Alexa, Nest, Apple Homekit and Google Home are definitely upping the home automation game but IFTTT has been kicking ass and taking names in the space for years, with its Applets (previously called IFTTT recipes).
IFTTT – or If This Then That for those yet to make its acquaintance – is a web-based service that allows various platforms and gadgets to trigger responses in one another that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
Essential reading: The best smart home systems
Many of the best IFTTT recipes are helpful workarounds for ways of using kit that haven't quite patched as out-of-the-box just yet.
Got a few smart home products already? Well, here are some of the best IFTTT Applets that you can start using today.
You wake up, everything wakes up
When you wake up in the morning, you need a couple of minutes to get yourself situated. Wouldn't it be nice if everything just took care of itself? Well, that's what this Applet from Flic does. Your lights are on, your coffee is getting ready, your co-workers are alerted. It's all good.
Say goodnight to everything with Alexa
The inconvenient thing about having a smart home is that there isn't always a super easy way to turn everything on or off at the same time. Sure, Alexa has groups, but those take time and patience to put together and organize. Instead, you could turn to this Applet from Hunter Douglas PowerView. Just say "goodnight all" and everything will turn off for the night. Everything.
Open your garage when you get home
Don't you hate fumbling for your garage door opener? They're poorly designed and sometimes you click them like three times because the battery is running low. But that isn't a problem with this skill from BMW Labs and Garageio. As soon as you drive up to your home, your garage door opens. You do, however, need a BMW. And a garage door.
Turn on lights when Ring senses motion
Burglars are a nuisance (kind of goes without saying really), but they can be scared off if they think someone is at home. That's where this Applet from Ring comes from. You can set up your Philips Hue lights to come on when Ring senses something going on outside, scaring off the would-be burglars. Sure, it could just be a raccoon, but do you want to take that risk?
Get notified when your washing is done
Washing your clothes can be extremely time sensitive. Sometimes you have an item that needs to immediately go into the dryer, or needs to be hung outside or laid flat. That's when it gets handy to have a washing machine that can let you know when it's done, no matter where you are. And that's what this Applet from Samsung accomplishes.
Warm up your bed
Sometimes you leave your window open for air during sleep, and all of a sudden in the middle of the night it's like Elsa came along and froze your entire town. With this Applet from Eight, if your Nest Thermostat senses that the temperature is a little too cold it'll activate your Eight bed warmer. The cold never got to you anyway.
Make sure your garage is closed
You get home late, you're groggy and aren't thinking clearly. You just want to sleep. The next morning you walk outside only to find that you left your garage door opened. How stupid! Well, unless you had this Applet. You just have to set a time of day, and if Garageio finds that your garage door is open it'll close it. Simple and carefree.
Party with Google
Feeling festive? Your favorite sports team do something cheer worthy? With this Applet from Google, you can set your Philips Hue lights to do a multicolored loop by telling your Google Home the words "Ok Google, party time."
Setting a timer with Amazon Echo? You can add in the bonus of visual cues from the Philips Hue lightbulbs too in case you really don't want to forget the cake in the oven or miss the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Once the timer counts down to zero, the lights will blink.
There's an Applet for watering your plants but there's also one for not watering them too. Why'd you want to do that? To save money and water by pausing your watering system automatically if it's going to rain the next day. What a time to be alive.
Turn off Wi-Fi when not at home
Save power at home when you're at work by turning off the Wi-Fi. Then use the recipe to turn it back on when you get home. Your bank account will thank you when the monthly bill rolls around.
Get a hot coffee when you wake up
If nothing gets you going in the morning quicker than a cup of hot coffee and you happen to own both a Fitbit and Belkin WeMo plug, the two can be used in conjunction with a simple recipe that automatically switches on your coffee machine the moment you wake from your slumber.
Use an old iPhone as a CCTV camera
If you happen to have an old iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android phone that you're no longer using, then why not turn it into a handy Wi-Fi camera that can monitor your home while you aren't there. The app can record video and send motion activated alerts to your email using a simple IFTTT recipe.
Match your lighting with your Instagram
If you're somewhat of an Instagram addict and are the proud owner of the Philips Hue smart lighting system, you can intertwine the two to change your room's lighting to reflect the predominant colours of the latest photo you have uploaded. Want to fill your room with warmth after sunset? Simply take a snap of the setting sun and let IFTTT do the rest. This one's a bit niche, but could be fun.
Send you a text when your house gets hot
The SMS channel on IFTTT can be used to trigger or alert all sorts of things via text message, which is especially helpful if you are out of range of LTE or Wi-Fi reception. This particular recipe can send you a text to let you know when your house is getting too hot; there is also a recipe to send an SMS messages to adjust the temperature via your nest.
Lights up as the sun goes down
LIFX smart bulbs are the Kickstarter-created big rivals to the Philips Hue system and this recipe is a compelling USP. It links your bulbs' dimming skills to Yahoo Weather, to power up your lighting when the sun goes. You can then experience a magical phasing up of your home's electric light intensity as the natural one from the outside world fades out into dusk. Beautiful, baby.
Stop your teens stealing your booze
Of the many recipes you'll find on IFTTT, one of the most original and unique is the idea of hooking it up to your drinks cabinet at home. Should anyone open the door to your Aladdin's cave of half-drunk, out-of-date holiday liqueurs, this set up will dial you straight away and let you know. The parenting end of the equation is up to you.
Lock your door behind you
Automatically locking your door behind you would be a problem if you needed keys to open in but, with a SmartThings system, one of the bonuses is that you can use your Android mobile phone to do it instead. When you and your cell cross the threshold, your location is reported to the main hub, which then bolts your house. So, no more wondering whether or not you really did lock up. Just drive off into the sunset. Don't look back.
The Nest Thermostat is great and everything but it does have the odd moment, particularly as the seasons change. A sudden heat wave will leave it rather conflicted and the end result is that you can often come in from a scorching day to find your boiler motoring away at full pelt. That's where this IFTTT link up with Yahoo Weather comes in useful. It can very firmly let your Nest know that should the mercury hit a certain temp and beyond, it should shut itself down.
Nokia weight on Misfit
So, you love your Misfit wearable but Misfit hasn't made Wi-Fi-connected scales just yet. Instead, you bought the Nokia (formerly Withings) one, but then that's two web platforms to quantify your self with, and who needs that? Thankfully, some bright spark is on the case with this recipe that auto-records your mass to the Misfit software every time you step onto your Smart Body Scales. Job done. The only thing that's missing is for Misfit to update its copy for Withings' name change.
Smoke alarm tweet
Part of the Nest Protect's job is to send you a message should a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm go off in your house but, if you're not around to take that message, there's a chance that things might not end well. Fortunately, you can use this recipe to boost the warning signal up to a big shout out in the form of a tweet. Automatically set your Twitter account to post your words onto Facebook too, so the alarm will be raised, even if you never knew a thing about it.
Last of all and definitely the least problem-solving on this list is the IFTTT recipe that switches your Philips Hue bulbs to purple while it rains outside. Again, it's the Yahoo Weather service that provides the precipitation reports while you appreciate your homemade Prince homage every time it pours. Now, if only your Sonos could kick in at the same time. WARNING: Might get really old if you live in Seattle.