IFTTT–which stands for “If this, then that”–is a uniquely clever tool for automating an array of third-party apps, services, and Internet-connected gizmos. With IFTTT, you can automatically send an email to your parents alerting them of each new Instagram photo you post. Or add every new event in your Facebook groups to your Google Calendar. Or send a text message to your neighbor if your Nest Protect smoke detector goes off. And if nobody’s created a recipe for the task you want to accomplish, you can construct your own in a few steps.
Today, the folks behind IFTTT are launching three new apps for iPhones and Android phones: Do Camera, Do Note, and Do Button. Meanwhile, the IFTTT app is getting new branding of its own: Henceforth, it will be known simply as If. (The corporate name will remain IFTTT, which is pronounced like gift without the g.)
The new apps are strikingly reminiscent of IFTTT in some ways, but there are also departures from it. The part that’s similar is the concept of triggering actions that leverage disparate apps, services, and devices. But instead of doing so via set-it-and-forget-it automation–making this trigger that–each of the Do apps lets you perform useful tasks on a one-off basis:
- Do Camera is a camera app that can do a job each time you snap a picture–such as uploading it to Flickr, printing it on an HP printer, or updating your Twitter profile picture.
- Do Note does things with snippets of text you jot, such as posting them to Tumblr, logging your weight in Fitbit’s app, or creating a grocery list in Google Drive.
- Do Button performs actions when you tap a giant on-screen button, such as paying your kids’ allowance using Square Cash, texting your location to yourself, or telling a Philips Hue lightbulb to cycle through all its colors.
As in the If app, you can browse through dozens and dozens of ready-made recipes or construct your own ones from scratch.
It’s easy to envision an alternate universe in which IFTTT crammed everything that you can do in Do Camera, Do Note, and Do Button into the original IF app as additional functionality. Instead, the company erred on the side of unbundled, uncluttered minimalism. Each only lets you set up three actions to choose from at any given time; you couldn’t overcomplicate your use of them if you tried. iOS and Android widgets even let you trigger actions without entering the apps at all.
IFTTT CEO and cofounder Linden Tibbets told me that he thinks the Do apps will speak to a broader audience than If, whose users have created 19 million recipes that get triggered 600 million times a month. That’s why the company created a new brand for them and stressed approachability above all else. It also has additional Do apps in mind for future release. The concept is cool and the execution is slick; it’ll be interesting to see if it does indeed have mass appeal.