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One challenge of the smart home is that there are so many disconnected platforms competing for your time. It’s less of a refined ecosystem, and more like the wild west.
What Is IFTTT?
The premise behind IFTTT is that by automating different home processes, your life can become simpler, safer, and more efficient. For example, instead of manually configuring all of your smart lights to go on or off at a particular time, or walking back and forth to check the status of the washer (shudder the thought) IFTTT will automate these processes instead.
IFTTT essentially follows basic programming principles, where you issue commands to a computer given a set of parameters. In this case, you create “recipes” on IFTTT to string a set of commands together that are triggered by a specific command, measurement, or signal.
Popular recipes link specific smart appliance functions to your location, the time of day, or a measurement from a different smart sensor in your home. If you have an Alexa or Google Home, IFTTT will truly improve your smart home experience, as you have a lot of options for recipes based in their voice-recognition capabilities.
If you’re new to the system or want to expand your skill set, here are some solid IFTTT recipes to get you started.
1. Tell Alexa to Lock Up at Night
Walking around the house and shutting off the lights is so last century. Instead, you can deputize Alexa to handle this task for you with this applet.
This recipe requires a connection to smart lights from Philips Hue and smart garage door platform Garageio. It won’t lock your non-smart front door, but it’ll handle most of the tasks that come with the nightly shut-down routine. It’s worth running through this a few times before you shut things down for the night to be sure that everything is in order.
2. Know When the Laundry’s Done
Don’t let your clothes go into the mold zone. Letting them hang out in the washer for hours after they’ve gone through the spin cycle isn’t good.
This applet, which works with Samsung smart washing machines, will ping your phone when it’s almost time for a new load. By default, it will notify you ten minutes before the cycle ends, but you can customize that to what suits your needs best.
As with all things laundry, it may take some time to learn the right amount of alert time to best fit with your routine.
3. Get ESPN Alerts From Xfinity
While cord cutting may be all the rage, a cable subscription still makes the most sense for sports fans. Xfinity Labs put out an interesting applet for Comcast subscribers that will ping you right on the television when there’s a newsworthy update about your favorite team. Select which teams you want to know about, and you’ll never miss an update again.
4. Arm Your Blink Security System
Security systems are a natural fit for smart home automation. This applet will arm your Blink system when you leave the house. You’ll need to configure the system to link up your location with Blink and integrate with IFTTT. Once you do, it’ll be one less thing to think about when leaving the house.
5. Automatically Switch to “Night Mode”
This clever applet from Weather Underground will dim your Hue lights, set the Nest thermostat to an ideal temperature, and turn on a connected WeMo light switch at a pre-determined time. That’s the strength of using a platform like IFTTT for these circumstances: you’re able to connect three different platforms at once to ease your life and perhaps impress some houseguests.
6. Fire Up Your Honeywell Lyric Fan
Consider this more advanced recipe for those who really want to bend their smart home to their will. The Foobot air quality monitor has become a popular way to keep track of all of those nasty things that can creep into your indoor air. So it’s an ideal companion for the Honeywell Lyric fan when it comes to improving what you’re breathing.
With this applet, your home will automatically crank up the fan once the air quality degrades to a certain level. It’s one of many smart products the Lyric company offers that work rather well together, although extra integrations certainly can help.
7. Tell Google Assistant to Call Your Phone
We’ve all been there. You need to reach for your phone, and suddenly it’s not there. A search of the house doesn’t turn it up, so you have to resort to calling it or spending hours turning over every cushion until it turns up.
There might be a better way. With this applet, you can tell the Google Assistant that your phone is missing (this is the artificial intelligence that powers your Google Home) and ask it to give your phone a ring. This way you don’t have to ask your spouse, significant other, or roommate to make the call of shame. It’s one of those simple implementations that can make a major dividend later on when it matters the most.
8. Work Smarter
Sometimes you just need to hog all the bandwidth. This recipe will help you do that, because it gives you power with your Google Wifi to prioritize certain devices given the time of day. So if the evening belongs to your iPad, you can schedule that ahead of time so you’re set to surf without the need to compete with all the other devices in the house.
9. Find Out Who’s at the Door
Security cameras have been a boon for the home, giving you an extra bit of control and knowledge over who may be at the door. This recipe allows you to automate that process, taking a screenshot that is saved to your account’s inbox. It could prove to be invaluable should something go missing or strange behavior go on in the neighborhood.
10. Tell Alexa to Start the Party
Sometimes you need a recipe that is exclusively focused on fun. This recipe will do that by putting your Philips Hue Lights on a color loop. Once you say the magic phrase, “Alexa, trigger party time” your house will be awash in flashing lights that can start off your Friday night jamboree.
Create Your Own IFTTT Recipe
Finally, if you’ve used a number of pre-programmed options, but none of them are exactly what you are looking for, then it may be time to take the next step and do one yourself.
You start by choosing a service.
In this example, I’ve chosen Alexa. Then, you choose a specific trigger
You can choose a preprogrammed trigger field or create your own, depending upon the service. In this example, I’ve selected “say a specific phrase.” Then, write the phrase you want to use (you’ll need to use lower-case letters only).
Next, choose an action to connect with this trigger.
In this case, I’ve chosen Almond, which is a smart home Wi-Fi system.
I’ll set an Almond mode from the choices. Next, I’m going to tell IFTTT to turn off Wi-Fi in one of the zones when it hears the Alexa trigger phrase.
Then, you review the new recipe to see if it meets all the requirements.
By default, you’ll receive a push alert when it runs. You can return to the IFTTT site to try a new recipe or look for others if this exercise inspires you to explore more.
The Always Evolving Smarter Home
To truly make your home smart, you have to invest some time yourself in making it work best for you. IFTTT is a good place to start, because it’s very strong at integrating different products together.
However, it’s a rapidly evolving space. Very few products work best if you just “set it and forget it.” Companies are constantly pushing out software updates and new features to keep them ahead of the curve. So while IFTTT can certainly help, let it be a springboard to a deeper understanding of how all this smart home tech works.
Do you have any favorite IFTTT recipes for the smart home? Or are there some that had promise and proved to be a bust? Let us know about them in the comments.