I’ve been using IFTTT for nearly five years in one way or another. It has been a great tool for me to get notifications on my phone when I need to check something or remember to do something on a regular basis. Recently I ran into an issue which has bugged me quite a bit, preventing me from being able to continue to use it.
I understand why a free service would have a usage limit. Sending SMS messages isn’t something they are able to do for free. They must pay someone to send those SMS messages and while they can significantly reduce costs depending on how they implement the SMS messages, it still has a cost associated. As a result of this, they have a usage limit.
Since I am on a Keto diet I have a series of reminders set on my phone to remind me to take a supplement. In addition to this, since I am quite forgetful, I had a reminder set up to remind me to check all of the doors at around 8:30 PM. There were also a couple of other SMS notifications turned on based on different things that could happen. While it was a lot of SMS messages, I wouldn’t say it was a dangerous amount to say the least. On Tuesday I stopped receiving SMS messages on my phone. I figured their services could be having issues that day and didn’t look into it. Wednesday and Thursday passed and I completely forgot about it, which resulted in me missing my supplements and being out of whack a bit.
On Friday morning I decided to figure out what was going on. It took me a bit of time to figure out what was going on; I hit their SMS usage limit. Didn’t actually know that they had a usage limit. That makes sense.
The part of this puzzle that doesn’t make sense to me is the simple fact that they do not offer a premium account to bypass the limit. You’re just screwed if you go over the limit. No more SMS for you. You could implement another solution that you can pay for, but why would I want to pay another company to give me more SMS messages when I could just have IFTTT take care of it. I am sure outside of SMS they also have usage limits for other things.
Running into the usage limit means that IFTTT is useless to me until it resets and makes those reminders useless. An alternative is to use the IFTTT app to send notifications, but the best part about SMS is that I get them both on my phone and at my computer as a result of being a Project Fi subscriber. My text messages display in Gmail, allowing me to send and receive text messages at my computer. I cannot receive these IFTTT messages in the same way, which makes them less useful to me.
The fact that IFTTT will not take my money and let me have the feature for as much as I need to use it is what makes the whole service not worth it to me, even if the price point is free.
Creating an Alternative
I am currently playing around with the idea of creating my own online service for personal use where I can create reminders and send text messages to my phone for them through something like Twilio. Ideally I would be building it in Python, but I am still in the learning process. This at least gives me a project to work on, and if anyone else ends up wanting to use it, I may end up extending it to a private beta or something like that. The idea is to provide a free or paid solution for someone in a similar situation. $10 a month would be a great price point to send me a few text messages daily to remind me that I need to take a supplement while reminding me to get my Niece a birthday present two weeks before her birthday.