IF THIS THEN THAT gets better with iOS

The outstanding IFTTT service now has iOS support

A few years ago I wrote about a free service called "If This Then That" (otherwise known as IFTTT), an elegant and clever way to implement simple online task automation. The service is still free, still extremely useful, and still elegant and clever but, with the addition of an iOS app, now it's even more powerful.

The site's name describes the structure of tasks called "recipes" the service runs for you. The "this" part is a trigger, such as "IF I'm tagged in a photo on Facebook" or "IF I tweet on Twitter."

The "that" part is what happens when the trigger occurs, for example, "THEN send me a text message" or "THEN create a status message on Facebook."

Both triggers and actions are derived from "channels" which include Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, email, weather data, and RSS feeds (31 channels were available when I first wrote about IFTTT, there are now 77).

Some IFTT recipes as seen on the Web site

So, for instance, you could set up a task such as "IF tomorrow's forecast calls for rain THEN using Gmail send a message to (email address) that reports 'rain tomorrow!'" Or,  "IF every hours at 0 minutes past the hour THEN using Gmail send 'This is your mail check. The time is now {{CheckTime}}'".

In that last example, the string "{{CheckTime}}" is an add-in variable or "ingredient". IFTTT offers a list of valid add-ins to choose from for each argument in a given trigger and action combination. For example, for the time check task the add-ins for the trigger are number of minutes past the hour (0, 15, 30, and 45 are supported) while for the action the valid message body add-ins are the time and the date the check is executed.

You can have up to 10 tasks active at one time (although you can define as many as you like) and each task is executed once every 15 minutes. There's no premium service or upgrade to the free service so you're limited to just those ten recipes per account (though establishing multiple account probably (ahem) happens).

IFTTT was a terrific resource on the Web back when I first wrote about it but now the IFTTT team has gone one better and released an iOS app that extends recipes so you can use iOS features ... this makes the app thoroughly brilliant (it requires iOS 6.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and optimized for iPhone 5).

The IFTTT iOS app showing recipes in an account

With the IFTTT app you can see and edit all of the recipes you've created, create new ones, as well as switch recipes on and off and see the log of recipes that have been run.

The IFTTT iOS app showing the log of recipes run

While that's neat, it's the new channels that make the app really cool. These include adding a new iOS contact, entering or exiting a geolocated  area, taking a photo with either the front or back camera or either , taking a screenshot, adding a photo to an album, adding a reminder or adding a reminder to a specific list, or completing a reminder in a list.

A few of the best recipes that rely on iOS are "email me my new iPhone photos", "back up my contacts to a Google spreadsheet", "save my iOS photos to Dropbox", and "Nearly home? Direct Message the person who should know".

This is a service you've got to try. Whether it's just to manage your photos (which makes tham a lot more manageable than Apple's photo streams) or to make sure you don't lose a contact, there's nothing quite like IFTTT.

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