Living With Lumia: Harnessing The Power of IFTTT
What Does The Windows Phone App Gap really mean to users of the platform? In general it means finding creative ways of doing what other platform users can take for granted, thanks to the presence of native apps in the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.
One of the services which I use regularly is IFTTT. The action/reaction automation system is useful in all sorts of ways, however the absence of a Windows Phone client does introduce a few difficulties with the service. Not as many as you might think though, as you can create and manage IFTTT recipes from the mobile website just as well as the mobile apps.
However the ability to tie into notifications and reminders on those competing platforms is something that can cause you problems.
Fortunately it's possible to work around these shortcomings without too much trouble.
First of all notifications. By using the Pushalot service you can gain the exact same functionality Android and iOS users enjoy. You can use any IFTTT channel to act as a trigger and direct Pushalot to send a notification to your phone so that you can act on it. Go here to register for a Pushalot account and download the Pushalot app from the Windows Phone Store here. Then activate the Pushalot channel on IFTTT to gain access to on device notifications. As an added bonus there's also a Pushalot Windows 8.1 app to allow you to receive notifications on your tablet or desktop as well.
So how about reminders then? Being able to automate the creation of reminders from different channels is a powerful tool for IFTTT users. To do this on Windows Phone you'll need a to-do manager that supports IFTTT. Fortunately Wunderlist provides exactly this functionality. Once again you'll need to register for an account here. The free account will cover most needs, although there is a pro version which adds a number of team related tools for $5 a month. Once you have an account you can download the app from the Windows Phone Store here.
Register the Wunderlist channel on IFTTT and you can use any other channel to trigger the creation of a reminder. A Windows Phone bonus is the ability to use the apps' Live Tile to give you an 'at a glance' view of your tasks. Even better, you can pin multiple Live Tiles to your Start screen to reflect different projects as Wunderlist supports segregation by folders. And if you want a really smart view you can pin Live Tiles for tasks due Today and This Week. Powerful stuff. There is also a Wunderlist app for Windows 8.1 so you can extend the power of the app to the desktop.
IFTTT offers a huge variety of trigger channels, but what if you want to manually trigger an event, in the same way that the service's DO app allows iPhone and Android users to do? Well you can do that too. This time by making use of the Yo app. This time you need to add IFTTT to your Yo list and every time you want to trigger your recipe fire off a message to the service.
Sign up for Yo here and register in app. Add IFTTT as a contact and you're good to go. Back in IFTTT use the Yo channel as a trigger for the action you want to be able to manually control.
Even without a native app Windows Phone users can make very good use of the IFTTT service, if you haven't tried it before I'd highly recommend having a look.