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IFTTT brings automation to the iPhone

IFTTT brings automation to the iPhone


Recipes now begin with Photos, Contacts, and Reminders

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ifttt app
ifttt app

IFTTT (If This, Then That), a clever website for linking together various other web services, on Thursday launched its first iPhone app. IFTTT for iPhone brings many of the service's trademark features to mobile devices, while adding the ability to create new recipes using apps that are already on your phone. For example, you can have the app upload any screenshots you take to Dropbox, or email a friendly "Nice to meet you" to any newly added contacts using your Gmail account. IFTTT for iPhone can even feed your completed Reminders tasks into your Jawbone UP feed — or to a meticulously organized Google Doc.

An automatically generated Tumblr blog filled with selfies

As with everything IFTTT, you'll have to get creative to truly take advantage of the service's three new channels: Photos, Reminders, and Contacts. For example, you could have IFTTT create a new Google Calendar event every time you add a contact, so you can keep track of when you meet people, or you could have IFTTT post every selfie you take to a Tumblr blog you've created. Yep, there's an IFTTT trigger that activates only for photos taken using your phone's front-facing camera. You can optionally receive push notifications when any of your recipes run their course.

IFTTT for iPhone screenshots


The only problem is that recipes using these new channels only trigger when you open the IFTTT app, since iOS doesn't let apps persistently run in the background. This means that when you take a new photo, it will only upload if you remember to open IFTTT afterwards. You can turn on "background sync," an increasingly common hack used by developers that lets iOS apps run in the background briefly when you change locations, but it could potentially hurt your battery life. Android inevitably feels like a much better fit for IFTTT, with its myriad in-app hooks and integrations, and fortunately, the company says an Android app is coming at some point.

The meaning of IFTTT can at first be hard to grasp — it's an API switchboard, after all — but the company's iPhone app could change that and potentially help the service acquire many new users. "Any time I take a selfie, IFTTT can auto-post it to Facebook?" That, most people can understand.