Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) foray into the "smart home" market will not include a full-blown control platform, according to a GigaOM report. Instead, the program will merely certify home automation products from other companies with the "Made for iPhone" label.
The report, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the program, said that the iPhone maker's connected home initiative will emphasize devices that can connect via Wi-Fi and will have components of Bluetooth connectivity and voice control. However, the effort will not have a software-based automation layer controlled by Apple, the report said.
Earlier this week the Financial Times reported that Apple would soon announce its plans to have its iPhone become a central remote control as part of a larger connected home platform. That report, which also cited unnamed sources, said Apple would unveil its plans at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which starts June 2. The report added that Apple's connected home platform will use hardware from other device makers, in contrast to its traditional approach of keeping software and hardware platforms integrated and internal.
According to GigaOM, using the MFi label will let iPhone users easily know which appliances can be controlled via their iOS devices. Apple's announcement will likely include new hardware partners that support the standard.
The GigaOM report added Apple could potential allow users to control some appliances in their home from an iPhone or iPad without opening an app, or they could open an app that controls appliances via voice control--but none of those details are confirmed at this point.
If that is the case, Apple's foray into the connected home will be more of a tentative step to assess the market and not a new standard or platform.
If Apple does jump into the home automation space, it will join a market crowded with other companies and other standards. Beyond Wi-Fi and Bluetooth there are also the Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols for connecting appliances. Further, the AllSeen Alliance, led by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and based on Qualcomm's AllJoyn standard, is designed around creating a software protocol stack that sits to allow communication between devices using mesh networking.
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