Microsoft’s Flow Is IFTTT for the Power Users: Immediately upon its soft launch, the Microsoft Flow was called the company’s answer to IFTTT. For all the users the app has now launched, so we took it for a spin.
- You will need a school/business email ID to sign up for Flow
- There is no mobile interface or app
- Flow has been touted as the Microsoft’s answer to IFTTT.
Once you have signed up of course the first impression you are going to have of the service, is the arcane user experience that is especially when you are creating a new flow, i.e. recipe. The polish you have come to expect from the websites of the post-PC and apps is clearly lacking here. Maybe the unimpressive UI is of because the Flow remains under the company’s preview program, or it may be because the Flow is tailored for businesses not for the consumers. But with Flow you cannot use the personal email addresses and you will need a school/work mail ID to gain access to the tool.
Including the menus, the user interface is a bit rudimentary. For example, while setting up OneDrive we are trying to select a folder, then it was not clear when you are supposed to click ‘Choose’ button to select the folder from outside and then you have to ‘choose’ to decide the folder to use. Then there are some more tiny concerns like having to click on the arrow that is next to the folder name to head instead of letting you to double-click the way through.
So, when you are connecting a third party app for using Flow, then you are going to use the Flow’s own interface instead of being sent to app’s website. It means that if you are trying to add on something from the Google Drive, then you won’t see the selection tool and also you won’t see Wunderlist’s own interface and then you lack the familiar tools that made it easy to use those apps in the first place itself. But with the Flow’s tools, you will not be able to create the new folders or lists, that could make it a little hard to use for some.
Add to that the lack of dedicated app or the mobile interface and if you are looking at the service that has possibly alienated a portion of the users. Microsoft probably does not care about the mobile-oriented for Flow with its focus on the business users.
One good thing about the Flow is that you can create multiple connections for the same service, so say if you have a work or personal Google address and need help for moving the files around between the two automatically. The tool’s real power though lies within the rules it will let you create.
Let’s say, if you want to create a task in the Wunderlist that is based on the emails that you are getting from a colleague. Flow can easily track every email it receives from the particular email address and automatically set up task. You are quite right if you are thinking that something that the IFTT can do as well. But Flow goes beyond that. You can tell it to only track email that carry an attachment or only look in a specific folder. You can also even ask it to filter by the email subject only.
This will apply to all the services of Flow. So the thing is, that the possibilities with the Flow are endless, so it is really up to you to make the best and most of it. The IFTTT definitely provide access to a larger bunch of the services and apps to link into and from the Flow differentiates itself by not only providing the deeper access but also letting you to create a multi-few flow. To make people understand what the tool is about, so comparing Flow to IFTTT is okay, but the former is much more elaborate.