If you’ve yet to come across IFTTT (If This Then That), you’re missing out — the Web and mobile apps that make up IFTTT let you connect together all kinds of apps and services for free.
You can send your Facebook photos to Dropbox, turn up your house lights in bad weather, save your fitness tracker logs to a spreadsheet, and much, much more besides.
Essential reading: The best smart home systems
Check out some of the example IFTTT recipes online to get an idea of what we’re talking about: each recipe includes a trigger and a resulting action (like turning your Nest thermostat on when your phone arrives in a certain location).
As well as working with a host of online services, IFTTT connects to some real-world physical gadgets — read on to discover some of the best bits of IFTTT compatible devices you can hook up to.
King of the smart lighting systems, Philips Hue light bulbs can alter the brightness and colour in your room. There’s pretty extensive control support available here from the Apple Watch to tinkering from your desktop PC. With IFTTT recipe support, it also means you can set up the Hues to do things like flash when there’s an update in a sports game or even turn the lights blue when it starts to rain.
The Nest thermostat is the stylish solution to keeping a closer eye on your heating. Once you’ve made it through the professional 20-minute installation and the sensor is in place, the next best thing is to get to know how it plays nice with IFTTT. There’s a whole collection of Nest-friendly recipes you can set up. When you exit a specific area, it can set the thermostat to a specific temperature and it’ll even work with other IFTTT-friendly devices including Philips Hue smart lightbulbs.
IFTTT support also extends to the Nest Protect alarm and rival thermostats from Tado and Honeywell do also get some recipe love too in case you were interested.
Smart home showdown: Nest versus Hive
Withings Smart Connected Scale
These smart scales can connect directly to the internet to report back your weight and BMI data to the cloud — it’s able to automatically recognise eight different users too, and the battery lasts a whole year. Add the Withings IFTTT channel to the mix and you can log your weight on a spreadsheet or (if you’re very brave) tweet it out for the world to see. For a more advanced device check out the Withings Smart Body Analyser.
The digital assistant packed into a speaker seems to get smarter by the week and with the addition of IFTTT support, it’s becoming even more useful. A quick browse of the Echo recipes shows how it can help you take notes hands-free with services like Evernote and OneNote. You can add shopping list items to Wunderlist and a whole lot more.
Read this: See our full Amazon Echo review
Jawbone’s flagship smart fitness tracker brings with it more advanced sleep tracking and bioimpedance sensors to measure your resting heart rate, as well as the usual mix of step and activity monitoring of previous bands. With IFTTT you can log meals when you check in at restaurants, or automatically schedule a workout when you know you’re heading to the gym, or keep a list of the days when you hit your targets, and so on.
Essential reading: Check out our full Jawbone UP3 review
LittleBits is the do-it-yourself smart home solution, a bunch of different components that you can use to create your own customised networks and add a new level of intelligence to older devices. Control lights with a tap on your phone, for example, or set up a pet feeder on a timer. By adding IFTTT’s full range of connected apps and services you can bring in all kinds of extra online and smartphone functions to your DIY smart home projects.
The Blaze is Fitbit’s most feature-packed fitness tracker offering a variety of sensors and different tracking modes for different types of activity; it can keep an eye on your heart rate, sleeping patterns and more. If you’re using the Fitbit app you can pipe all of this data back to Google Drive, Dropbox, your email, Twitter, Evernote and plenty of other places, and get customised alerts on your phone.
The Motion sensor is just one part of Belkin’s WeMo range for adding extra smarts to your home, and most of the kit works well with IFTTT. With a WeMo Motion sensor as your IFTTT trigger, you can choose all kinds of actions: get phone alerts when someone gets home, post to Facebook when someone reaches for the cookie jar, turn on the lights as soon as you get home, log all activity in a spreadsheet on Google Drive… there’s plenty of potential.
Flic is essentially just a button, but you can program it to perform all kinds of smart home tasks, and that’s where IFTTT can come in very handy: have it turn on or dim the lights, unlock a smart door, make your phone ring, start or stop a music app, act as a smartphone camera remote control, and more. The Flic IFTTT page gives you some more ideas of what you can do — push the button to save your current location to a map, for example.