The Internet is invading our homes, and Apple doesn’t want to miss the trend.
Sources tell the Financial Times that Apple will unveil new technologies for controlling smart, connected devices like thermostats, lights, door locks, and more at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which takes place in San Francisco next week.
According to the report, Apple is not preparing a new hardware device to serve as a “hub” for the smart home. Instead, Apple will make it easy for hardware makers to link their devices to iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. As a result, an iPhone owner could have lights turn on at home when she walks in the door, or start playing music when she moves from room to room.
Applications already exist to turn your iPhone and iPad into smart home controllers. Apple sells Philips Hue light bulbs in its stores, for example, and they come with a companion app. Apple would formalize such efforts with a certification program that would, among other things, guarantee the safety and security of connected home devices. That’s a real concern, given the growing trend of virtual home invasions by malicious hackers.
Ever since Apple secured a smart home patent in November 2013, it’s been expected that the company would eventually announce a smart home platform. WWDC, Apple’s annual week-long effort to woo developers and show off new technologies they can incorporate into their software and hardware, is the natural place to do so.
By entering the smart home market in this way, Apple could significantly expand its presence in users’ lives while boosting sales of its existing hardware lines. There’s also the potential to sell Apple-approved home devices like thermostats and light bulbs in Apple’s own chain of retail stores.
See also: 3 Reasons Apple Should Have Bought Nest
Apple already sells Nest thermostats as well as wireless audio gear, so it has some insight into consumer appetite for smart-home devices. It may also have an advantage over other players in the smart-home market—a reputation for protecting privacy. Already, people worry that Google will start using data from its users’ smart homes to target advertising. (Google’s recently acquired Nest subsidiary has denied having such plans, but a recent filing by Google suggests other Google-powered devices might do so.) We’ll be watching Apple’s announcements next week closely to see how it plans to reassure consumers while it woos developers.