Realistically, this is the only programming I will ever have the desire or the ability to master. If the gods of technology smile upon me, it will be the only programming I will ever need. And I have a strong hunch that there are droves of curious but easily-overwhelmed techies just like me. Here’s how the entire language reads: If This Then That. It’s not really programming at all!
IFTTT (pronounced like gift minus the “g”) is a tool for making very simple and useful connections between web services and devices. The formula that serves as the foundation for this web service customization platform couldn’t be simpler: If This Then That, or, in other words – if I do X, then Y happens automatically.
For example, if I take a photo on Instagram, a copy of that same photo might automatically be saved in Dropbox. This particular formula is known as “a recipe”; the two services (Instagram & Dropbox) as “channels”; the first (in this case, Instagram) as the “trigger” that results in a particular “action” (the photo saving to Dropbox).
The team has tweaked terminology along the way. Describing how it works and defining the terms only makes matters needlessly complicated. At heart, IFTTT allows users to both automate web functions and to use them in tandem how they best serve each individual. Without any fancy programming skills!
Currently, this tool is an iPhone App in beta after nearly two years of being available only on desktop. An Android version should be on the way. Beside being brilliant for what it does, the startup also wisely encourages users to share their inventive discoveries. So far, there are almost 89,000 shared recipes that combine 69 channels (or services).
New recipes center on data mined from the camera, contacts, and reminder apps. The possibilities are both many and exciting. Gmail info easily becomes notes in Evernote. Meet someone new and receive automatic reminders to follow up on the contact. Update your employer on LinkedIn and simultaneously change your Facebook and Twitter accounts…
The concept is to make the phone almost as useful by virtue of what you don’t do as when your actually using it. It’s nearly hopeless to keep up with synchronizing, testing, remembering – making the best possible use of all the great services available online. IFTTT ingeniously allows even the clumsiest chef to combine the available ingredients into a tasty recipe.
For more details on IFTTT and possible uses of the service, check out Robert Scoble’s interview above with IFTTT Co-founder, Linden Tibbets. Have fun cooking!