A new automation channel for Amazon's smart speaker further solidifies its smart home ambitions.
Ry CristSenior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
ExpertiseSmart home technology and wireless connectivityCredentials
10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
IFTTT (short for "if this, then that") allows users to create free automated "recipes" that link web tools, social networks, and smart home gadgetry. A recipe could automatically cross post your Instagram shots to Tumblr, or turn on a web-connected outlet whenever you tweet a specific hashtag. With Echo in the picture, you'll be able trigger recipes simply by talking to the virtual assistant Alexa, Amazon's answer to Siri and Cortana.
Connect with these 35 IFTTT-friendly smart devices (pictures)
At launch, your options are somewhat limited, with triggers (the "if this" part of IFTTT recipes) focused solely around Alexa's ability to manage to-do lists and shopping. That might signal an effort by Amazon to get Echo's users to start shopping with the device a little more. The recent rollout of Amazon Dash smart home grocery buttons makes it clear that Amazon sees big potential in bringing shopping smarts into the connected home.
The specific triggers are:
Ask what's on your To Do List
Item added to your To Do List
Item completed on your To Do List
Item edited on your To Do List
Item deleted from your To Do List
Ask what's on your Shopping List
Item added to your Shopping List
Item completed on your Shopping List
Item edited on your Shopping List
Item deleted on your Shopping List
Currently, there are no triggers that deal with Alexa's ability to stream music from the Amazon Prime Music library, or with Echo's recent Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue smart home integrations. There also aren't any actions (the "then that" part of IFTTT recipes) for Echo, which means that you can't trigger it using other devices, apps, or services.
At least some of that seems likely to change before too long, with Amazon calling the IFTTT launch, "a first step forward," and promising further IFTTT functionality in the near future.