IFTTT 4.54 review: Innovative but unreliable


Use IFTTT to automate apps and devices

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The concept of saving time with an automation service using IFTTT is appealing, but it could actually waste more time than save it.

IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and is a popular web service that is also available as an app. The integration facilitated by IFTTT between apps or devices is called an applet and is made up of triggers and actions.

Many of us have apps and smart devices that don’t natively communicate with each other; this is where IFTTT comes in. Its concept is to save you time by automating repetitive tasks.

For example, you can set a trigger to tweet your Instagram posts as photos on Twitter. If someone is calling, start Google Maps and view the caller’s location. Or set your living room lights to flash when the washing machine finishes.

Applets on IFTTT

Applets on IFTTT

IFTTT is similar to Zapier, which also helps you automate tasks between apps. Zapier is better suited for desktop-related programs, thus having limited support for smart home devices compared to IFTTT.

The IFTTT app can do wonders for you if all goes well. It is quite attractive with its automation concept and simple user interface with large simple boxes.

However, IFTTT is disappointing when using the free version, and it’s not much better with the Pro Plus version.

Availing features with the free version

IFTTT was previously free with no limit on the number of applets created, but they introduced paid subscription plans on September 9, 2020, leading many users to drop the service. Severe limitations imposed on free users make them feel ignored and unimportant.

The free versions naturally have limitations, but in this case, IFTTT is so restrictive that one can’t help but feel punished for using it. One might wonder why IFTTT ignores free users, since badly treated free customers are unlikely to turn into happy paying customers.

For example, if you want to create a custom applet on the free plan, you are only allowed two with the free version. However, most users have way more than two apps or two devices that need to talk to each other, and for this reason, it’s hard to determine if IFTTT is a service worth paying for.

When looking for an automation app like IFTTT to connect your apps or devices, chances are you have specialized customization needs and many apps and devices. These factors make it unrealistic for the free version to have substantial value for a modern user.

According to IFTTT, you can choose from over 100,000 preset automations when you use a free account. A closer look reveals that many of them are just notifications or functions that other apps or devices can do without IFTTT.

Pre-built applets in IFTTT

Pre-built applets in IFTTT

For example, there is a popular pre-made applet to sync new events from a Google calendar to your iOS calendar. You can do this in the iOS Calendar app without using IFTTT.

Another limitation of the free version is that when you have a problem, you cannot contact support for help, as they are behind a paywall. Instead, you’ll be relegated to a discussion forum in hopes of finding a solution there.

Paid buggy version

IFTTT isn’t practical if you’re using a free version, but even if you’re willing to pay for it, be aware that there are still some annoying issues. It is true of all automation that if you make a mistake, everything fails. IFTTT is no exception.

Even using the paid IFTTT Pro Plus account, the automations were buggy. For something as simple as reposting content from one social media platform to another, it was inconvenient.

Using IFTTT was unreliable and troubleshooting was poor

Using IFTTT was unreliable and troubleshooting was poor

For example, when testing applets that were supposed to tweet an Instagram post to Twitter or LinkedIn, the applets didn’t work because they weren’t linked to the correct social media accounts, even after logging out of the unwanted accounts and restarting the applications.

The IFTTT Pro Plus version was used to test an applet to set Govee lights to white when turned on. It didn’t work, even after several attempts to reconfigure the applet and turn the lights on and off.

IFTTT support was contacted with the Pro+ version, but it was time consuming and unsuccessful. Support just reiterated the problem but didn’t explain how to fix it. When a response was made to support asking for solutions, there was no response.

After a week without getting a fix from support, IFTTT offered to set up a call to resolve the issues, but don’t expect a call if you’re not a journalist. For a user to need automation to save valuable time, it’s overkill and counterproductive to have to make a call for basic automation, like setting the light to a specific color when turned on.

When an automation requires regular user attention and troubleshooting, it is no longer considered an automation but a nuisance.

Unreliable applets

Due to the nature of automation, each link in the chain must work properly or the entire chain will break. It will work superbly or fail miserably. The more complex an applet, the more likely it is to fail.

Users who need an app like IFTTT need an app that allows them to automate more complex things with more than one trigger or action. If IFTTT can’t be trusted with simple automations, it certainly can’t be trusted with more complex and essential automations.

We configured an applet in IFTTT to turn on white lights, but it failed

This applet in IFTTT is supposed to turn on the white lights, but it failed

In a world where everything runs smoothly, you can rely on an app like IFTTT to automate your complicated work or personal life. However, what makes IFTTT unreliable are the many variables and things that could go wrong causing automations to fail.

If users can’t rely on automations to work flawlessly on IFTTT, one wonders why they would pay for it in the first place. If you still want to automate tasks across apps and devices, consider using Zapier or Apple’s Shortcuts instead.

Since it’s not a reliable app, you can use IFTTT for less important repetitive tasks like sending you the weather report or turning on the lights, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work. For more important things like making sure your garage door is closed at a set time every night, you have a better chance of getting a moody tween to do that instead of IFTTT.

It would be great if IFTTT could improve productivity with automation, but it’s a buggy and unreliable app, so it’s not a reliable solution even when using the paid version. Unfortunately, the plethora of bad reviews from disgruntled users on the iOS App Store is consistent with our experience.

In short, some users love IFTTT because it works for them, while others hate it because it doesn’t work for them. If you need a reliable app you can trust to automate your collection of apps and devices in a complex world, keep looking.

IFTTT Benefits

  • Innovative concept for automating tasks between apps and devices
  • Disadvantages of IFTTT

  • The free version is severely limiting
  • The paid version is unreliable
  • Confused to use for social media with multiple accounts
  • Rating: 1.5 out of 5

    Where to download

    If you want to try IFTTT, you can download it from the App Store for free. Subscriptions start at $3.99 per month up to $120.99 per year depending on the plans you choose.

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