By Jim Karpen on Tue, 05/27/2014
As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard discussed in this post, there was a report out Monday from The Financial Times saying that Apple will be announcing a new Smart Home platform during next Monday's keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple has been working on an integrated home system for at least several years, with a number of patent applications indicating what they have in mind. In this post from January of 2012, for example, I pointed to a patent application that described a single device that would automatically detect appliances available for it to control. This would include TV, video disk player, stereo, computer, and home device controls, such as security, lighting, thermostat, and a wide range of other devices that are now Internet connected, such as the intelligent thermostat from Nest and smart light bulbs from Hue.
The problem is that while there are now many networked devices that have apps that let you control them with your iPhone or iPad, there is no common interface or standard. Apple's vision, as I understand it, is to create a common platform so that setting up and controlling these devices would be easy and intuitive. And of course, any new platform requires the participation of developers. So WWDC is exactly the sort of venue to introduce this new platform, show them how it works, and get them excited about it.
The Financial Times says that Apple has been talking to companies that make smart home products. If they make them compatible with Apple's new platform, then Apple will certify the devices and sell them in their retail stores. The report says that the certification would be similar to Apple's "Made for iPhone" label that it gives to accessories, but with new branding and a new logo.
Apple is famous for the effective integration of its ecosystem of devices and apps and cloud, such that everything "just works." Imagine that ecosystem extending to include all manner of devices that are now part of the new "Internet of things" —everything from light bulbs and basketballs and thermostats, to refrigerators and toilets.
Further evidence that Apple will be introducing a new platform was noted by Computerworld, which pointed to the fact that the schedule for next week's conference has given veiled titles for dozens and dozens of WWDC sessions, such as, "No comment," "This one is sealed," "To be announced," "Shhh, can't tell you," and "You'll never guess."
It's also rumored that iOS 8 will include a focus on health and fitness and a new Healthbook app. If this is true, this could also be a new platform that Apple will introduce. I can't wait to see what they announce. Clearly we have a lot to look forward to from Apple. Now that I think about it, this seems like an obvious next step for this amazing, innovative company.
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