Automate Internet Tasks With Your Pebble Time

Pebble Time with Michael

IFTTT3Today I’m going to talk about how to automate useful internet tasks and display the results on your Pebble Time. This is done through the use of two related applications. You’ll actually install them on your phone rather than your watch. They are: IF by IFTTT and Pushover.

IF and Pushover are both available in iPhone and Android versions. IF allows you to create new, or utilize existing, “Recipes” that trigger automated tasks which utilize internet Web services. Pushover then takes the results of these Recipes and automatically pushes them as notifications onto your Pebble Time.

The IF application for iPhone or Android accesses the free IFTTT Web service. IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”, which pretty well describes what this service actually does. It allows you  to specify a Triggering event, such as “If it starts raining outside” or “If a new posting rated as Popular appears on a specific Web site” or “If someone posts a picture of me on Facebook”.  It then allows you to specify a Task to perform in response to this Trigger. In the case we’re discussing here, the Task specified will be to execute Pushover to create a notification of the event and send it to your Pebble Time.

Pushover is a straightforward but quite sophisticated application. It generates notifications on your phone in response to the input provided to the app. You can specify that you also want these phone notifications to be sent to your Pebble Time. Pushover keeps a rotating list of all the notifications it creates up to a limit that you specify.

Let me get right into some specifics of how I actually use these apps to automate internet tasks. Now I happen to be pretty sensitive to hot weather. If the temperature outside is going to be over 88 degrees Fahrenheit I will want to know about it as soon as possible. I’ll likely modify my planned outdoor activities in order to avoid the effects this type of heat has on me.

If you’ll look at the picture shown here in this article, you’ll see a notification that actually appeared on my Pebble Time. It’s triggered by a Recipe that I found on IFTTT and which I then customized for my own purposes. What it does is notify me whenever the weather forecast indicates that the temperature tomorrow at my location will be 88 degrees or higher. If so, it uses Pushover to send me a notification. This notification also includes the forecasted temperature and a brief summary of the expected weather conditions, like Sunny, Cloudy, Rainy, etc. So, if tomorrow is going to be hotter than I normally like, IF and Pushover let me know about it right away. This allows me to make decisions in advance as to what type of outdoor activities I will plan on performing that day.

Other  IFTTT Recipes I currently have set up to send notifications to my Pebble Time include the following:

  • Let me know if it’s going to snow tomorrow
  • Show me when a new Hot posting appears in the Pebble section of Reddit
  • Show me when a new popular article appears in the Technology section of the New York Times
  • Show me a brief weather report for the day at 8am

The Reddit and New York Times notifications deserve some further discussion. What actually appears on my Pebble Time is the title of the post or article. If the title seems interesting to me, then I’ll take my phone out of my pocket and tap on the notification that also appears on my phone. This will take me into the Pushover application on the phone. What I’ll see there is as follows:

  • The program that triggered the notification, in this case IFTTT
  • The source of the notification, such as Reddit or NYT
  • The full title of the post or article
  • A URL link to it

I can then click the link and it will open the phone’s browser and enable me to actually read the posting or article that seemed interesting to me. Pushover will save as many of these notifications as I specify and automatically delete the older ones as new notifications arrive. I currently have this limit set to 50 messages on my phone.

I haven’t fully decided yet on the true value of the Reddit and NYT notifications to me. I consider them both to still be in the experimental stage. I really like staying on top of the technology news in these areas, but they significantly increase the number of notifications I’m receiving on my Pebble Time. They even have had a noticeable impact on its battery life. Only time will tell if I decide to keep them permanently activated or not. Nevertheless, I’m really appreciating having the ability to automatically receive this information on my smartwatch.

Using IFTTT to set up Recipes is very easy and can be done on either the IFTTT web site or on my phone using the IF app. Either will allow me to see my currently active Recipes as well as a large number of categories containing hundreds of other Recipes that were created by other users. These are available for use by anyone. There is even a category devoted just to Pushover Recipes. You can also use the provided Search function to find Recipes of interest to you. In addition, Recipes can be created completely from scratch using easy to use tools provided by IFTTT.

The types of Triggers available from IFTTT are quite numerous and are organized into Channels. These Channels include social media sites, internet-based tools, and email services such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Evernote, YouTube, as well as many others. There are also Channels set up to deal with location, time, and weather Triggers. The current Channel list on IFTTT is well over 100 entries long.

I strongly suggest you check out the IFTTT web site for yourself to get some idea of all of the types of internet tasks you can automate. It’s easy to set up a free account there and start exploring all of the possibilities available from this service. Then it’s just as easy to install IF and Pushover on your iPhone or Android phone and start creating automated notifications. I think you’ll find virtually endless possibilities for useful tasks that can be automated. I know that I’m currently just scratching the surface of the capabilities provided to me by these apps.

Finally: I almost forgot to mention this – Pushover also works with Web services other the IFTTT. I actually use it with the Feed2Mail Web service to automatically get a notification on my Pebble Time whenever anything changes here on  the pebblestuff Web site. Pushover provides an email address to its service that will automatically generate a notification from any email sent to that address. So I’ve got Feed2Mail set up to send a message to my Pushover email address whenever it detects any changes to this site. That way I’m automatically informed right on my Pebble Time whenever Max or Marco post a new article here.