IFTTT stands for "if this, then that," and with that simple bit of logic, the service lets you create simple commands, also known as recipes, that connect apps, services, and even devices. For example, if Weather Underground says it's going to rain tomorrow, then send a text message to my phone. IFTTT has another way to make commands happen: when you press a button in the DO Button app by IFTTT. This simple tool becomes your trigger for other actions, and it's so useful that it's an Editors' Choice. We tested the iPhone app, although it's also available for Android.
IFTTT's main competitor is Zapier, an equally wonderful service that does not offer a button to trigger actions. But Zapier has some features IFTTT does not, notably the ability to connect more than two services at a time. Both services are Editors' Choices, and both these productivity-enhancing services are well worth using. Zapier is slightly better for business use, whereas IFTTT's edge is that it can connect to Internet-connected home appliances, such as smart light bulbs. Having DO Button is one more difference between IFTTT and Zapier, as Zapier has nothing like it.
How to Use DO Button
Setting up DO Button for iPhone couldn't be simpler. If you're already an IFTTT user with activated channels, all you have to do is log into DO Button. If you're new to IFTTT, you can sign up on the spot, although it's easier to sign up via the IFTTT website and create your account there. We find it easier to browse the long list of supported devices and authenticate them on a larger screen.
As mentioned, IFTTT lets you create automated actions between services. For example, "If I receive an email from a new contact, add that contact to a spreadsheet in Google Sheets." All the recipes in DO Button are driven by the same command: pressing a virtual button. So, instead of waiting for a trigger from another app or service, the trigger is you opening DO Button and pressing the button. An example of a DO Button automation is "If I press the DO button, then toggle on or off my Philips Hue smart light bulb." Another simple one is "If I press the DO Button, then text my location to me so I can forward it to my friends."
You can set up multiple DO functions. To reach the various recipes, simply swipe left and right to find the button connected to each command. They're clearly labeled in words and with a giant logo of the service that will deploy when you press the button. For example, if you have a recipe to email yourself a randomly generated GIF for those moments when you're in a meeting and bored out of your mind, you'll see an email icon for that button.
You can create new recipes from within the app or from the IFTTT website. In the app, look for the Recipes Bowl icon at the bottom of the screen. It takes you to a page called My Recipes, on which you can see the recipes you've already made, manage them, and create new recipes. A plus sign is your key to creating and saving new recipes.
From this same page, tap on a gear icon to check which iOS permissions you've allowed. We recommend enabling access to location and push notifications to get the most out of DO Button, but your privacy needs may vary.
IFTTT has sets of recipes it recommends for work, home, play, families, and what it calls "essentials." An example of an essential recipe is "If I press the DO Button, then set my smart thermostat to a pre-set temperature." Another is "If I press the DO Button, then get a phone call from IFTTT" This last one can provide an excuse to get you out of awkward social situations.
Other commands include blocking off the next hour on your calendar, emailing a certain person a map of your location, tweeting a pre-written message, and punching the clock at work. As long as the trigger requires nothing more than a button tap, your imagination—and the confines of the services in question—are the only limit.
A major convenience for iPhone and iPad users is that you don't even have to launch DO Button to tap the button because there's an iOS widget that makes it available from the notifications screen.
What It Can't Do
Other commands or automations that seem like a good fit for the mobile platform—such as automatically posting a photo to the social network of your choice when you take it—are not possible. Not to worry: IFTTT has other apps, DO Camera and DO Note, that handle those more specific use cases. With DO Camera, taking a photo becomes the trigger. With DO Note, the idea is to create a quick note that can be pushed into the note-taking application of your choice.
When there are hiccups with IFTTT and DO Button carrying out the functions you expect, they usually boil down to connectivity or a third-party service experiencing downtime. For example, if your cell towers are jammed and no calls are going through and you press the DO Button to trigger a phone call, nothing is going to happen. When a DO Button action is successful, however, the app displays a checkmark at the top of the page.
During our testing, at times we'd tap the DO Button and wait for confirmation, but it simply didn't appear. It's easy to assume the command did work correctly when you see and hear no feedback, which is a flaw. It would be better to receive a notification from the app when a command was attempted but not successful. People who pay to use Zapier don't have this problem. When a command fails for paying members, Zapier identifies that a failure has occurred and automatically tries the command again until it works.
Perhaps the greatest weakness of DO Button is finding enough actions to save that make the app worthwhile for continued and repeated use. That's more a limitation based on the services available and what you want them to do. Thankfully, IFTTT is constantly adding service partners to make new things happen. You can also look through this list of 110 best IFTTT recipes for inspiration.
The DO Button by IFTTT delivers some incredible useful functionality for free, and for that, it's an Editors' Choice iPhone productivity app.