iHome - Apple's Push for Home Automation
The Nest Protect smart smoke alarm could become one of the first certified devices made for Apple's new home automation platform.

Thus far, Apple's efforts in the connected home have been fragmented at best.

It sells a range of third-party 'connected' devices which you can control from your iPhone along with its own Apple TV which allows you take over your TV using your iPhone or iPad to control it.

As the internet of things and the connected home really take hold, Apple is set to make a much bigger impact in the market, with the launch next week at WWDC of a new platform which will allow you control a range of connected devices from a single app on your iPhone.

Apple won't start making connected cameras or Wi-Fi-enabled light bulbs but it will begin certifying devices from third-party manufacturers - such as Philips and Nest - in a similar way to its 'Made for iPhone' branding which appears on headphones and speakers.

The certification - along with a new brand and logo - will appear on the new devices along with an assurance from Apple that the connected product won't be susceptible to cyber-attacks - a major concern for many people looking to connect their homes.

The news comes from Tim Bradshaw at the Financial Times who has spoken to people familiar with Apple's plans and who say the company is ready to reveal details at Apple's annual developer conference - WWDC - which is taking place next week.

Lack of innovation

Apple has been criticised of late for a lack of innovation and is seen by some as stagnating having had five years of huge success with the iPhone and iPad lines.

Indeed a report last week suggested Apple's had lost $37 billion (£22bn) in value over the last 12 months as a result of its lack of innovation.

Home automation is seen as one of the next major areas of growth - along with wearable technology - in developed markets where smartphone and tablet sales have begun to slow.

Google, Samsung and LG are already making in-roads into this area.

Google earlier this year bought Nest, the home automation company, for $3.2 billion and Tuesday the company was reported to be actively investigating an acquisition of Dropcam - the makers of connected Wi-Fi security cameras.

Samsung and LG are using the fact they both produce home appliances as well as smartphones to connect people's homes, allowing you to talk or text your washing machine or oven while out of the house.

Patented

It is unclear exactly how Apple's new platform would work, but one way suggested by Bradshaw is that the lights in your home would switch on as you opened the front door, with your iPhone communicating to the connected device to indicate its location.

This system would mimic a patent filing Apple submitted last year.

Apple has long been rumoured to be working on a new and improved version of its Apple TV set-top box, and the move into home automation could see it develop this product into a home hub which acts as an intermediary between your iPhone and the various connected devices.

Through its retail stores, Apple already sells products like the Philips Hue, Nest Learning Thermostat and the Dropcam cameras which Google is thinking of buying.

Each of these devices works in a different way and uses a separate app, making the experience fragmented.

The new Apple platform could see the devices connected through a single Apple-designed app which would make the experience a much more attractive one for first-time users.

Apple's WWDC 2014 conference begins on Monday, 2 June with the keynote due to kick off at 10am local time (5pm UK time).