Essentially, these are basic interactions you can create yourself with triggers or events and actions that should occur when a specific event happens. If I receive a direct message on Twitter, for example, I can have IFTTT send me an email message. The interface on the IFTTT site is fairly straightforward, with an almost plug-and-play approach.
But to get devices and apps talking to each other, IFTTT has to have a channel to support recipes that make the magic happen. It now has one for what it calls Amazon Alexa, or in other words, for the Amazon Echo.
As of now, you can connect the Amazon Alexa channel with 116 other channels. That means you have 116 new services an Echo can work with. Some example channels include Gmail, Evernote, ToDoist, Reminders on iOS and Belkin's WeMo products for the smart home. Using the latter, for example, you could control WeMo light switches by speaking to Amazon Echo.
Amazon will surely add more features and integration of its own into the Echo over time. That's the point of the SDK. However, you don't need to wait for app makers to tap into that programming toolkit. Instead, with IFTTT, you can create your own uses for the Amazon Echo with some simple recipes.