[Note: This article contains easy-to-follow instructions for creating your own Amazon Echo IFTTT recipe hacks!] Did you know that you can use your Amazon Echo voice commands with home automation smartthings, such as lights and thermostats, as well as to send an email or text, post to Facebook and Twitter, and much more? In addition to the onboard Amazon Echo features which will control home automation smart things, the Amazon Echo list of commands is nearly limitless when you use IFTTT recipes, which count as some of the best Amazon Echo features and hacks.
IFTTT stands for “IF This Then That”, and IFTTT can basically be thought of as a simple way to create a short program routine. Those IFTTT routines are known as “recipes”. Here’s the thing – you don’t even have to know how to program a thing – it’s as easy as pointing and clicking and telling your Echo “when I tell you this – do that”, and the ‘this’ and ‘that’ are defined by just pointing and clicking (don’t worry, this will all become clear, and easy, below).
First, integration with some home automation smartthings comes integrated right out of the box, including Belkin WeMo outlets, lightbulbs, and light switches and Philips Hue smartbulbs.
The thing that all of these devices have in common is that the device registers itself on your home wifi network.
And so, once the device is registered on your network, you ‘add’ it to your Echo’s list of known devices by telling Alexa “Alexa, discover devices.”
Your Echo will respond with “Starting discovery” and when done will tell you “Discovery is complete.”
Because support for these devices is built into the Echo, the Echo will look for Belkin and Philips devices on your wireless network, and discover them.
Then you can tell your Echo things like “Alexa, turn off the kitchen light” or “turn up the thermostat”.
But with the IFTTT recipes, you can have your Echo do much, much more. And it’s really easy, because it’s all done through a point-and-click interface.
In fact, it took us less than 2 minutes each to create a recipe to post what song we were listening to on our Echo to both Facebook and Twitter. Of course these are not necessarily so interesting – we just did it to test the system for you. (There are also dozens of Amazon Echo IFTTT recipes that others have made and shared, that are available for you to use.)
Here is how it works:
After you sign up with IFTTT (link below) you will be given a myriad of “connections” that you can interconnect. They all require that you log into various accounts – so it’s important that you think about privacy and security as you are creating these recipes.
For example, to create any Amazon Echo IFTTT recipe, you have to connect your Echo as a “channel”. This means logging into your Amazon account through IFTTT so that it can play nicely with your Echo.
Channels can serve as either “trigger” channels (the “if I use this channel to do this” channel), or “action” channels (the “when I use the trigger channel, do this action”).
So, in our example, we connected both our Echo (the Amazon Alexa channel, through our Amazon account) and Anne’s Facebook account.
Here’s how it broke down, step-by-step:
How to Create an IFTTT Recipe to Post the Song You are Listening to on Your Echo to Facebook as a Status Update
1. Sign into the services that you want to use as channels
2. Click on the Create a Recipe button
3. Click on the highlighted “This”
4. Choose Amazon Alexa as your trigger channel
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5. Choose your trigger action
6. Click on Create trigger
7. Click on the highlighted “That”
8. Choose your action channel
9. Choose your action
10. This will show you what the action will look like – if you’re happy with the default fields (in this case the text of the status update it will post) create your action
If you want to customize the fields, just edit them. This is what it looks like when you click to edit the fields:
Our customized text:
Either way, when you are ready, click on ‘Create Action’.
11. Confirm and create your recipe!
That’s all there is to it!
In the above example, whenever we listen to a song on our Echo, it posts the information as a status update to Facebook.
Note that the above lists of possible connections and actions were abbreviated for the sake of saving space in the article.
Go here for a complete list of the IFTTT recipe connections, service and actions that you can use for the “that” half of the “if this then that” equation.
Got an Echo and want to get started? You can sign up to create your own IFTTT recipes here, it’s free!
This is the fourth article in our Amazon Echo series. You can read the others here:
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