Where the heck is the Apple smart home?

Sections: Appliances, CES, Features, HVAC, Internet of Things, Lighting control, Remote control, Security, Smart Home, Video

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Roku was all over CES…. Where was Apple?


With all the recent buzz about the smart home, and home-technology innovation running rampant, it begs the question: Where the bejesus is Apple? On the heels of the recent announcement that Google purchased Nest for a jaw-dropping $3.2 billion, Apple’s silence on the smart-home front is puzzling in the quest for smart-home world domination. Sure, there are higher-end Apple-based solutions like those from Savant, but as far as user-installed smart home technology, it’s been crickets so far.

With nearly all smart-home technology being controllable via the iPhone or iPad and iOS apps galore for other smart-home platforms, we need an Apple solution. Apple equates to easy and brainless user operation, for which the smart home is practically begging. In addition to it being seamless to the end user, smart home technology needs to be sexy. Cool enough to want to tell your friends about; cool enough to want to feature prominently in your abode. Apple is usually the leader at that sort of thing.

What we do know is that the company has a couple of patents for the smart home, one that Apple Insider reported was awarded late last year:

Apple’s invention is rooted in location data. A user’s position can be obtained from any number of outlets, including a computer login, an iPhone transmitting GPS coordinates and cell tower triangulation, among others. These so-called “first devices” are integral to the automation process as they act as triggers for the control of “second devices,” like televisions, lights and more.

Kind of like geo-fencing on steroids, this solution would make your Apple devices location triggers using all manner of cellular and wireless technology to track users, causing your home to react when you come near.  The company also has a patent to make your iPhone or iPad the universal remote for not just your Apple TV, but your entire home. The patent was filed in 2008 but has not appeared on the scene yet. There has also been some talk of an Apple dock that would allow Siri to have a place in the home. While the company seems to have ideas in their vault, the fact they haven’t let them out yet belies their position as the innovator, with other companies beating them to the punch. After all, to be an innovator, it means you have to be first with technologies. Just look at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) for examples.

Apple’s attitude toward trade shows in general has always been one of abstinence, and traditionally that approach has been OK, re-enforcing the company’s sort of aloof ‘cool’ factor. However, with companies like Roku being humble enough to show their innovations at a lowly trade show, Apple’s absence seemed like a fail, taking the company from ‘cool’ to ‘too-cool-for-school’. For one, Roku released its Roku TV line (in TCL and Hisense models) at CES, which basically uses Roku TV as the Smart TV platform, in addition to allowing Roku to control your TV. Roku as user interface–that’s pretty powerful. The company innovated elsewhere with solutions for cord cutters, like the VOXX MyWayTV that includes digital TV antenna and a Roku streaming device, possibly closing the deal for many gun-shy cord-cutting wannabes. In short, Roku has positioned itself nicely to be a top choice for consumer content delivery across hardware devices.

While we can only speculate about Apple’s plans for the home of the future, we predict that when (and if) its smart home solution comes out it will be way cool. But for now, they got a lot o’ catching up to do.

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  • RMurphy

    Apple tends to just do things on their on timeline, yet the best. They did not release the first portable MP3 player, smart cell phone or tablet device. However, when they dropped in their innovation of the product… it changed those categories forever. When they drop an innovation into a category, they usually become the standard by which all others are judged and found inadequate. Innovating at that level requires a maniacal focus on perfection regardless of board members, investors and opinions of the masses. I remember seeing the keynote address for the original iPhone. It was like seeing a magic show. Was this stuff real…? Can they really do that…? Now every phone maker attempts the once yet conceived. Time will tell if Apple can continue to maintain the focus that only comes from a guy like Steve Jobs without a guy like Steve Jobs…
    We can only hope. Apple innovation has changed the world.

    • Krissy Rushing

      Totally agree and great points. Again, smart-home for the masses is not there yet, but with Apple maybe it will be soon!

  • Lance Laurent

    Ever hear of the Savant Systems automation? It’s all apple based products.

    • Krissy Rushing

      Yes, we mentioned them in the article. We are talking about the more DIY-friendly products that we’ve been seeing flood the market place. We love Savant Systems, they are very intuitive and very comprehensive, but you’ll probably need an installer to set it all up properly.