The Apple iHome? Smart Home software to be unveiled at WWDC next week
Apple is purportedly readying to unveil their plans for Smart Home technology at its Worldwide Developer conference next week, according to a report in yesterday’s Financial Times. With the growth of Smartphone sales in developed countries slowing, there has been much clamouring and debate in the press and tech world over what’s next. And whilst some have heralded wearable devices (such as Google Glass and the Smartwatch) as the logical progression for smart technology (with the likes of Google, Samsung, LG, and Sony all having jumped on this bandwagon); Apple, like an experienced poker player, has been holding its cards close to its chest, content to let others speculate about their next move as they watch how the game unfolds around them. And it would seem that they have their sights set on entering Smart Home technology (though rumours abound that an iWatch is coming this year).
There have been no shortage of innovations in Smart Home devices; the Learning Thermostat by Nest (released in the UK last month) not only captured the attention of consumers, but also Google who acquired the company at the start of this year for $3.2 billion. And Samsung already have a line of Smart Home Appliances, ranging from Washing Machines to fridges, and TVs. Apple themselves have already made a tentative step towards Smart Home technology with Apple TV; a much over-looked and under-appreciated iOS device.
Part of the problem that faces Smart Home Technology is the very number of disparate products, and the fact that there is no standard on which they operate; some utilise Bluetooth 4.0, others Wi-Fi, some are iOS and Android compatible, and others work with one and not the other. So we might see Apple trying to establish iOS as the platform of choice for the Smart Home in the way Google has tried to do with wearables and AndroidWear. The fact that Apple brings with them a massive and loyal user base to the table is certainly an advantage, especially if reports are true that they are planning to roll out a program similar to their ‘Made for iPhone’ certification, which could entice many manufacturers to adopt whatever Apple has in store for the future of Smart Homes.
As for what an Apple iHome might look like; an Apple patent (cited in the FT) for controlling lighting systems, security systems, garage-door openers, music controllers, climate controllers, or kitchen appliances via wireless signalling could indicate that near-field communication will be one component of Apple’s Smart Home. However, we’ll need to wait until next week to find out more.