This post about automating my life, business, and home with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 by Verizon Wireless and IFTTT was made possible by my participation in the #VZWBuzz Lifestyle Blogger program. All opinions are my own. #VZWBuzz
I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as my primary device for several months now. It’s the first smartphone (phablet) that’s been good enough to pry my beloved Samsung Galaxy S4 out of my hands (though I still use it via Wi-Fi as a secondary device and for watching movies under the covers because hubby has to get up early and I don’t :)). My Note 3 works 24/7 and seamlessly connects with all of the Wi-fi devices in my home, which at last count was around 35.
But while I LOVE the functionality, style, feel, and look of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and especially the stylus pen, I’ve made it even more amazing by connecting it to an online service called If This Then That (IFTTT). It’s a free service that allows my Note 3 and my connected home devices to work together in new ways. Plus it connects my social media accounts to allow me to automate some of the more mundane tasks so that I have more time to write content.
What is If This Then That (IFTTT)
IFTTT automates many routine daily chores and does it in the background so I can go about my day. Before I tell you more about that, I do need to tell you that to use IFTTT you will have to supply some registration information. This may worry some people, but it’s no different than allowing any other online service to access your social media feeds and phone information, and if you really want to worry about giving your information away, read the fine print on some of those game apps everyone is using on their smartphones – you’ll be shocked at the access to your personal phone data it requires you accept or you can’t play. Now that’s scary!
Anyway, security issues aside, I have no qualms about using the IFTTT service and have been for months. But what do I use it for? Well, to automate my life. That’s not to say I’m lazy and don’t want to get up and switch on a light. Far from it. I use automation to streamline my life, save money, remind me of important events, and more.
IFTTT: Choose Your Channels
Channels are the 3rd party apps that can work as part of If This Then That. There are currently 132 channels available. I use a few of them and it can be almost overwhelming looking through the list of possibilities. Thankfully you can search for your favorite apps, but it’s also a great list of what’s available out there. In fact, you may find a new one that’s perfect for you. I discovered PushBullet, an app that sends notifications to my smartphone (it can also connect devices so you can share between them, or share between a group, etc). Now it’s one of my favorite apps.
The Channels I’ve activated are: Android Device, Android SMS, Buffer, Craigslist, Dropbox, Facebook Pages, Fitbit, Google Drive, Instagram, Nest Thermostat, OneDrive, SMS, Tumbler, Twitter, UP by Jawbone, PushBullet, Weather, and WeMo Switch.
Activating a channel is easy. Choose one and you’ll be shown a channel description. Click on the large blue ACTIVATE button and you’ll be taken to the 3rd party login page where you’ll type in your login and password (or register for an account if you don’t already have one). Once you accept the activation you’ll be sent back to the IFTTT site and you can now use this channel in a recipe.
A recipe is what tells IFTTT what to do. There are two kinds of recipes – Personal and Public. Personal recpies are only visible to you and show specific information about them. In the example below, the user’s ID is shown in the recipe – “ltibbets” and “Linden Tibbets’ Dropbox.”
Public recipes are ones that either you or someone else creates that is shared publicly so anyone can use it. The recipe is a generic recipe in that it is applied to a user’s account and connects to their channels, therefore there aren’t any specifics, but just the channels involved with a description of the recipe written by its originator.
IFTTT: Creating a Recipe with a Trigger, Action, and Ingredients
Now the fun part starts. Once you’ve activated all of the channels you want to be able to use, you can start creating your own recipes (though when you’re new, browse through the shared recipes and use those that work for you or as an inspiration for one you need).
The trigger is the first part of the If This, Then That equation. When “this” happens defines the trigger. For example, I have a recipe that when my Samsung Note 3 is disconnected from my home Wi-Fi I get a text message to let me know. The trigger is my Note 3 being dropped by my Wi-Fi so it’s using the Android Channel to monitor my connection. When it see’s that I’ve been dropped by my Wi-Fi, it triggers the action.
The action in this recipe is to text me a message so I know I’m using data now. The ingredients are the bits of information that complete the recipe. In this case, the text message that tells me what day and time I was disconnected from my home Wi-Fi.
But why would I want to be notified when I’m disconnected from my home Wi-fi? To save me money! I’m an avid live stream watcher of a new reality show (Utopia) and the app that displays the show doesn’t show my status bar. In the past I’ve been disconnected from my Wi-fi and switched to data for hours without my knowledge which allowed me to burn through a month’s worth of data in just a few days. Since this show has 11 more months of live streaming, I needed to write a recipe to make sure it doesn’t happen again! (The recipe for this action is below)
IFTTT – Turning Recipes On/Off and How Often are they Triggered
Recipes can be turned on/off with the click of a button by accessing your personal recipe page. Why would you want to turn one off? Maybe you have a daily wake-up call but you’ve taken tomorrow off and you want to sleep in. By turning off your recipe, the event is skipped until you turn it back on.
How often personal recipes check for triggers is important. IFTTT checks them at a minimum of every 15 minutes, but some channels are checked more often. This is important if you need instant notification. With IFTTT you could have a 15-minute delay.
IFTTT Recipe Logs
When a recipe is run you can be notified by email (you select this option when you use or create a recipe, though you can change it). You can also find it on the recipe itself under “Log.” This shows you the last 100 times the recipe triggered and whether or not it completed correctly. Mine fail often when I turn of my Note 3’s data.
My Personal IFTTT Recipes
Here are my personal IFTTT recipes (which you can use by clicking on the “Use” button and adding your personal information).
Home Automation Recipes & Blogger Recipes
Sorry, WordPress is having trouble embedding my personal IFTTTT shared recipes page. You can see all of them and use those you like by visiting my page on IFTTT. What will you find there? Recipes that send a text message when it’s time to take my meds, a wake-up call that gives me the day’s weather, a text message when rain is in the forecast.
I also get a notification if my Nest thermostat reads my home’s temperature above or below a certain setting or if it goes into Away mode (so I can turn it back on if I am home but it hasn’t sensed me – in the past I realized it was in Away Mode when I got cold, which meant extra heating to bring the house back up to temp). I get an email every time someone lists something on Craigslist in my immediate area, and I log my sponsored post social shares automatically to Google Drive.
But I don’t use it the way many people who have jobs outside the home do. Their most popular recipes include sending a text to their wife/hubby when they leave work, texting a roommate they’re almost home (by GPS trigger), or to turning on the lights when they arrive home. There are so many more – visit the IFTTT Recipe page for some inspiration. Who knows what part of your life you could automate and save time, money, and make room for more important things.
Do you use IFTTT to automate your life? I’d love to know what your favorite recipe is! Also, Note 3? Get one, you’ll LOVE IT!
About the Samsung Galaxy Note 3
So many features are packed inside this little package. While some may complain about its size, I find it a perfect fit. Granted, I’m 5’10” tall. Someone in the 5′ range would certainly find it large. That said, it’s only 5.95″ tall x 3.12″ wide, and .33″ deep and it weighs a scan 5.93 ounces. It’s got a 5.7″ full HD Super AMOLED Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 Touch Screen Display which means it’s easy to read and tough enough to handle every bump and drop I’ve thrown at it so far.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s 13–megapixel camera takes some amazing photos – especially in low light. It has many onboard editing features, but I find I don’t need them. Many of my best blog photos have been taking with this phablet.
One of my favorite features is the S Pen and the ability to write messages and notes, some of which can be turned into text. I also love that my word game scores have improved dramatically thanks to the S-pen!
Another feature I need to use more often is S Finder. By using voice or text, it searches my phone, the web, and more.
Photo Credits: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – Verizon.com; IFTTT – IFTTT.com