According to a report in the Financial Times, Apple is poised to introduce a new home automation system at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) next month, where many electrical items in your house – from light bulbs to security systems – can be controlled using an iPhone. Apple’s plan for its WWDC is always a tightly controlled secret, and outside of anything related to iOS 8 or the next version of OS X, has been a mystery.
The newspaper quotes “people familiar with the matter,” who say Apple’s smart home system will be a “big play,” indicating it could be a major new aspect to iOS 8 and the next iPhone. While exact details are non-existent, we’re told Apple is in talks with third-party hardware manufacturers to incorporate its smart home system into other products. This could work in a similar way to the current Made for iPhone system, where Apple stamps its approval on selected accessories.
What’s not clear is how the iPhone, or any other Apple device, will interact with equipment in the home. Wi-Fi or NFC may seem like the obvious choice, but there’s also a chance Apple will use its iBeacon technology. We’ve seen iBeacons take off in retail environments, and most recently in more mainstream products such as Tzukuri’s sunglasses. An iBeacon doesn’t require much power, can be very small, and uses Bluetooth Low Energy to connect to the iPhone.
Apple isn’t the only one making a push into the home automation market. Samsung and LG have both already launched connected devices for the home, and arch-rival Google recently snapped up Nest, makers of the well-know connected thermostat. Below you can see LG’s promo video for its HomeChat system, which could provide a few clues as to Apple’s forthcoming plans. At the moment, this is all unofficial, and the FT points out Apple has changed its mind about introducing new products during WWDC at the very last minute.
The WWDC keynote presentation takes place on June 2.