CAP is a new natural language IFTTT alternative from Microsoft

   
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If you are into task and workflow automation, then chances are IFTTT (If This Then That) is the basis of your setup, or at least incorporated somewhere in there. It is one of the pioneers in the field and has become truly powerful through a strong and actively contributing community.

But, it is far from the only alternative out there an now it seems Microsoft has targeted the niche as well.

The effort in question is the rather descriptively named Conditional Action Programmer or CAP for short. It comes courtesy of the Microsoft Research team and is still very much in its infancy. IFTTT users will already be familiar with the core concept - create logical flowcharts of actions that link together various conditions and online data to other services and thus pass along information to the user or automate a certain task. A simple example would be getting an SMS or email notification if the weather forecast calls for rain, or automatically syncing photos across various cloud storage platforms - both things IFTTT can handle with ease.

With the Conditional Action Programmer, Microsoft is trying to take things one step further by developing a natural language interface to create tasks. Even in this preliminary stage of development, CAP seems to be doing a great job of speech recognition, which is understandable, since it can benefit from years of experience and progress on other Microsoft tools like Cortana. However, in order to perfect the system, what Microsoft really needs is real user input, which is what you can provide seamlessly, if you start using CAP.

It is currently available for free through a convenient online interface, which you can just pick up and start giving natural language commands to. As we already mentioned, it works surprisingly well, but don't expect to find the versatility and third-party service support of IFTTT in CAP quite yet. Currently, it can communicate with a few other Microsoft platforms, as you would expect. There is also Facebook and Pocket compatibility and a basic set of data sources and communication tools like Email and SMS implemented. The list is sure to grow in the future.

The Conditional Action Programmer website also mentions an Android app, which should be available on the Play Store, but we had no luck finding it yet. In any case, considering CAP's current capabilities, it is most-likely a convenient alternative interface, rather than a source of other triggers and actions, in a Tasker or Trigger fashion. Speaking of which, however, it will be really interesting to see where Microsoft takes CAP in the future and whether or not it extends on to device automation as well. It all likelyhood, once the platform is perfected, it will probably join Cortana's current voice assistant arsenal and allow it to plan out more complicated tasks than it already can. An awesome prospect to say the least.

Overall CAP is definitely worth keeping an eye on and perhaps even contributing to, if it piqued your interest.

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