The IFTTT automation service has just unveiled Do, a tool that enables you to set up recurrent tasks to be carried out by programming a ‘Do’ button.
Web task automation and integration are two predominant areas being addressed by new tech startups. There are two reasons for this: firstly, while the number of web tools being used on a daily basis is growing all the time, there used to be no way to automate daily repetitive tasks; secondly, given the trend towards the ‘Internet of Things’, more and more objects are becoming connected to the net. European digital economy think tank IDATE forecasts that there could be around 80 billion connected objects in use worldwide by 2020. And given the number of tools – email, Google Drive, Evernote, social networks, and so on – being used on a daily basis in business, integration, i.e. stitching together the various Internet services and connected devices you use, is fast becoming a key need. This is in fact one of the reasons why enterprise collaboration platforms are now so popular. San Francisco-based Slack is the top-rated business communication tool, due to the wide range of integration it offers and its flexible interface. Then there is New York-based calendar app Sunrise, which provides direct integration into your personal calendar and has just been acquired by Microsoft for $100 million.
Meanwhile a number of startups have also launched into the field of task automation. The best known of these is IFTTT – an abbreviation for the classic software command sequence ‘If This Then That’ – which enables the user to programme the simple command: ‟if this happens, then do that.” You can for instance automate your tweets provided that pre-defined key words can be found in your chosen articles. Complementing this service, IFTTT has just announced the launch of the ‘Do’ suite: a set of apps that allow you to programme actions that can then be triggered just by pressing a ‘Do’ button.
A button which ‘does everything’
The idea of having a single terminal or tool to pull together the various web services and the connected devices you use is nothing new. A few weeks ago, l’Atelier spoke to Harri Rautio, CEO of the Finnish startup The Button Corporation, which has developed a button that “does everything”. The basic goal is the same: to have a single tool that lets you interact with all your connected objects. You can for example programme this button to send an email or call you a taxi.
IFTTT’s idea is very similar. Its new ‘Do’ service consists of a suite of three extra smartphone apps supplementing the original ‘Ift’ app which allow you to configure your various tasks.
IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets says that his service is basically designed to programme specific repetitive tasks. The option of integrating the service into connected objects such as the Apple watch, which is due to be on sale in April, could make it even easier to handle repetitive tasks. ‟You can imagine the Do Button concept would work really, really well on your wrist,” he points out. With its new suite of apps, IFTTT shows how, going forward, connected objects and devices, with their various apps and programmes, will start to be linked together, with automation streamlining the whole process. Meanwhile Mountain View, California-based Zapier also offers to automate your daily tasks by linking up the actions of your various applications.
Automating applications with Zapier.