Galaxy Gear productivity hacks using If This Then That

I’ve never really been one to wear a watch, but the Samsung Galaxy Gear is feeling pretty good on my wrist as I review the smartwatch companion for the Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

At first I didn’t see the point of having a smaller screen strapped to my wrist that would allow me to do the same things I could accomplish on my smartphone. After all, my smartphone is always within arm’s reach and its larger screen and better horsepower make it a better tool, right? Not always, I’m finding. Having a device strapped to your wrist with the ability to receive voice commands via S-Voice, and also offers a very fast way to snap a photo is proving very useful and a lot of fun, too.

Once I got thinking about how the Galaxy Gear is linked to the Galaxy Note 3 I’m using, I realized that with a few If This Than That (IFTTT) recipes, you could do some interesting things to improve the usefulness of this smartwatch even further. If you’ve never used IFTTT before, it’s a web service designed to link together your other web accounts and even phone numbers. Want to download every Gmail attachment you get automatically to your Dropbox folder? Want to create a new line in a spreadsheet every time you get an e-mail from a specific address? That’s the type of thing IFTTT makes easy to set up.

Here’s a couple of ways I’m using IFTTT with my Galaxy Gear, including the recipes. If you’ve thought about other useful IFTTT recipes for the Gear, let me know about it in the comments below.

Send pictures directly to Dropbox

With the Galaxy Gear camera that’s embedded in the wrist strap, you have a new quickest method to snap a picture. Rather than drawing your Galaxy smartphone from your pocket, opening the camera application and then framing your picture, you instead just swipe down on your Gear and then frame and tap. Since the camera on the Gear is of lesser quality, 3.1 megapixels, compared to the camera on the Note 3, I find the Gear camera is best used to record visual reminders to myself or in moments when I just don’t have time to reach the phone.

For example I was recently doing some Christmas shopping when I saw a gift idea for a friend. Wanting to get another opinion before I made the purchase, I snapped a photo to remember the item.

The Gear is set by default to pass all of its photos back to your smartphone as soon as they’re taken. You can take that automation a step further by using a cloud storage application like Dropbox. Set Dropbox to automatically upload all the pictures on your smartphone and it will also upload the photos coming in from your Gear. Now you have a way to get a picture from your wrist to the cloud in just a few seconds. Or use Google+ to do the same and then you’ll have built-in sharing options to show your friends your photos selectively.

Add the IFTTT service to the mix and you can get even more elaborate. E-mail yourself every photo you move manually to the Dropbox public folder, or even post them to Instagram.

Here’s my IFTTT recipe to send photos from Dropbox’s Public Camera Uploads folder to an email address.

Dictate reminders to yourself 

One of the features that makes the Gear so useful is Samsung’s S-voice service. Double-press the power button and say your command to quickly do complete an action. For example you can say “Show my schedule” to see your next six appointments and have them read to you, or you can say “Text Bob ….” to send a text message to your Uncle Bob (everyone has an Uncle Bob).

You can also say “Make a reminder” to put an item on your tasks list. Then if you want to view your reminders, you say “Show tasks.” But I find that’s a bit hidden and you could easily forget to view your tasks.

Again using IFTTT, you can create a better way to send reminders to yourself or update a to do list.

First of all login to your IFTTT account and activate the SMS channel. This will send a text message with a code to your phone that you’ll type in on the web to verify your identity. Next, put the IFTTT phone number in your smartphone’s address book. Let’s call this contact “Myself” to make it easy to remember.

Now using S-voice on your Gear, you could say “Text myself” followed by a message. This will send to the IFTTT SMS service and what happens next is up to you. You could turn it into an e-mail to yourself as a reminder to do something later on when you’re sitting in front of the computer. Or you could add a line to spreadsheet or Evernote page that you use to track your to-do list. Or even choose to update a social network status with the text that came from your voice dictation.

Here’s my IFTTT recipe for an Evernote to-do list via SMS.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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