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IFTTT Rolls Out Great Big Buttons That Do Everything

From automation to intention.

Posted on February 19, 2015, at 9:01 a.m. ET

Today, IFTTT is releasing three new products meant to turn your smartphone into an on-demand, push-button task master. Essentially, they let you create tools for very specific actions, powered by a single button. The suite is called Do, and it represents a fundamental rethinking of not just IFTTT, but the very way apps work on our phones. If IFTTT was about how apps and services interact with each other in an automated fashion, running in the background, Do is all about using your phone deliberately to accomplish specific tasks. It's somewhat like a widget, but far more powerful and customizable.

While it performs the functions we associate with applications — tweeting, sending emails, turning on Hue lights, saving text to specific Evernote entries — it does these things separately from the apps themselves. You can access core functions of the apps right from the Today view of the iPhone's notification center, or the home screen of Android itself. It's peeling off the ability to get shit done from the brand wrapper of the application.

"What happens after apps? Apps are a given. A grid of icons on the phone," IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets told BuzzFeed News. "What happens when you go beyond apps? How do apps fit in when you don't get that grid of icons on the phone? Notifications exist on a plane above the operating system."

There are three new apps in the suite, and each is designed to be exceedingly specific. Do Button can be assigned three different tasks, Do Camera gives you automatic options to follow whenever you take a picture, and Do Note does the same for text. Each instance is simple and direct, but flexible; it could make things very, very efficient for people who know their habits well.

Hit Do Button, and it will, well, do something. Maybe it switches on your lights, or turns the heat up in your home. But it is meant to be task-specific. Do Camera will let you take (or choose) a picture and then perform a specific task with it — tweet it, email it to a specific person, you name it. Do Note will send your specific text to an application you've connected it to. (For example, say the word "blue" and it could switch your Hue bulbs to that color.)

All are designed to be highly specific functions that save you from having to tap-tap-tap on your phones. Hit it and be done.

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The most exciting applications for Do Button are for early adopters who have splurged on smart home gear. If you're ahead of the curve on connected devices like a Nest thermostat or Philips Hue lights, there's going to be a lot to do: Make a kill switch for all your lights, turn the heat on before you get home, start a pot of coffee when you wake up. It's aiming to be the delivery mechanism for a service-oriented future.

While IFTTT is currently built off an active community that creates commands, called recipes, for the app to execute, the Do suite won't offer user-generated actions. Instead, the options will be curated by the team. IFTTT said it may increase the flexibility within the app as time goes on.

The reinvention of IFTTT is a streamlining, but also a fracturing. The app as we know it will now just be known as If, and the various Dos are all being spun out as their own, stand-alone apps. Which is a simplification, as long as you don't mind your phone-screen real estate being quadrupled just to keep up with what they're doing.

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