What is IFTTT and how does it work?

Discover how a service called IFTTT can help connect your smart devices and gadgets and help your home run smoother...

IFTTT - or to give it its full name ‘If This, Then That’ - is a super handy app for a smart home. Pronounced like ‘gift’ but without the ‘g’, it’s an external service that works with a wide variety of smart home tech, like smart lighting, to make our homes more automated.

IFTTT is a space where developers can submit mini programs called Applets and where we, as consumers, can access them to make our lives easier.

What are applets?

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(Image credit: Future/Chris Snook)

Applets are mini programs that sync to your smart device (or devices) via the IFTTT app and react to certain actions. Or to put it simply - if you do this, then that happens.

There are well over a million applets to choose from, the majority of which you’ll truly never need. But by introducing some of them to your smart home devices you can make your home more automated.

For instance, do you have trouble hearing your best video doorbell ring? You can sync it to your lights to make them flash when someone’s at the door. There are almost endless choices available.

How do I join IFTTT?

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(Image credit: Future PLC)

IFTTT is completely free to join and you can either sign up via the website or download the app on an iOS or Android device. There is the option to subscribe to an IFTTT Pro account which incurs a fee, but unless you’re seriously tech savvy, you probably won’t need it.

What does IFTTT cost?

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(Image credit: Swann)

The standard membership is completely free and with that you can enable up to five applets of your choice. This is the easiest and best option if you're trying to cut back and find ways to save energy at home.

Want more? Then you'll have to go for a subscription. For £2.90 per month, you can upgrade to IFTTT Pro. This allows you the use of up to 20 applets - you also get faster applet speeds and access to IFTTT's customer support.

For complete access, IFTTT Pro+ costs £7.70 per month and gives you unlimited applets and you can connect multiple accounts, and more. As mentioned, it's very unlikely that you'll need this level of coverage for a normal family home, so we'd suggest you start with the free service. If you enjoying using the service and want to enable more than five applets, then you can consider subscribing to unlock more access.

Is IFTTT worth the hassle?

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(Image credit: Innr)

This is entirely up to you. It’s true that you can access many of these actions using the various smart home apps, like Apple HomeKit or Google Home. But if you have a variety of devices from different brands, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to ‘speak’ to each other. What's more, setting up a variety of actions separately tends to be quite complicated and time consuming.

Syncing an applet to your device using IFTTT is very easy. Once signed up, you search the available applets - either via the device you have or the action you want your device to achieve.

Once you’ve found the one you want, slide right on the button to connect it. You may have to give IFTTT access to the accounts that link to the applet, but once you have, that’s it.

It's worth remembering that IFTTT is best connected to your location services on your smartphone. This allows it to trigger actions when you enter or exit an area or access local weather information.

Can I unsync applets?

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(Image credit: Wiser)

If an applet becomes unnecessary (or annoying!), you can unselect it at any time. For example, if you use a smart plug for your Christmas tree lights for the month of December, you can choose an applet that makes them turn on automatically at sunset and off again at bedtime.

Come January, you need just swipe left on the applet and that schedule will disappear, leaving you free to use the plug elsewhere in your home.

What are the smart home brands on IFTTT?

You’ll find applets to help you connect your voice assistants to do specific actions. All the main smart home brands are represented on IFTTT.

Tado, Nest, Netatmo, Hive and Lightwave are just some of the smart heating brands that have applets on IFTTT. From smart lighting, there are applets for Philips Hue, WiZ, Nanoleaf and more. Meanwhile, names with smart security applets include Boundary, Ring, Swann and EZVIZ.

And as the service is free, you’re under no obligation to pay for anything or even use the applets, so you can just sign up to have a look at what’s available.

Ginevra Benedetti
Deputy Editor (Print)

Ginevra Benedetti has been the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home magazine since 2021. With a career in magazines spanning nearly twenty years, she has worked for the majority of the UK’s interiors magazines, both as staff and as a freelancer. She first joined the Ideal Home team in 2011, initially as the Deputy Decorating Editor and has never left! She currently oversees the publication of the brand’s magazine each month, from planning through to publication, editing, writing or commissioning the majority of the content.