IFTTT BRINGS CONDITIONAL LOGIC TO “THE NORMALS” WITH IOS APP

IFTTT BRINGS CONDITIONAL LOGIC TO “THE NORMALS” WITH IOS APP

Shane BarnhillTuesday,16 July 2013

The Snap:

Last week, IFTTT (“If This, Then That”) brought its web service for automating connections between websites, social networks and apps to iOS devices via the release of a native iPhone app. IFTTT, for those not familiar, ties these apps and websites together with “recipes” that help keep its users organized. For example, using IFTTT, an iPhone owner can automatically upload all new iPhone photos to Flickr, without actually having to visit Flickr to manually upload them. Or, one can use IFTTT to back up Facebook photos to Dropbox whenever a friend tags them. IFTTT can even be configured to send you a text message when a weather app detects that it has started to rain. The beauty of IFTTT is the automation. Once a new recipe (a connection between apps) is set up, it runs automatically in the background, waiting to be triggered by a specific action. The new IFTTT app is iPhone-only for now, although a version for Google Play is supposedly coming soon (once again, you’re SOL for now Android suckers!).

The Download:

Despite its obvious value, IFTTT has remained something of a secret among tech nerds. Hell, there are even a lot of nerds who haven’t heard of IFTTT, although they’re clearly IFTTT’s target for early adoption; for those who’ve written code in their lifetimes, IFTTT makes perfect sense. It relies on the most basic form of conditional logic that all programmers learn — the If… Then statement, in which an action is triggered whenever another one occurs. But for the non-nerds out there, the concept of IFTTT can take some getting used to. Perhaps aware of this reality, the development team at IFTTT has taken a handful of steps to highlight its usefulness for “The Normals” of the world.

First, the IFTTT team constructed what might be the best walkthrough guide that I’ve seen in a while. Normally, when I fire up an app for the first time and I encounter a set of step-by-step instructions, I immediately think that a poorly-designed experience is about to follow. I’m kind of an app snob that way (although I’m usually right). However, I have to give IFTTT a pass here, since it’s a product that most of The Normals don’t know they need until they use it. IFTTT isn’t food, water, or shelter, but it sure makes life a heck of a lot easier when you’ve been manually creating your own cross-app workflows for a long time — and fortunately, IFTTT’s walkthrough provides just the right “Ah ha!” moment for new users. After swiping through the app’s walkthrough screens, IFTTT’s value is crystal clear.

Next, IFTTT builds upon the walkthrough experience with a clean, well-designed app. The main screen in IFTTT is a timeline, which displays recipes that have been triggered by the current day’s activity (e.g. new photos that have been uploaded to Flickr or Dropbox). But the app’s screens for creating and searching for recipes are its real strength. They’re purposely simply, rely on a lot of white space, and remove all extraneous information in order to encourage users to get creative with finding and designing connections between the apps and websites that they rely on.

Of course, any talk of connecting daily go-to apps would be incomplete without mentioning Twitter, which famously cut off the most valuable part of IFTTT’s API access back in 2012. While IFTTT users can still tweet out links to interesting recipes, Twitter does not allow use of tweets as inputs into IFTTT recipes. This means no convenient bookmarks in Pocket or Delicious any time particular hashtags are used in tweets, no IFTTT-based cross-posting to other social networks, and no archival of tweets with Evernote.

But despite Twitter’s glaring absence, IFTTT is both a useful service and a smartly-designed app. New users will get the app’s value proposition right away, and longtime IFTTT fans will be thrilled with the simplicity of the native app experience. It remains to be seen whether IFTTT’s user base will grow significantly by launching on iOS first, however. My hunch is that the iPhone app will provide a only modest bump, ahead of a much larger boom when IFTTT comes to Android, where the hardcore nerds (I use “nerds” as a term of admiration, FWIW) can hack away.


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Hat Tips:

TechCrunch, Chris Dixon, The Next Web, Image Credit: Flickr



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  1. […] “IFTTT has remained something of a secret among tech nerds. Hell, there are even a lot of nerds who haven’t heard of IFTTT, although they’re clearly IFTTT’s target for early adoption; for those who’ve written code in their lifetimes, IFTTT makes perfect sense.”  But will the new app catch on? Read more on The Snap Download… […]

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