April 19, 2013, 4:57 PM —
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Your phone dings all the freaking time. What it dings you with is not always helpful, and there are things you wish it could ding you about that it can't. Not yet, anyways. Not until you dig into IFTTT and its unofficial companion, Pushover.
IFTTT stands for "If This, Then That," and that's exactly what it does. You choose one This from a really big list of application and condition channels, then choose one That action for whenever This happens. Add a This and a That, and you've got a Recipe. What's notable is how many of the Recipes can go straight to your phone.
Got that? It is much easier to show IFTTT by example than to explain it. A few choice Recipes, then:
"Use Liam Neeson's badass quote from "Taken" to scare someone into returning your phone" (which, for the record, I tested)
Play around with IFTTT for a while, and you'll find things you never thought about connecting: Facebook photo tags and Dropbox, Evernote and SMS, and so on. One major way it wants to send things to your attention, via phone, is through phone calls and SMS. Some people, like me, don't really like phone calls. Some like to keep SMS reserved for actual people, and others don't have unlimited SMS plans. You could definitely pull a few tricky maneuvers, like pushing into Gmail, having Gmail label that mail, then having your phone notify you about that label. But you might have better things to do than become a network engineer for your email.
You do have one more option: Pushover is a notification app for Android and iOS that, basically, takes in notifications and pushes them out to you in the typical ding/buzz/flash/pop-up fashion. Pushover, which costs $5 on both platforms, has a robust API that can take in notifications from just about anywhere, but it is most popular with developer and server tools, Mac applications, and all-around nerdery. But Pushover is something you can use create a "then That" option on IFTTT, and that is quite handy.
So, more examples: