While Amazon’s Echo can tell you about traffic and control your smart-home devices, users haven’t had much ability to develop their own commands for Alexa.
But thanks to an improved integration with IFTTT, users can start building their very own voice commands to do everything from sending emails to finding a lost phone.
IFTTT (which stands for “if this, then that”) automates interactions between various internet services. Users build “recipes” to connect actions taken on one service (say, liking a tweet) with an automatic action on another service (say, adding that tweet to a Google Doc).
The Echo already had some IFTTT integrations, but it was mostly tied to Amazon’s to-do and shopping lists. A new “trigger” allows users to use any phrase they’d like to start an automated action.
After building the recipe, users just have to say “Alexa trigger,” plus the phrase they designate, for the IFTTT recipe to run. So users could use Alexa to trigger a certain colored light setup for their Philips Hue bulbs (“Alexa, trigger orange lights”) or change their Nest thermostat to a certain temperature (“Alexa, trigger morning temperature”).
The service could even be used to send a preconfigured text or email from IFTTT, maybe asking the kids to call home or emailing your boss that you’re running late. Anything that’s an “action” for an IFTTT service can be triggered by Alexa now. Users can build multiple recipes with different phrases and actions to control anything connected to IFTTT.
Echo owners can head over to IFTTT today to sign up for a free account and start building their recipes. Look for the Amazon Alexa channel to connect an Echo to an IFTTT account.