The connected home is coming: Apple is turning the iPhone into a gadget remote control

Apple's first big play for the 'Internet of Things' could be announced at its annual conference on June 2, but will it get its bite back?

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 06 Aug 2014

- Read MT's feature on the 'Internet of Things'

There’s been a question mark over how Apple will move into the ‘Internet of Things’ since Google bought ‘smart’ thermostat maker Nest for $3.2bn in January and Samsung unveiled its Smart Home range of appliances that can be controlled from its smartphones and watches.

The answer, for now, is the tech giant wants iPhones to become remote controls for lights, burglar alarms and other household appliances, according to anonymous sources speaking to the FT. Seems the connected home is literally just around the corner.

The technology is likely to be unveiled at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 2 (in San Francisco of course), although it has backtracked at the last minute on plans for its yearly knees-up in the past. One example could be lights coming on when someone returns home (or their iPhone does, at least) – Apple filed a patent for something of that ilk last November.

The mac-maker has been talking to a group of companies about certifying their smart home products to work with the new operating system. It already sells connected gadgets including Nest thermostats and Phillips Hue lightlbulbs on the Apple Store. However, these are controlled by third-party apps, meaning an integrated Apple platform will be playing catch-up to an extent.

In the last year Apple launched CarPlay, which beams iPhone apps onto a driver’s dashboard screen, and iBeacon, which allows retailers and event organisers to send location-based message, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to move that technology into the home.

With fanboys and investors getting increasingly impatient waiting for the ‘next big thing’ (five years after the iPad was unveiled) and eyebrows raised recently over the company’s reported $3.2bn purchase of headphone-maker Beats, all eyes will be on the WWDC to see if the connected home can get Apple its bite back.

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