The news has leaked; next week, Apple is going to make the jump into home automation that everybody who wasn’t insisting they were going to make a magic television or a smart watch or something was predicting they were going to. It turns out studying a company’s behavior instead of hoping and dreaming is an effective analysis tool. But what is it, and how will it work? Here’s what we know.
1. It’s Tied To Your iDevice
Not the biggest surprise ever, but it turns out that Apple’s home automation systems are tied to the iPhone and iPad. The common example given is that the lights turn on when you walk through the door with a verified iPhone. Basically, it’ll all be keyed to your iDevice, and will likely also be tied and controlled via an official iOS app. Did we mention a new iOS is coming next week? Big coincidence, huh?
2. It Won’t All Be Apple Hardware
In a surprising step away from Apple’s usual behavior, though, it’s not all going to be Apple hardware. Instead, Apple will be working with a suite of companies to make their devices iOS-compliant. How this will work in the long-term is an open question, but it’s an intriguing step away from the company’s usual strategy.
3. In Fact, There’s No Apple Hardware On The Horizon At All…Yet
If you were looking for the iLightbulb, forget about it; there are no rumors Apple will be introducing its own home hardware. That makes a kind of sense, in that it’s hard to break into the home furnishings market, but it also means that Apple will have to fight hardware manufacturers who may have their own ideas about how you use their stuff. It’s hard to see Apple compromising… well, at all.
That said, Apple does own companies like PrimeSense, which made the Kinect. So this won’t be the case forever.
4. That Approach Makes It Modular
Of interest is that this means you can hack your home as much or as little as you want. If you just want to swap out the lightbulbs for something a little more futuristic, you can do that. But if you want to go whole-hog, with locks, climate control, blinds, you name it, that’s available to you as well.
5. Expect Voice And Gesture Features
Nobody likes Siri. That’s kind of a given, because, well, everybody uses Siri for about a week and then defaults to using their finger like a normal person. But Apple has poured a lot of money into Siri, gesture controls, and other “frictionless” controls, so expect those features to be prominent in any software it reveals.
6. It’ll Be Coming Fast
Considering that this is all software, most likely tied to the new version of iOS, and built on existing hardware you can buy, this isn’t going to be some sort of abstract demonstration. When this debuts at the Worldwide Developer Conference next week, expect it to have a concrete release date, or even be available in some form. We’ll find out June 2nd.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.