When I first received my Amazon Echo Dot (full review here), I was wondering how I could link it to my phone- specifically, if I could use the voice-controlled Alexa feature to help me find my phone when I would lose it in my dorm room. During my research, I stumbled across an app called IFTTT that allowed me to not only improve my Amazon Echo Dot, but other devices as well. Here are my experiences with the app.
What is IFTTT?
IFTTT (If This, Then That) is an app that allows users to browse and create their own custom programs, or applets, to connect various web services and devices. It takes less than a minute to create or enable an applet and start using it- no programming experience necessary. Users sign up for a free account in order to use the service.
I have the IFTTT app installed on my iPad running iOS 10 and my Android phone running Lollipop. I also have the IFTTT skill enabled on my Amazon Echo Dot 2nd generation. In addition, I use various web services with the app. Download it on iOS here and on Android here.
The app features very colorful, easy to identify squares for each service, with bold high-contrast text. It only takes two gestures to enable an app- tap on the square, and swipe to enable the applet. Some applets may require additional authorization if you are connecting it with an account for the first time, like Twitter.
There’s hundreds of different applets for a variety of devices, and users can browse by device type, or based on web service. Applets are very simple, two line programs, that trigger an action if a certain condition is met. For example, if I ask Alexa to call my phone, then the device will call my phone so I can find it. It does not enable applets at random.
With a grid layout, high-contrast text, and easy to identify tiles, this app is awesome for users with visual impairments, especially low vision. The app worked great with VoiceOver as well, and I found it easy to read the various tiles and enable skills.
Ease of use
While this app may sound like it is only for technology-minded people (or, as a friend once put it, computer whisperers), the app does not require any background in programming or technology. If someone can unlock their phone, then they can use this app. After all, it’s designed to make life easier.
Creating an applet
If for some reason you can’t find an applet, it’s easy enough to create one. Users choose what device or service they want to use, and then choose what they want the second service to do. At this time, users cannot select skills or services that are not available inside the app, so I strongly recommend checking out existing applets before creating a new one. After the applet is created, it can be shared with the IFTTT community- though no information other than the IFTTT username is shared.
What I’ve used it for
I’ve used various IFTTT applets across many of my devices. Here are some examples:
- Real time rain and snow alerts to my phone and iPad
- Calling my phone when an alarm goes off
- Organizing Google Spreadsheets
- Posting to Twitter
- Email alerts for new laws
- Managing my website with WordPress
In the future, I hope to test the various smart home features, especially the ones for lights and temperature. I would love to be able to set those things with my voice and not have to stand up to do so.
My most-used applets
My most used applets are the ones that give me information about the weather. I get migraines and chronic pain flare ups based on the weather at times, so having this information easy to access has been extremely helpful for me in planning activities.
IFTTT has been an extremely handy app that I rarely think about, because everything is automated for me. I especially love the interface of the app and how it is easy to access with my low vision. I highly recommend this app for anyone who is looking to increase the capabilities of their various smart devices.