Google’s OnHub router just got a major new feature: IFTTT support. The demoed features let you do things like lock your doors when your device disconnects from the router or send an e-mail when someone connects to your wireless network. There are a few example recipes on this IFTTT page, or you can make your own using any of the channels supported on IFTTT.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a service that lets you connect apps to other apps or connect apps to smart home devices. Developers for apps and services can build “If” triggers and “Do” actions that plug into the site. Users can make a “recipe” by combining these triggers and actions into a useful program, using the format “If [something happens], do [this action].”
Say you want to automatically tweet out a link every time an article on a website is posted. You can grab the RSS trigger function, so now you have “if a new item on this RSS feed appears, then [do this action].” Then you can combine it with the Twitter action and make “if a new item on this RSS feed appears, then tweet it out.” Each trigger and action has its own configuration options, so you can do necessary plumbing like giving the “RSS action” the exact RSS feed it needs and giving the Twitter bot your login credentials so it can post from your account.
All of the triggers and actions run on the IFTTT service, basically making it an app store for actions and triggers. For the OnHub, Google built one trigger for a device connecting, one trigger for a device disconnecting, and an action to “prioritize” a certain device, which just gives it a stronger Wi-Fi connection. You can combine these with the over 300 other supported apps and devices on IFTTT, so there’s probably something cool you can teach the router to do.
The OnHub was released as a $200 Wi-Fi router that didn’t have the performance or capabilities to match other $200 routers. Its only real differentiators were the funky design, easy setup, and the promise of future updates. It’s also packed with smart home antennas that Google still doesn’t really talk about. There’s support for Bluetooth 4.1, Google’s “Thread” network protocol (based on IEEE 802.15.4), and “Weave” communication standard. With the extra antennas and the label on the bottom of the router declaring “Built for Google On,” many believed this was the start of Google’s smart home ecosystem.
The speed of these updates has been slower than anyone expected. There have been a few tweaks to how the device works and some security patches, but most of the big stuff is still missing. Eight months later, the OnHub still doesn’t support IPv6, and the USB port still can’t be used for network storage. Bluetooth, Thread, and Weave support are all still dormant.
Now with the IFTTT update, the OnHub finally supports some smart home features—but it’s using someone else’s ecosystem. IFTTT is now the gateway for controlling other things in your house via the OnHub rather than using some kind of Google communication standard like we expected. This is all still happening over Wi-Fi, too, so the OnHub is still not using any of the smart-home antennas it shipped with. As the only router with IFTTT support, though, this move at least gives the OnHub a promising feature set for smart home users.
Listing image by Ron Amadeo
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