If you don’t have a smart home hub but want to automate some of your devices, a service such as IFTTT or Yonomi are good options. But they’re not the only ones, they just have been around the longest. Enter Olisto as a relatively new option for both Android and iOS devices.
Olisto is modeled after the IFTTT “if this, then that” approach, only it’s more of a “when” this event is triggered “then” do this. And instead of the applets you create with IFTTT, you create “triggs”, short for triggers, to automate your home.
That sounds good in theory and there are some benefits that Olisto brings. For starters, you can have multiple “when” triggers for more complex automation events. You can also create virtual buttons to assign specific tasks to. Think of these software shortcuts as replacements for physical buttons in your smart home.
But in testing Olisto on my Android phone, I ran into some key disadvantages that won’t have me using the service going forward.
Unlike IFTTT, Olisto has no web interface. You have to configure everything in the application. If that was the only issue I had during my testing, I might be inclined to use Olisto in my home for times when my Wink hub just isn’t up to snuff.
The bigger issue I had was the broad lack of integrated services. There is no link to Samsung SmartThings or Wink hubs, for example. And since I don’t have light switches – I opted for smart bulbs – that removes any automations involving lights in my home. Many of the integration services are from companies that I’m not familiar with, nor do I have products from them. Brands such as Crownstone, Egardia, KlikAanKlikUit, Nuki and Toon appear in the Olisto Things, for example. So too do more familiar companies such as Sonos, Fitbit, Netatmo, Lifx, Nest and Philips Hue.
I suspect the brand challenge is due to Olisto being built by Amsterdam-based Toon, which created a smart thermostat and later formed Olisto in 2016. If you live in Europe, Olisto might be more useful to your smart home. Here in the U.S., not so much.
Even if you do use many of the smart home products that work with Olisto, it feels a little more limiting than other similar apps. You can have a trigg push a notification to your phone, for example, but text messages aren’t supported. And even the Amazon Alexa and Google Home integrations are odd to me: They’re not quite direct integrations but instead work with the virtual buttons.
On the plus side, the app is easy to use and the service latency is low for the few triggs I was able to create in my smart home. And for the DIY crowd, you can use Olisto Connect, which allows you to integrate the Olisto platform with your own hardware project using a Raspberry Pi, Arduino or some other developer kit.
But these strengths don’t outweigh the benefits in my particular use case. Until there are more and better integrations Olisto is likely a “try it and see if it works for you” service rather than a full-on replacement for IFTTT or similar service.
If you have tried Olisto, drop a comment and tell me how it works for you; even better, if it has replaced a different automation service or app, chime in and tell me why.