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The notion of saving time with an automation service that uses IFTTT is tempting, but it could actually be wasting more time instead of saving it.
IFTTT stands for If This Then That and is a popular web service that is also available as an app. The integration that IFTTT facilitates between apps or devices is called applets and is made up of triggers and actions.
Most of us have apps and smart devices that don’t talk to each other natively; this is where IFTTT comes into play. Its concept is to save you time by automating repetitive tasks.
For example, you can set up a trigger to tweet your Instagram posts as photos on Twitter. If someone calls, launch Google Maps and show the location of the caller. Or set the living room lights to flash when the washing machine finishes.
IFTTT is similar to Zapier, which also helps you automate tasks across apps. Zapier is best suited for office-related programs, thus having limited support for smart-home devices compared to IFTTT.
The IFTTT app can work wonders for you if nothing goes wrong. It is quite alluring with its automation concept and simple user interface with simple and big boxes.
However, IFTTT is disappointing when using the free version and isn’t much better with the Pro Plus version.
Features skimpy with the free version
IFTTT used to be free with no limit on the number of applets you create, but it introduced paid subscription plans on September 9, 2020, leading many users to abandon the service. The severe limitations of free users lead them to feel ignored and unimportant.
The free versions naturally have limitations, but in this case IFTTT is so restrictive that one can’t help but feel punished for using it. One might wonder why IFTTT ignores free users since poorly treated free customers are unlikely to turn into happy paid customers.
For example, if you want to create a custom applet with the free plan, you are only allowed up to two with the free plan. However, most users have more than two apps or two devices that need to communicate with each other, and for this reason, it is difficult to determine whether IFTTT is a service worth paying for.
When looking for an automation app like IFTTT to connect your apps or devices, chances are you have specialized customization needs and lots of apps and devices. These factors make it unrealistic for the free version to have substantial value for a modern user.
According to IFTTT, you can choose from over 100,000 pre-built automations when you use a free account. A closer look reveals that many of these are simply notifications or functions that other apps or devices can do without IFTTT.
For example, there is a popular built-in applet for syncing new events from a Google calendar to your iOS calendar. You can do this within the iOS Calendar app without using IFTTT.
Another limitation with the free version is that when you hit a snag, you cannot contact support for help, as it is behind a paywall. Instead, you’ll be relegated to a discussion forum in hopes of finding a solution there.
Paid buggy version
IFTTT isn’t practical if you’re using a free version, but even if you’re willing to pay for it, be aware that there are still painful issues. It’s true of any automation that if you make a mistake, it all fails. IFTTT is no exception.
Even using the paid IFTTT Pro Plus account, the automations were buggy. For something as simple as reposting content from one social media platform to another it was problematic.
For example, when testing applets that were supposed to tweet an Instagram post to Twitter or LinkedIn, the applets didn’t work because they didn’t connect to the correct social media accounts, even after logging out of the unwanted accounts and restarting the apps.
The IFTTT Pro Plus version was used to test an applet for setting the Govee lights to white when it’s on. It didn’t work, even after several attempts to reconfigure the applet and turn the lights off and on again.
IFTTT support was contacted with the Pro+ version, but the operation was long and unsuccessful. Support only reiterated the problem but did not explain how to fix it. When a response was given to support asking for solutions, there was no response.
After a week of receiving no solutions from support, IFTTT offered to set up a call to fix the issues, but don’t expect a call unless you’re a reporter. For a user requesting automation to save valuable time, it is excessive and counterproductive to have to answer a call for basic automation, such as setting the light to a specific color when it is turned on.
When an automation requires regular attention and troubleshooting from the user, it is no longer considered an automation but a nuisance.
Due to the nature of automation, every link in the chain must function properly, otherwise the entire chain will break. It will either work superbly or fail miserably. The more complex an applet, the more likely it is to fail.
Users who need an app like IFTTT require an app that allows them to automate more complex things with more than one trigger or action. If IFTTT can’t be trusted with simple automations, it definitely can’t be trusted with more complex and essential automations.
In a world where everything runs smoothly, you can rely on an app like IFTTT to automate your complicated work or home life. However, what makes IFTTT unreliable is the many variables and things that could go wrong, causing your automations to fail.
If users can’t rely on automations to run flawlessly on IFTTT, it’s questionable why they’d pay for it in the first place. If you still want to automate tasks across apps and devices, consider using Zapier or Apple’s shortcuts.
Since this isn’t a reliable app, you can use IFTTT for less important repetitive tasks like sending the weather report or turning on the lights, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work. For more important things like making sure your garage door is closed at a set time each night, you stand a better chance of getting a moody pre-teen to do it instead of IFTTT.
It would be ideal if IFTTT could improve productivity with automation, but it’s a buggy and unreliable app, so it’s not a reliable solution even when using the paid version. Sadly, the plethora of negative reviews from disgruntled users on the iOS App Store is consistent with our experience.
In short, some users love IFTTT because it works for them, while others hate it because it doesn’t work for them. If you need a reliable app you can trust to automate your collection of apps and devices in a complex world, keep looking.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Where to download
If you want to try IFTTT, you can download it free from the App Store. Subscriptions start at $3.99 monthly to $120.99 annually depending on the plans you choose.