Physical buttons & Microsoft Flow: Push the button!

No, this is not a fresh new remix of The Chemical Brothers, but we're talking serious business here.

Physical buttons

The Microsoft Flow team announced that it is possible to connect Microsoft Flow to the real world with physical buttons a while back! The first thought I had was: "Where can I buy these buttons?!". Well, if you have the same question: take a look here and here! I have both devices for a while now, so it is time for a review!

Let's start by listing some use cases!

Use cases

What are good use cases for these physical devices together with Microsoft Flow?

Flic (flic.io)

For the Flic there are great use cases. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Logging work hours (Example)
  • Gathering feedback and send it to Power BI
  • Count visitors at events (template available here)
  • Various field engineer usecases (Check out a great example by Daniel Christian in the video below. You can find the blog here)

There are also some really cool scenarios in this blog post by the Flic team! Make sure to check them out!

Bttn (bt.tn)

  • Create a high priority issue: this could be great for when you have customers and you want to offer them something extra with a Bttn device that opens a high priority issue in your IT Service Management system
  • Order an Uber ride
  • Order extra inventory
  • Change your signs with Signagelive (video below)

For more use cases, take a look at the Flow Blog.

Pros and cons

Both devices are really cool to play around with, but I wanted to share some more things I have experienced with these devices.

There are some pros that both devices have:

  • You can connect almost everything with it!
  • There are three click types you can use. This means you can put three scenario's in one Flow for a device!
  • Both devices are brandable, so you can order devices with your own logo on it!

Flic (flic.io)

The Swedish company Shortcut Labs started a campaign to crowdfund the Flic button. It worked pretty good, because they have raised almost a million dollars with it.

You can push a Flic to trigger actions through your mobile phone. It works through bluetooth - you can pair it with iOS, Android and Mac OS X - and it has a lot of services available to use. For example: Microsoft Flow, IFTTT, Zapier and lots of others.

+ Pros

There a a couple of great things about the Flic button:

  • It's small! You can easily take it everywhere.
  • It responds really quick, just a small push and amost instantly you feel your phone vibrate to confirm the Flic button has been pressed.
  • It's cheap! I got mine for 35 euros.

- Cons

  • The BIG downside of Flic is: you have to carry your phone around all the time to make sure the Flic will trigger. Luckily, there is a solution coming for this later this year: the Flic hub!

Bttn (bt.tn)

Bttn is a Finnish company and they started a crowdfund campaign, just like Flic. They raised more than 50 thousand dollars with their first device and announced their newest member - the Bttn Mini - last year.

Unlike the Flic-button, it doesn't need an Mobile Phone connected to it. You can push the Bttn / Bttn Mini to trigger almost everything thats connected through the internet. For example: Microsoft Flow, IFTTT, Zapier and lots of others.

+ Pros

The Bttn is an awesome device because of the following pros:

  • It's big! Imagine one with your logo on it... A BIG logo ;-)
  • You can buy a normal and a mini version.
  • Bttn has a WiFi, a mobile & a Sigfox version.
  • Doesn't need an smartphone.

- Cons

  • It's big! For lots of cases you don't want a big button lying around. Of course there is the mini, but it's still not as small as the Flic.
  • It takes a while before the action is sent out, so it's not a great fit if you have to click a lot in a short period of time. EDIT: Bttn reached out to me in the comments below. When you connect it through micro-USB, the Bttn gets faster!
  • It's relatively expensive. It costs 99 euros. EDIT: One Bttn will cost you 99 euros, but if you buy multiple Bttn's it gets cheaper.

Templates

The Microsoft Flow team already created Flic & Bttn templates for you. You can find the ones for Flic here and the ones for Bttn here!

Conclusion

You should buy one or more of these physical buttons! They really help you with figuring out how to use Flow at your company or customer. Physical buttons are really handy when you have a Flow for it that needs to run every once in a while. Remember, the buttons don't have inputs like text inputs or dropdowns, so you have to think a bit differently...

Although the Flic button has a bit more options with services out of the box, I am not telling you which one you should buy, because both devices have their pros and cons. I hope this blog helps you to pick which one you want for yourself, your company or your customers. Have fun!

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