IFTTT, which lets users link connected devices and web services to other connected devices and web services, has launched a paid subscription after offering a free service to consumers for the last ten years. The new service, called IFTTT Pro, will let users create more complicated applets, provide faster response times, and will also offer customer support. To help users adapt to the shift, IFTTT’s CEO Linden Tibbets says that customers will pay what they want for IFTTT Pro, with the goal of creating a service that people will pay $9.99 a month for.
A word of warning though, you will have to pay something. Tibbets told me that $1.99 is the lowest he thinks the price will go for Pro users.
IFTTT was founded ten years ago with the idea of helping people play with web services without needing coding skills. IFTTT provided a simple structure that let people build programs that IFTTT called applets. Users could say “if this happens, then make that happen.” For example, I had an applet that turned my Hue light bulbs red if my editor called or texted my phone. The format was if this number calls or texts me, then turn Hue bulbs red. It was fun and simple.
But was it a business? Users didn’t pay for the applets and IFTTT only started monetizing the service about three years ago when it started charging brands to link to the platform. Tibbets says that business is growing with over 300 brands on board. As a user, I stopped playing with IFTTT as often as I used to, simply because the format was limited for all that I wanted to do. I also saw a few of my favored brands decamp or attempt to charge money for access to IFTTT applets as they sought ways to offset the costs. Instead, I gravitated toward hubs and platforms where could build more complex routines for my smart home.
I’m guessing I wasn’t alone. Tibbets says that the investment in corporate users took the focus off consumers. By building a paid subscription plan that can help support the additional resources more advanced features require, IFTTT wants to address the complaints users like myself have had about the platform. To this end, consumers on the Pro plan will be able to create complicated applets that are still based on a single trigger.
The applets will let users set multiple actions, so you can say if this happens then that, that, and that should happen. It also adds what Tibbets calls queries, which will let you query a device in response to a trigger, and then set actions. For example, if my doorbell rings, then query to see if I am at home, if I am nearby or if I am more than 1,000 miles away and then build a specific action for each query.
The Pro plan also will have lower latency, which is a problem right now for many of my IFTTT applets. I stopped setting up lights as actions simply because there was sometimes a full minute between the triggering event and the light turning on. Tibbets says that IFTTT may also add a time delay to the service if users ask for it, which means I could stop creating a separate applet for turning off the lights after an applet turns them on.
So far, you only get to set one triggering event, and the user interface stays very familiar for those who already use the platform. You build an applet in a colored box by selecting your brands and then selecting what activity will generate the trigger or what will happen when the trigger is activated.
As for the users who don’t want to pay? They will be able to use all of the existing branded applets that are already created and will have up to three custom applets. I have at least a dozen applets so I’m clearly going to have to pony up if I want to keep playing with IFTTT. And honestly, if I can use it to create applets that can cut down on my other subscriptions, such as my $4.99 a month Wink subscription, then I might not consider it a bad deal.
IFTTT’s approach further reinforces that users will have to get accustomed to paying for the smart home. Connected products have ongoing costs, and an ad model isn’t welcome on your light bulbs or when trying to remotely access a camera. Or perhaps users will get similar services for free by turning to platforms such as SmartThings, Hubitat or HomeBridge (there is a hardware cost for these) or Amazon or Google, which can absorb the additional costs of computing and connectivity on their own clouds.
Feel free to share your thoughts. Will you pay for a better IFTTT?
Want more? Get Stacey’s weekly IoT newsletter.