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Apple Reported to be Working on 'Mainstream' Smart Home Hardware

Tim Maytom

homekitApple is looking to expand on the recent introduction of its HomeKit software by creating an array of devices for the connected home market, according to inside sources.

The company is beyond the exploratory phase of development, and while it has not yet been specified what category of smart home devices Apple are working on, it believes the home will be an important and lucrative market and that any devices it produces will see mainstream usage, according to sources speaking to 9to5Mac.

The company is unlikely to compete directly with the devices already established by Google's Nest, but instead feels it can build products that will gain wider usage beyond thermostats and smoke detectors. According to the sources, control panels for homes and advanced speaker systems are likely to be among the devices it is working on, bolstered by its acquisition of Beats Electronics and the existing speaker systems it already offers.

The HomeKit software for iOS 8 introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference will allow iPhone and iPad users to control home appliances like lights, locks and garage doors more easily, integrating multiple apps into one unified control centre, and allowing for voice activation through Siri. By introducing its own smart home devices, Apple could create a more complete home ecosystem, and mirror the integration of iTunes with the iPod, and the Health app with the heavily rumoured iWatch.

Apple has already begun moving into the home with its Apple TV, but with growing competition from Google and Amazon, as well as existing smart TV manufacturers, has yet to distinguish itself and will need to work hard to remain competitive. Almost a decade ago, it also attempted to introduce an iPod hi-fi stereo system, but high pricing and fierce competition resulted in a rare misstep that failed to find an audience.

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