A recent report suggests that Apple may just unveil a new iOS-based platform that would let the iPhone or iPad control every aspect of the user’s home, from security systems, lights and connected appliances. The iPhone would be the focal point of a user's digital universe.
The report claims that this home automation system will not only incorporate the iPhone and iPad, but also the Apple TV which will get an update to its hardware later in the year. This would allow a user to turn on lights of the building automatically when the user gets home or turn on their security systems when they leave the house. There is no clarity on other possible features and the company is yet to finalize all the features, the report says, perhaps additional features could be added after the official announcement.
Apple will allow other manufacturers to create products for its smart home platform with a scheme similar to Apple’s ‘Made for iPhone’ programme. It will also supervise quality checks and set privacy limitations on all the devices made by these third-party developers. This will help the company reverse any security fears that consumers might have. Accessory makers like Dropcam, Nest and Philips will get their connected home devices certified to work and be able to connect into Apple's ecosystem. Apple already sells smartphone-controlled products including thermostats, light bulbs and cameras through a connected home section on its website.
There is no information on which technology will allow iPhones integrate with the automation function of the smart home platform. If Apple develops iBeacon technology for this cause, then the previous iPhones and iPads will be compatible with the new home automation platform.
Analysts think NFC is a probable candidate to be built into the next generation of iPhone which could work well with this kind of smart home approach. If NFC technology is used to integrate homes with iPhones, then older devices like iPhone 5S and iPad Air will not be compatible and users will have to change to newer models. However, rumors suggest that Apple using the technology to enter mobile payment services and not connected homes. The report comes on the heels of Google acquiring connected camera start-up Dropcam has emerged.
Even with some established players like Google and Samsung already on the field, the smart home market is still in its very early days in terms of growth and potential. Apple may encounter challenges in persuading consumers and technologists to make use of its platform. But with Apple’s long track record of successfully selling products, a home automation play could be their next big thing.