"Siri, do the dishes": Apple moves into the "smart home" market

Apple hopes to exploit the demand for connectivity with a line of home furnishings and appliances that run on iOS

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 19, 2016 9:29PM (EDT)

 (AP/Kiichiro Sato)
(AP/Kiichiro Sato)

Apple’s HomeKit app may be free, but if you download it, the company has $30,000 worth of devices for your home that it would like to sell you, many of which run using the app.

Perhaps to make up for the slowdown in iPhone sales, Apple is betting big on the so-called "internet of things" — connected versions of everyday objects, in particular the household variety. Apple is teaming up with the makers of home products to release furnishings that you can operate using their technology. These include app-controlled video doorbells, automated thermostats, security systems, fans, shades, locks, and lights. Apple’s vision of a so-called “smart home” is very much in line with the Target Open House launched by Target Corp. in San Francisco last year, a futuristic sample home which highlighted many of the same ideas being brought to the fore now by Apple.  

This isn’t to say that everyone is impressed with the idea of a smart home, or with Apple’s attempt to get in on the ground floor. "HomeKit collides with the rest of the industry," explained WigWag CEO Ed Hemphill in an interview with The Register. Despite developing an open-source hub to work with IoT and smart home devices, WigWag refuses to work with Apple because they require smart home customers to use an Apple chip, go through a certification program, and only use components provided by their company. In addition, many Apple products aren’t compatible with those manufactured by other companies. It's perhaps telling that Hemphill reports that none of his customers have asked about Apple’s smart house products.

The Home app has also been criticized for being difficult to use. Apple's iOS 10 software includes a dedicated Home app and new Siri commands that let you control your devices with an Apple TV,” wrote Taylor Martin of CNet. “But the update missed out on one important thing: Making the Home app easy to use.”


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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