The Amazon Echo, Tap and Dot now play nice with If This Then That (IFTTT) meaning Amazon’s Alexa is now smarter than ever. But what is IFTTT all about and how can you get started with it on the Echo? Here's our complete guide to IFTTT and how to use it on the Amazon Echo.
The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker unit boasting a built-in 7-microphone array, which allows its intelligent assistant software, Alexa, to respond to your voice commands. Until now you were able to do some pretty cool stuff with the Echo, including getting it to blast out a Spotify playlist or read out your day's events. But from now Alexa is even more useful, as Amazon has added IFTTT functionality.
Read next: What is IFTTT and what can I do with it?
With this IFTTT support, Amazon’s Echo can now control a lot more devices and interact more smartly with your chosen services, using simple voice commands as before. IFTTT allows users to set up commands which kick off a chain reaction; so for instance, telling Alexa "good night" could turn off your smart lights and heating to ready the house for bedtime. And that’s just that beginning.
Amazon Echo and IFTTT: What is it and how does it work?
IFTTT is an online platform that allows you to control smart connected devices and apps more intelligently. By creating what it calls Applets, you’re able to link your various online services together. This can save you plenty of time and effort in the average day, if used smartly.
So for example, if you want to do something basic like making Twitter share any photos that you upload to Instagram, IFTTT can do it automatically. Or you can even have your various smart devices around your home interact with one another. For instance, making your Fitbit wristband turn on your coffee machine when it detects you’ve woken from your slumber. Or getting your automatic garage door to swing open when your BMW approaches.
IFTTT essentially works by creating an online platform that effectively translates messages between devices. So one action leads to another, without you having to worry about all the pesky code that makes it possible. Simply pick an app and an action and chose what action that leads to in another app - easy.
Amazon Echo and IFTTT: What can I do with it?
There are already a whole host of Applet options specifically designed for Amazon’s Echo, which are compatible with Alexa.
Some examples are:
Tell Alexa to lock up at night - this works with Philips Hue to turn off lights, Android to mute your phone and Garageio to close the garage door.
Another is the ability to tell Alexa to email you your shopping list, which you can also have sent to up to four others automatically.
How about telling Alexa to flash the lights in your house when a timer you’ve set on it reaches zero? Ideal for when your headphones are on but the dinner is cooking.
We like that you can tell Alexa to start the party and have your Hue lights go into a colour loop right away.
If you want to be a bit more functional you can even get Alexa to put your music playlist on a Google Spreadsheet - ready to share with guests at a party.
How about automatically syncing your Alexa to-do list with your Google calendar? Yup, you can do that too. Or add items to your iOS reinders list if that’s easier.
You can even tell Alexa to find your phone to make it start ringing so you can go grab it quickly.
Amazon Echo and IFTTT: How do I get started?
Firstly, only Amazon Echo devices in the UK and the US currently support IFTTT. If you live outside of the US or UK, you'll have to wait for Amazon to add support for your country.
Head to Amazon's IFTTT page and you can start programming Alexa to do all kinds of cool stuff, as mentioned above. All you need to do is sign up for an IFTTT account and then choose which recipes you wish to activate.
Take a look at our IFTTT recipes guide to get more ideas of how IFTTT on Amazon Echo can help to streamline your life.
Check out our Amazon Echo tips and tricks for more insider info on getting the most from Amazon's excellent smart home speaker and the Alexa AI.