We have so many apps at our disposal now, that there's actually a need for apps that connect the rest of your apps. Two of the most well-known services that do this are IFTTT and Zapier.
IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and it's used to automate a variety of actions across your devices.
For example, you can share photos to your Google Drive account that you like on Instagram, and then sync them to your mobile device for use as a background or wallpaper. Pretty elaborate setups like this are easy to configure.
But it's not the only service of its kind. It has a viable competitor in Zapier.
In fact, the two services are nearly identical in how they work. However, they both service different apps and platforms and different customers. IFTTT, for instance, is for consumers and tech enthusiasts mostly. Zapier is a professional service best used by marketers and industry influencers. That doesn't mean that consumers can't use Zapier though.
So, how do you know which of the two services is the better option for you? What are some defining features that can help you choose between one or the other? What else do you need to know? Let's get into it.
IFTTT uses triggers or instructions called "recipes" that tell the service what and when to do something. You give each recipe a name, designate it to a compatible service or platform and then explicitly tell it what to do. Let's break that down in more detail.
IFTTT includes support for well over 320 popular services including Reddit, Gmail, Facebook, WordPress, Dropbox, Twitter and much more. If you want to know what services are compatible, you can see the full list here.
When you register and sign in, you're then asked to connect any services you'd like to use with IFTTT. This part is pretty straightforward. Then, you move on to either using recipes created by others in the community or by creating your own. You can do this via desktop through a web app or browser, and you can also create recipes on mobile for Android and iOS. Yes, IFTTT does have mobile apps available for these platforms.
You can also sync up IFTTT with a variety of other devices that are "smart" or connected. For example, you can link it with the Wink smart home hub or Nest thermostat and use it to trigger those devices to complete an action.
Most of the recipes, though it's possible to do some more advanced things, are simple. It works like this. First, you designate a trigger which is the first "if" in the name. Then, you identify an action or event that you want to take place, which is also defined by a particular trigger.
If you like a new image on Instagram, then download and sync it to your Dropbox account. You can also setup connected recipes, which make that process more involved. For example, once that previous recipe takes place, you can then pull the image from your Dropbox account and set it as the wallpaper on your mobile device. What you get is an automatic process for completing any task you can create a recipe for.
- Skill: Beginner to Intermediate
- Ideal User: Everyone
- Apps: 320+
- Price: Free
Zapier works almost identically to IFTTT but is focused more on business and marketing uses. It connects with business tools such as Recurly, HootSuite, HelloSign, MySQL and much more. Things like Facebook and Dropbox are also compatible but in more of a business and marketing sense with on emphasis on things like analytics support. In fact, the "zapbook," the list of compatible services, exceeds 750 total – way more than what IFTTT offers.
Zapier also has a helpful learning center, which includes guides on everything you'd ever need to know about using the service and compatible platforms. For this reason, Zapier is available to a larger audience from beginner to expert. And if you invest the time in learning how, you can do some pretty amazing things with the tool.
However, Zapier does not have any mobile apps or third-party tools for using the service, and it's not free either. That said, it can do a heck of a lot more than IFTTT when it comes to creating and defining zaps – Zapier's version of recipes. You can setup a nearly endless list of things that occur or actions to take when a trigger occurs.
On the free or basic-tier plan, you can only have up to five zaps at once, each of which can only be two steps total. For $20 a month, you unlock access to a much larger selection of compatible apps and can use multi-step zaps with no limit on how many you can have active.
- Skill: Intermediate to Advanced
- Ideal User: Professionals
- Apps: 750+
- Price: Free, $20 per month
IFTTT vs. Zapier
Comparing the two programs is difficult to do as they're primarily for different audiences. Not to mention one service is free to use but limited, while the other is premium and costs money.
Ultimately, however, you'll want to look at the services that are compatible with each platform to make your decision. You'll also want to factor in how you want to use the "recipes" or "zaps."
- If it's for work, then Zapier is probably the better option.
- If it's for personal reasons, like to automate your smart home, then IFTTT might be more ideal.
Both have decent reviews from users that actively subscribe to either service. Although IFTTT is completely free, it still gets positive feedback, including for its mobile apps. In this case, it's not a matter of which is better regarding usage or features. It's more about what you want to use the service for.
Professionals should look to Zapier, while IFTTT may be the better fit for consumers or those with budget restrictions.
Image by STIL