What is IFTTT? How does it work and why do you need it?

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  • IFTTT – or to give it its full name ‘If This, Then That’ – is a super handy app for a smart home. Pronounced like ‘gift’ but without the ‘g’, it’s an external service that works with a wide variety of smart home tech, like smart lighting, to make our homes more automated.

    IFTTT is a space where developers can submit mini programs called Applets and where we, as consumers, can access them to make our lives easier.

    What are apps?

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    Applets are mini programs that sync to your smart device (or devices) via the IFTTT app and react to certain actions. Or to put it simply – if you do this, then that happens.

    There are well over a million apps to choose from, the majority of which you’ll never truly need. But by introducing some of them to your smart home devices you can make your home more automated.

    For instance, do you have trouble hearing your best video doorbell ring? You can sync it to your lights to make them flash when someone’s at the door. There are almost endless choices available.

    How do I join IFTTT?

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    IFTTT is completely free to join and you can either sign up via the website or download the app on an iOS or Android device. There is the option to subscribe to an IFTTT Pro account which incurs a fee, but unless you’re seriously tech savvy, you probably won’t need it.

    What does IFTTT cost?

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    The standard membership is completely free and with that you can enable up to five apps of your choice. This is the easiest and best option if you’re trying to cut back and find ways to save energy at home.

    Want more? Then you’ll have to go for a subscription. For £2.90 per month, you can upgrade to IFTTT Pro. This allows you the use of up to 20 apps – you also get faster applet speeds and access to IFTTT’s customer support.

    For complete access, IFTTT Pro+ costs £7.70 per month and gives you unlimited apps and you can connect multiple accounts, and more. As mentioned, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need this level of coverage for a normal family home, so we’d suggest you start with the free service. If you are enjoying using the service and want to enable more than five apps, then you can consider subscribing to unlock more access.

    Is IFTTT worth the hassle?

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    This is entirely up to you. It’s true that you can access many of these actions using the various smart home apps, like Apple HomeKit or Google Home. But if you have a variety of devices from different brands, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to ‘speak’ to each other. What’s more, setting up a variety of separately tends to be quite complicated actions and time consuming.

    Syncing an applet to your device using IFTTT is very easy. Once signed up, you search the available apps – either via the device you have or the action you want your device to achieve.

    Once you’ve found the one you want, slide right on the button to connect it. You may have to give IFTTT access to the accounts that link to the applet, but once you have, that’s it.

    It’s worth remembering that IFTTT is best connected to your location services on your smartphone. This allows it to trigger actions when you enter or exit an area or access local weather information.

    Can I unsync apps?

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    If an applet becomes unnecessary (or annoying!), you can unselect it at any time. For example, if you use a smart plug for your Christmas tree lights for the month of December, you can choose an applet that makes them turn on automatically at sunset and off again at bedtime.

    Come January, you need just swipe left on the applet and that schedule will disappear, leaving you free to use the plug elsewhere in your home.

    What are the smart home brands on IFTTT?

    You’ll find apps to help you connect your voice assistants to do specific actions. All the main smart home brands are represented on IFTTT.

    Tado, Nest, Netatmo, Hive and Lightwave are just some of the smart heating brands that have apps on IFTTT. From smart lighting, there are apps for Philips Hue, WiZ, Nanoleaf and more. Meanwhile, names with smart security apps include Boundary, Ring, Swann and EZVIZ.

    And as the service is free, you’re under no obligations to pay for anything or even use the apps, so you can just sign up to have a look at what’s available.

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