Apple is going to make a big play in the connected smart home space, according to a new report from the Financial Times. The company is planning a platform that would turn its iOS devices, including the iPhone, to control their smart home devices, doing things like controlling lights, security systems and connected appliances. This platform would be built into the iPhone, centralizing control rather than spreading it over multiple third-party apps, the FT says, and it’ll be shown off at the Worldwide Developers Conference next week.
It’ll incorporate not only the iPhone and iPad, but also the Apple TV, the report claims, which will get an update to its hardware later this year. Combined, these will allow users to do things like set lights to turn on automatically when they enter their home, for instance, or turn on their security systems when they leave the house. The system would work like Apple’s “Made for iPhone” program with third-party hardware, per the FT, allowing accessory makers like Dropcam, Nest and Philips to get their connected home devices certified to work with Apple’s central automation platform.
The FT compares this to AirPlay, CarPlay and iBeacon, and the implication is that it could work with Bluetooth LE for some of the automation functions. It also notes that some analysts have predicted NFC inclusion in the next generation of iPhone, which could work well with this kind of smart home approach.
Apple entering this space could mean bad news for startups like SmartThings that already offers similar services, but it could greatly speed up the adoption of smart home devices by consumers. Smart home tech is still in its infancy in terms of broad consumer use, despite increasing buy-in by legacy home appliance companies like Philips, Honeywell and more. Google has also already declared its intention of focusing on Internet of Things and smart home tech, so it makes sense that Apple would move aggressively to stake a claim here, too.
New versions of iOS and OS X are also expected at WWDC next week, and this and many more exciting announcements will likely be revealed on Monday at the keynote on June 2, if they are indeed going to come to pass.