uses your phone or tablet's sensors in simple scripts

'Triggers' iOS app uses your phone or tablet's sensors in simple scripts


The Triggers iOS app allows users to set conditions on their devices and link them to outputs. Unfortunately, its high price and limited applicability make it more of a curiosity than anything else.

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We're always open to tools that help with automation or basic tech literacy, so our test of iOS app Triggers entailed a swift journey from joy to disappointment. Triggers uses the same basic idea as web automation tool If This Then That, allowing users to set a condition ("phone hears noise greater than 10") and define an output. Unfortunately, while If This Then That integrates a wide range of social networks, Triggers' inputs are basically limited to the physical sensors on the device. That means you'll be able to set conditions for acceleration, light, hand proximity to device, sound, or system time. It's not a bad set, but it's a shame that you can't set triggers for social networks, app launches, network signal strength, or even GPS location. The outputs are equally simple: besides a simple number counter, email, and URL notification, it's essentially phone vibration and flash lighting.

The design is purely utilitarian, with the option to save scripts or choose from a list of templates. You can also access the last ten scripts other users have saved, and although there's no form of curation, opening another user's script gives you the option to save it locally. The app template list includes the curiously named "Toast Detector," which sadly measures loud noises rather than burnt bread, but most of the possible scripts are proofs of concepts rather than time-savers. By far the biggest problem with Triggers, though, is that it can't run programs in the background or when the device is locked. That means any trigger we could imagine using (like a script I created to notify me when my phone was picked up) basically only works if you're willing to leave the app running and the phone unlocked. It's a great idea for an app, but considering the $3.99 price tag, you're better off with any number of other tools.