Described as a move into the "internet of things," Apple's remote management system will take on Google, which recently acquired Nest Labs, maker of popular self-learning home thermostats. Samsung has also started offering smart home products, including refrigerators and other home appliances.
Apple's approach is said to add a set of APIs to the iOS platform that will allow developers to create home automation platforms that will use various iOS devices, such as an iPhone, as a remote controller or as part of the overall automation platform. An example can be found in a recent patent filing in which Apple describes a system that detects the location of a wireless communication device (an iPhone), and then responds by setting lighting, adjusting temperature, opening or closing garage doors, or configuring entertainment systems appropriately for the detected event.
The Financial Times believes Apple has lined up a group of home automation device makers who will sell their products with a "Made for iOS" certification, indicating compatibility with the new iOS automation software platform.
Apple already offers the Phillips HUE line of LED light bulbs that can be controlled remotely using software running on an iOS device. But in that case, the software can only be used with the Phillips HUE products. With the new iOS platform, apps can be created to work with a wide range of remotely controlled devices.