IFTTT 101


IFTTT Screenshots: homepageIFTTT Screenshots: servicesIFTTT Screenshots: Grant Alerts

I’ve been asked about how I use IFTTT (IF This Then That). which is an app for connecting digital devices and streams in creative and interesting ways. Basically, it allows you to automate ways different tech things can talk to each other, or, as they describe it, ” helps your apps and devices work together in new ways.” Actually I think the real question was about how I use social media, broadly, but this was part of the question, and it’s way easier to answer, so I’m going to start here, with an overview of some interesting recipes, followed by how to find them, and how to make them.

ComputerWorld (2019): What is IFTTT? How to use If This, Then That services
With 11 million users running more than a billion applets a month, IFTTT hopes to become a service that connects pretty much everything — though some users say it still has room for improvement.

RECIPES AND APPLETS

These are some IFTTT recipes and applets that I either actually use, or wish maybe I could. (Hey, I can’t afford all those fancy-schmancy smart home devices!) These include things that streamline some of my work, help me keep up to date, manage my work-life balance, support accommodations for health issues and safety concerns, keep me in tune with hobbies and interests, and more!

Notice that there are often multiple recipes to accomplish what looks like the same task. These are usually made by different people. Sometimes they refine an earlier idea to make it better (like shifting from “remind me to drink water” to “remind me to drink water when I’m not asleep”!), sometimes not so much. If you forget you already have one recipe going for a task, you can end up with duplicate emails or Flickr posts or things like that. And be accused of spamming your Flickr followers. Sometimes you want to try both out to see which one works better. Some of the Instagram to Flickr recipes only work for one image at a time, or one a day, while others are more flexible and robust and will capture everything you do. There are dozens of recipes to help you remember to take your medicines or vitamins at a particular time of day. At least one of them will actually trigger your device to speak aloud to remind you! There are several to send alerts if there is a new clinical trial on diabetes, or asthma, or skin cancer, or …

You get the idea. The basic message is “BUYER” BEWARE. Test it out, try it out, and be prepared to turn it off if it doesn’t do what you expected. Also, watch for unexpected side effects. There have been the occasional report of an IFTTT recipe that, maybe, sends email AS you instead of TO you, just as an example. Another example was someone who used a device to automatically lock their door when they weren’t at home, set up a recipe to verify the door was locked if the door saw an unfamiliar face, then forgot about the recipe, and had trouble trying to UNLOCK the door when it didn’t recognize him. So you want to be careful. Also, just because I link to a recipe below doesn’t mean these have all been vetted or tested. These are examples of the kinds of things you can do with IFTTT, and I have tested SOME of those listed here.

Alert: Reminder to drink water every hour unless you’re asleep (I actually use this as a reminder to take a 3 minute exercise/movement break each hour)

Clinical Trials: Get an email when ClinicalTrials.gov publishes a new trigger or action

Grants: Get an email when there’s a new education-related grant
Grants: Get an email when there’s a new grant that mentions your state or city
Grants: Get an email when there’s a new health-related grant

IFTTT: Get an email when a new service is published on IFTTT

Instagram: Post your Instagram photos to Flickr

NASA: Get a notification when the International Space Station passes over your house
NASA: Receive NASA’s Image of the Day in your inbox
NASA: Did an astronaut exit space? Get a notification
NASA: Did an astronaut enter space? Get a notification

News: Get an email from the New York Times whenever there is breaking technology news
News: Get a weekly email digest of new Pew Research technology articles
News: Automatically tweet updates from Pew Research

Safety: Get yourself out of an awkward situation (International)
Safety: Google Home Find My Phone (“When you ask Google home to find your phone it turns the ringer to 100% and places a VOIP call through IFTT.”
Safety: Ok Google, call my device
Safety: Hey Alexa, call my device

Self-tracking: Log how much time you spend at specific locations like the office or home in a spreadsheet
Self-tracking: Track your work hours in Google Calendar
Self-tracking: When I buy a coffee, log calories to iOS Health

Smart Home: Call me if Roost detects a water leak
Smart Home: Turn on/off your lights with one tap on your phone
Smart Home: Turn on Smart Life device at sunset
Smart Home: Get your Hue Lights to colour loop when it’s Christmas

Twitter: If Twitter #HASHTAG, Then IF Notification

WHO: Get alerts if there’s a disease outbreak news from the World Health Organization

WUnderground: Rain tomorrow? Get a mobile notification
WUnderground: Get a notification and an email if there’s going to be snow tomorrow

YouTube: Add songs from videos you like to a Spotify playlist

Highlighted collections from IFTTT

DISCOVERY: Finding IFTTT Recipes to Meet Your Needs

How do you find these? I usually browse the “Discover” section of the IFTTT app, but I also search for keywords and browse other people’s recommendations. The metadata is dependent on the person who created the recipe, so the words in the title can be really weird sometimes. It helps to get really creative with related words.

IFTTT: Discover: https://ifttt.com/discover

The Ambient, Smart Home (2019): IFTTT essential guide: The best IFTTT Applets for your automated smart home

PC Magazine (2019): The 25 Best IFTTT Applets: If This Then That (IFTTT) integrates activities across your digital services and devices. Here are some of our favorite combinations, or applets.

ComputerWorld (2017): 41 cool and useful IFTTT applets: Want to automatically save articles you’ve liked on Twitter to Pocket? There’s an IFTTT applet for that – and for a lot of other things, too.

Trusted Reviews (2016): 35 amazingly useful IFTTT recipes to simplify your life

Lifehack (2013): 35 Super Useful IFTTT Recipes You Might Not Know About

DIY: Making Your Own IFTTT Recipe

The next question for me, and something I haven’t done yet, is, hmmm, what about all those journal alerts? And search strategies? Or Google News alerts? I wouldn’t want a phone alert for everything, but there might be some where I’d like to know. I can imagine that some of the faculty medical librarians support might like to have something set up for grants in their field, new publication alerts on the topic of their most recent systematic review, or even if someone cited their articles. I don’t know how hard it would be to do this, but I can certainly imagine that we might want to! So, here is an article about how to get started.

How to create an IFTTT recipe https://support.meshprj.com/hc/en-us/articles/213717818-How-to-create-an-IFTTT-recipe

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