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Smart Home

Liftmaster links garages with Google and IFTTT -- for a fee

Liftmaster's integration with the Google Assistant and its MyQ channel on IFTTT will let you control your smart garage door opener in all sorts of ways, but using them will cost you a buck per month.

The online automation service IFTTT has long been a great way for the makers of smart home gadgets to connect their devices with an ocean of other gizmos and services. The latest to take advantage is Liftmaster, with a new IFTTT channel that'll let you program your MyQ Garage in all sorts of fun new ways.

The catch? This IFTTT channel isn't free.

Specifically, you'll need to pay Liftmaster $1 per month in order to opt in, or $10 per year. If you just want to try it out, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial. Users also get access to an integration with Google that lets them control their garage door with Google Assistant voice commands, as in, "OK Google, close my garage." They can opt out without penalty at any time.

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The MyQ IFTTT channel can automate your garage door in all sorts of new ways, but you'll need to pay Liftmaster a fee to access it.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

It's a noteworthy development for both IFTTT and Google, which have each long offered users free access to supported third-party products and services. Now, Liftmaster is stepping in as a gatekeeper and charging its users a fee for access to both, which strikes me as a touch stingy. Neither Google nor IFTTT receives a share of that fee revenue, the two companies tell me.

"The revenue goes to Chamberlain Group," says Paul Accardo, Liftmaster's Manager, Marketing Communications. "The subscription model helps us keep product prices low and broaden the number of third-party technologies we support."

An example of some of the IFTTT applets you can turn on with MyQ Garage.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

Short for "if this, then that," IFTTT acts as an online middle-man between supported products and services. Users can turn on "applets" that automate those supported services using that if-this-then-that structure, or they can create their own.

For instance, you could create an applet that turns on your IFTTT-supported smart lights whenever the garage door is opened, or one that closes your garage door automatically whenever you arm an IFTTT-supported security system. IFTTT also supports timed automations (if it's 9 p.m., then close the garage door), as well as geofenced automations (if my phone exits a one-mile radius of my home, then close the garage door).

IFTTT isn't Liftmaster's only outside integration for its MyQ connected garage door opener. Users who upgrade to the $50 MyQ Home Bridge can also connect their garage door with Apple HomeKit, and control it using Siri commands.

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Not on the list: Amazon's virtual voice assistant, Alexa. It's worth noting, however, that Alexa is an IFTTT-supported service -- with the right applet, users can connect her with MyQ, then trigger a garage door automation using their Amazon Echo smart speaker.

Liftmaster's IFTTT channel and Google Assistant integration are both live now -- users who want to try it out can get started by opening their MyQ app and going to Menu > Account > Account Linking.