Fascinating Site Makes The Internet Work For You


Here's a free online service which will make you think one of 2 different things.  Either you'll reckon it's a hideous invasion of privacy, or you'll think it's the biggest improvement to your online presence in years.  Or possibly both.

The service in question is called If This Then That, or IFTTT for short (it's pronounced like Gift without the G).  You can find it at www.ifttt.com and it works with just about all major browsers.

IFTTT allows you to construct rules, or recipes as the site calls them.  A rule lets you specify that  if a certain thing happens on one site, then automatically do something else on another site.  As to what happens, and what you can do in response, it's all tightly controlled and easy to manage by simply selecting from lists.

The service supports dozens of third-party sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Pinterest, Tumblr, Dropbox, and many more.  A typical recipe might say "If someone tags me in a photo on Facebook, send me a message about it on Gmail".  Or "If someone mentions me on Twitter, send them the contents of a file from my Dropbox".  

Needless to say, the system needs you to grant it access to your accounts on any services which are the subject of a rule.   

As I said, invasion of privacy or the best thing since sliced bread. Whatever the answer, you have to admit that it's extremely clever and definitely worth a look.



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Programming for the Facebook generation! I suppose some privacy fears could be allayed by having an intermediary holding account for the service; used just for IFTTT. At the moment, I use the Chrome extension Page Monitor for alerts to website changes and find it very useful. Looking at the "recipes" shared by users most are fairly mundane typically moving stuff for reading between services or copying stuff to Evernote. One person though had posted a recipe for turning the light on at Sunrise!

Most if not all of the sites IFTTT uses should support access token based authentication, so you theoretically shouldn't have to give IFTTT any of your passwords or anything. Whether they make proper use of these token APIs I don't know, and if they do, it would ideally be very granular... like to the point of IFTTT has access to ONLY share a link to THIS ONE file in my Dropbox, etc.

My guess is IFTTT didn't think that far ahead. These services that sound so awesome never do. Of course a lot of that granularity depends on the API as well. But then I don't really plan on signing up to find any of this out.

I use IFTTT. However, I use it to send SMS. I try not to allow anything to access my facebook, etc. But for getting alerts via text, it works great. I'm looking forward to creating some recipes of my own. Thus far I've simply used and tweaked others' recipes.