IFTTT meets iPhone: a powerful productivity pair

IFTTT (If This Then That), a powerful way to program different aspects of your digital life to interact with one another, has always been web-based — until today. On Thursday the company is releasing its first native mobile app, also called IFTTT (pronounced like “gift” without the g). Adding iOS capabilities is the next logical step for the product and having had a chance to play with it, can tell you it’s amazing.

IFTTT for iPhone - Intro Screen 01
The concept of IFTTT is that you take “channels” such as Foursquare, Facebook(s FB) or Instagram and have them interact with other channels such as Evernote, Google Drive,(s GOOG) or Dropbox to create what the company calls recipes. The process of creating your own recipe is extremely easy, but it’s often even easier still to just to use existing recipes created by other users. One of the more popular ones: emailing you when certain keywords are used in Craigslist. As a business owner, I’ve been using this for years for when someone posts a resume online.

IFTTT for iPhone - Create a Recipe 02On first glance the IFTTT iPhone app (it’s not currently available for iPad) as a way to access channels and recipes while on a mobile device is more of an evolutionary move. Current users of IFTTT already know the mobile experience of the web version of the app was difficult; the iOS app makes the experience of creating and browsing recipes while mobile extremely easy.

Accessing new channels is still clunky and requires a one-time log-in to those services such as Google or UP, so it’s still easier to add channels via the web where credentials among services can be shared. Once a channel is added you don’t need to reauthorize it.

Creating recipes, however, is actually easier on the iPhone than the web because the channels can be scrolled by swiping across the screen so you are able to see the full set of actions (“triggers”) available in that channel. I have been a user of IFTTT, but really started having fun playing — I mean being productive — while using the iPhone app.

iOS Notifcation for IFTTTAnother feature of IFTTT for the iPhone is receiving notifications when a recipe has run. While I have recipes that email me when certain events happen, for some key functions (let’s say you are looking for a hard-to-get item via Craigslist) the push notification gives me notice right away without having to wait for email and allows me to act upon it immediately.

Finally — and here’s where the magic comes in — IFTTT adds three new channels specific to the iPhone: iOS Contacts, iOS Reminders and iOS Photos, and I’m hoping more are on the way. The iOS Photo channels can detect the type of picture created or the camera used (front or rear) to create some powerful recipes.
iOS Reminders for IFTTT
One recipe I liked was taking any iOS screenshot photo and adding them to a particular Dropbox folder. In fact, all the screenshots for this article were taken this way (and I didn’t have to worry about Photostream or Wi-Fi). A second iOS-specific channel, iOS Reminders, can use Siri to trigger events and extend Siri’s voice commands to interact with other iOS channels. If you can tell Siri to put something on a Reminder list, you can then trigger other IFTTT events from there.

Here is an example of a fun recipe I created: if I say “Add IFTTT to my Article Ideas list,” Siri will add it to a specific reminder list I have and then add it to a specific notebook in Evernote. Now when I come up with an interesting article idea, I can dictate it to Siri and she adds both a reminder and a note in Evernote I can use to draft the idea. If you can put it on a reminder list you can trigger something in IFTTT.
IFTT and Siri
IFTTT for the iPhone not only makes the IFTTT experience mobile but adds some powerful iOS-specific channels to create more powerful recipes and extend the capabilities of Siri, at least until iOS 7 makes her more intelligent.

For more about IFTTT’s new iOS app, be sure to listen to the company’s CEO on GigaOM’s Internet of Things podcast.