Apple plans to turn iPhone devices into remote controllers for the ‘smarter home’

26 May 2014

Tech giant Apple is preparing a new iOS software update that would convert iPhones and iPad devices into a remote controller for household appliances.

The Financial Times has reported that Apple intends to take on Google and Samsung in the ‘internet of things.’

Next week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, Apple is expected to unveil iOS 8, as well as new hardware. Apple fans are hoping the company will unveil new form factors, such as the much-anticipated – but never confirmed – iWatch and Apple television.

What they are fearing is a few new enhancements, such as Retina gracing yet another screen.

However, it appears Apple has its eye on a bigger picture fuelled by the internet of things – a world of smart, connected devices embracing software, wireless networking, wireless sensors and every day hardware.

It is expected that iOS devices will enable home owners to have their lights activated once their phone detects its location and presence or have heating come on when the keyholder is within a certain distance from the house or apartment.

The shape of the ‘internet of things’ to come

Google, which owns the rival Android mobile OS, is already gunning for the internet of things economy, having acquired thermostat maker Nest for US$3.2bn earlier this year.

Chip giant Intel is also pursuing the internet of things opportunity. Last week, while appointing three Irish executives to the role of vice-president it appointed Philip Moynagh as vice-president of its internet of things division.

Last November, Intel established a division to leverage the internet of things opportunity and plans to turn Ireland’s capital city Dublin into the world’s first internet of things city.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich predicted a future where billions of sensors and machine-to-machine devices powered by technologies, such as its new Galileo dev board, will in turn feed large volumes of data back into analytics for big data systems and services.

Returning to Apple, it has been reported that it will be working with a number of smart home device makers whose products will be certified to work with the new software system and devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

An edge that Apple hopes to apply to its new system will be privacy and the protection of personal information.

The move follows Apple’s recent launch of its CarPlay technology for cars, as well as its iBeacon indoor positioning system that could revolutionise retail and selling to consumers.

Smart home image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years