The glue that holds the Internet of Things together -- IFTTT.com -- gained a new feature last month. Now the service's free iPhone app has location awareness, which means that it can be used to do some pretty amazing things. The update on December 11, 2013, to version 1.30 added the ability to trigger actions when your phone enters or leaves a particular area. Since I'm a huge fan of "If This Then That," it didn't take long for me to figure out how to use that capability. Here are some examples of how I'm using iPhone location in some personal IFTTT recipes:
1) If I enter the house, then turn on a light.
This is probably one of the easiest recipes to create if you have a Philips Hue light or two, or -- as in my specific case -- a Belkin WeMo Switch, Insight Switch or Wall Switch. I used the iOS Location channel and the Belkin Insight Switch channel to set up a recipe to turn on a table lamp in the house and throw a little bit of light if it happens to be dark.
2) If I leave my house, send a message to my wife telling her I'm gone
I like to let my wife know my whereabouts during the day while she's off at the office, just so she has an idea if I've gone off to run some errand or other. The problem is that I don't always remember to send her a quick message. This recipe uses the iOS Location channel and the Email channel. I would prefer it if IFTTT allowed me to just send her a text message, but the existing SMS channel doesn't work that way.
3) When I get back home, send another message to my wife informing her that I've returned.
Same as No. 2, but I'm using the "enter a location" trigger rather than "exit a location."
4) Let the world know you're home from a trip
OK, this one is rather fun. Since you can set a location with an address, it's not that difficult to put an airport into the iOS Location channel and once you arrive back at your home airport, use the Facebook channel to announce to the world that you're home. Just remember to turn this recipe off before you leave and turn it on again once you're out of town; that way it won't tell people you're back from your trip when you're just leaving on it...
5) Keep a log of when you are at a specific location
This would have been so useful back in the days when I was a consultant and had clients who were occasionally picky about knowing exactly when I had arrived or left their location for billing purposes. To do this, I set the iOS Location channel to trigger when I enter or leave a specific address, and then have it add the time to a log file in Dropbox. Parse that text file with a script or load it into a spreadsheet, and you're ready to rumble.
For my example recipe, I decided instead to keep a log of when my wife and I enter and leave our favorite pizza joint since I'm no longer consulting. We go there once a week, so this will be a way to find out exactly how much of our lifetimes are being spent playing with the iPads, snarfing pizza and drinking wine.
Have you put IFTTT's iOS Location triggers to good use? Tell us about it in the comments.