Apple rumored to be preparing new home automation system for possible WWDC 2014 launch

Apple reportedly preparing new system for home automation

Apple is reported to have a home automation system in the works, with a reveal set for next week's WWDC 2014 conference. The move, which would be taking on floundering efforts by Google and Samsung, would be a big leap for Apple. Though Apple has over the years released a few components here or there for the home (see: iPod Hi-Fi), they've typically left most of the electronic accessories work to third parties.

That said, the addition of home automation to Apple products could follow a similar path as that of AirPlay, wherein Apple licenses a chip for the receiving device that enables AirPlay compatibility. A similar system, with an "Apple Home" chip (name is made up) could see home automation compatibility added to a wide range of third party devices, but still have them operating under Apple's guidelines.

To that end, Financial Times reports that Apple is working with third party manufacturers to produce products certified to work with the new system:

The scheme will be similar to Apple's existing "Made for iPhone" label, given to compatible headphones, speakers and other accessories, but with a new brand and logo. Apple may also provide additional checks and assurances that certified products are not vulnerable to hackers.

Apple announced CarPlay at WWDC 2013 and shipped it in early 2014. The addition of home automation to Apple's ecosystem would be a large one, one that would expand the reach of an iPhone or iPad or Mac into the entire home. What features would you like to see Apple build into a home automation and control system?

Source: Financial Times

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Derek Kessler

Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, occasional web designer, Army musician, armchair pundit, news addict, all-around nerd, professional ranter, and user of many phones.

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Reader comments

Apple rumored to be preparing new home automation system for possible WWDC 2014 launch


Yawn. More ridiculously priced Apple accessories like the Nest.

My Honeywell WIFI thermostat from Home Depot with the app does just fine for $80; 1/3 the price. It may not "learn" (debatable whether that even helps or how good it is) but it's programmable for 7 days and can change the settings and schedule from the app. Works just fine.

Expect 3/4 of the stuff to be generally unaffordable to the masses outside of splurging, or just 3 times the cost of other brands.

I have the nest and really love it. My favorite feature is the auto away feature. It has a sensor that knows when we leave the house and automatically adjusts. So even though I may normally be home on a Sunday afternoon if I go out it turns stuff off without me remembering to adjust. I don't know others that do this.

I know it does more but I just cannot see 3 times the price. I have no issues logging into the app and tapping off- it takes about 5 seconds flat and 2 taps if Im leaving.

but...but...but this Lamborghini is a better car. So what that it costs 5 times a normal car. Just buy it man. It's TOTALLY worth it. Bow down to pressure man. You must have it. It's new and shiny and some person on the internet told you it was good.

You think too much of yourself if you think something you do affects me enough to offend me. My comment wasn't even directed at you. The problem is the flawed logic that doing more justifies the price. The same way a Lamborghini doing more than an average car doesn't justify it's elevated price.

The Nest pays for itself in a heating season. If you also run AC in the summer you're money ahead in the first year. The learning is, in fact, important since most people don't program their thermostats to account for all of the variations that happen in their real lives (for example, kids coming home at 3pm 2 days a week, 5pm other 3 days due to after school activities).

But then, you just wanted to bitch about Apple, didn't you?

i got a great thermostat that came free with the place. You push it up to cool the place and down to heat it up. It's a window.

I'm hoping this has API that allows my Hive system to integrate more seamlessly into iOS. I want to have temp info and basic controls easily accessible - perhaps in a tab in notification centre. I'd also like better geolocation/geofencing control - preferably that doesn't kill my battery.

Feature I would want to see? Openness, or at least non-exclusivity. I love my iOS products, but they are not the only ones in my household.

Sent from the iMore App

There are so many things out there already at a better price. If I could totally Apple my house, and see a cost saving over what I already have, I may think about it. I would have to look at the pros, and cons. If no battery backup to the system, if power, or wifi goes down, do you loose everything? Nest to me is too expensive, and look at the major recall they just had over the combination detectors. I know there will be bugs in anything when first started, but cost vs savings is the big issue in the long run, and so many other variables, like you have a system, and a major company buys it out, and decides to scrap it. Things to think about.

Nest really is garbage when you look at its capabilities versus what is already out there Honeywell and otherwise. I looked at it and could not justify the price tag.

Then you need to learn the concept of Return On Investment. If you saw a 20% decrease in your heating bill (what they claimed and quite a few people who bought them experienced) and lived in a house you'd pay for the Nest with the savings from your first heating season.

The question isn't if there are cheaper alternatives - there are. The question is if the Nest keeps your house heated (and cooled perhaps) to your specs and does so more efficiently than the alternatives. If it does, then it saves you money and once it saves you the price of the Nest you're seeing positive ROI.

where the Nest (and other smart thermostats) wouldn't make sense is when you have either a situation where it can't really learn since there aren't consistent patterns, when (like me), you're single and work from home, so you keep the house cool all winter and heat the office most of the day or if you have a small condo/apartment which costs little to heat (my last condo, in a tower with concrete on the interior sides, ceiling and floor).

I'd like to think this also means there will be new Apple TV hardware at WWDC, although we aren't hearing too much about that anymore.

I would be surprised if Apple entered this market with hardware. I would expect them to release a unifying "HomeControl" service (think PassBook for home control manufacturers), but they would probably goof it up by create their own standard instead of picking up what others have already standardized. AppleTV doesn't even have HDMI-CEC. So, it's unlikely they would play nice with others. It would be nice to have your lights, HVAC, TV, etc perform certain tasks to your preferences via iPhone location, Siri, etc but I really don't see apple integrating well with others.

I work for an integration company, we've been installing Crestron, AMX, Vantage, Lutron, Somfy, DSC, etc and we can set your motorized shades to lower with the path of the sun, or automatically change t-stats, lower shade, turn off TVs & music, and turn off all lights when you arm the alarm to away. This takes quite a bit of hardware, programming, and money. If a company like apple or google offers a "smart" t-stat, or even remotely switched power strips, it really only scratches the surface of what can be done, and I really doubt they will want to reach the levels of all of the companies that focus on these things full time. And, I really don't think the average apple user would want to spend $100k+ on a complete apple stamped home automation system. We'll see.