Ask insiders which services they think are most interesting and innovative, and you’ll begin to hear the strange word IFTTT repeated.
The service, whose name is an acronym for “if this then that,” gives users the opportunity to create if/then tasks across services. For instance, the next time a Craigslist posting goes up that meets the user’s search criteria, s/he can get an email.
This writer tried it out a few weeks ago and found it of limited use, since there are already browser extensions and widgets that can connect many Web services to email, social networks or the desktop calendar app. But today, IFTTT launched as an app for iPhone, where connecting the functions of distinct mobile apps will make it much more useful.
For instance, a user can send herself a text message on the first or last of each month by connecting a calendar app and the SMS app. IFTTT also suggests connecting the Reminders app with Jawbone’s UP app to record workouts.
The formula clearly comes right out of programming constructions, making it potentially confusing for an average user. But IFTTT makes it much more approachable by allowing users to browse through suggested uses, which are displayed with logos.
Mobile innovators believe that soon our phones will be able to make many of these connections for us. For instance, if it’s 12:30 and I activate my phone, open it to a Yelp page displaying nearby restaurants open for lunch, and emphasize Indian food because, as my phone knows via checkins (or those promising tumeric sensors of the future?), I like Indian.
In the meantime, there’s IFTTT.