We love APIs. Moreover, we love when someone takes a combination of APIs and creates a useful and intuitive product everyone needs.
For me, that app is If This Then That (aka IFTTT). I discovered it several days ago and have since used it to automate large segments of my work. Which means more time for me to focus on the important stuff, like listening to our beta users.
The idea is simple. You create layers of logic (called “recipes”) above dozens of different integrated services (“channels”), such as Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, your email and calendar, RSS, text messages, and many others. This way, you can automate different actions you normally take during the day, saving you time to do other things.
The potential recipes are endless, but here are some useful examples:
- Our team has set IFTTT to automatically tweet/post our blogs as soon as they go live on RSS. No more bugging everyone in the office to use social media to promote content.
- When I Bitmark a URL using Bitly’s Chrome extension, IFTTT automatically loads the Bitmarked URL into our Buffer queue. One click and I’m done.
- Our Buffer account now automatically queues new blog posts from companies we love, like KISSmetrics and SEOmoz, as well as Brad Feld’s blog. Which means I spend less time filling our queue with good content.
Note: there is a danger in automating things like this. If a normally reliable blog decides to go off the rails one day and claim the moon landing was staged, or write a ten paragraph extended metaphor about how startups are like honey badgers, you don’t want to automatically Tweet it. Better to load everything into Buffer and then monitor your queue.
- When we tweet a photo from our @fullcontactapi Twitter account, that photo is automatically posted to Instagram as well.
- IFTTT sends me a text message for my pre-set weather conditions, like anytime it is going to snow or rain, or when the wind will be above 20 MPH. I’ve also set it to send me a text each day with the following day’s weather conditions, so I don’t have to check in the morning.
- Every time someone tags me on Facebook, a copy of the photo is automatically saved to my Dropbox and Google Drive.
There are potentially thousands of other creative applications, and we’re just getting started integrating all of our channels. IFTTT also allows you to share recipes and to quickly adopt the shared recipes of others, meaning you can take advantage of someone else’s creativity. Plus, the interface is about as easy to use as they come.
Our only gripe is that in a recipe, you can’t create multiple actions for the same trigger, such as posting to Facebook and Instagram when I tweet a new photo. IFTTT could also use a few more key integrations, but we assume those will happen over time.
All things considered, it’s a stellar app and worthy of a prime spot in your toolkit. Zapier has a similar and more extensive platform meant for business applications, and we’ll review that in a future blog post. (It’s also integrated with our FullContact Card Reader app, letting you scan business cards into hundreds of other applications.)
A quick warning, though. This app is dangerously addicting. Once you start playing around with different recipes, you may have difficulty getting back on task. The number of ways you can potentially automate your life and workflow with IFTTT is enormous, so block off some time on a rainy day before you go to town.
Know of any great apps we should feature? Let us know!