Apple Assembles New Team with Home Automation Goals in Mind

HomeKit is the first step in this direction, like iTunes was for the iPod

Apple has put together a team to create hardware products for the home that will be controlled with iDevices via the HomeKit framework, according to people familiar with the company’s internal plans.

These sources say Apple intends to make home-automation devices that go beyond thermostats and smoke detectors and integrate with existing Apple devices, such as the iPhone and the iPad.

These people told 9to5mac that Apple considers the home “an incredibly important and lucrative potential market and that the devices will see ‘mainstream’ usage.” One of the people actually said that Apple is considering building “advanced speaker systems or control panels for homes.”

If the speaker thing is true, that could mean yet another reason why Apple acquired Beats Electronics for such an exorbitant price. Beats, as some of you may know, has some of the world’s most talented audio experts working on headphones and speaker systems.

The rumor bodes well with Apple’s WWDC announcement of HomeKit, a new framework / API allowing iDevices to control home appliances, such as door locks and lights. It even integrates with Siri, which will allow users to just speak out their intentions and let the computers do the rest.

“HomeKit is a new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user’s home. Apps can enable users to discover devices in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. Users can group actions together and trigger them using Siri,” Apple explains.

“If your app is primarily designed to provide home configuration or home automation services such as turning on a light or opening a garage door, learn more about the HomeKit APIs and get started with the iOS 8 SDK and Xcode 6 beta,” the company adds.

Providing seamless integration between accessories that support Apple's Home Automation Protocol and iOS devices, Home Kit will revolutionize home automation by promoting a common protocol. A public API is made available to allow communication with those devices.

In Apple’s own words, “Home Kit makes possible a marketplace where the app a user controls their home with [sic] doesn’t have to be created by the vendor who made their home automation accessories, and where home automation accessories from multiple vendors can all be integrated into a single coherent whole without those vendors having to coordinate directly with each other.”

Developers interested in creating a HomeKit accessory will need to apply to the MFi Program.

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