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Apple Makes A Play For 'Smart Homes' By Connecting Appliances

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Apple Makes A Play For 'Smart Homes' By Connecting Appliances

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Apple Makes A Play For 'Smart Homes' By Connecting Appliances

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It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. In All Tech Considered today, the arrival of the Jestson's lifestyle.


CORNISH: We're taking an introductory look at smart homes, and the Internet of things. That means ordinary appliances, lights and locks, heating and cooling systems that learn your behavior and can be controlled by your phone. Apple is now getting into this marketplace, the announcement came at it's worldwide developers conference. NPR's Elise Hu joins us now with more on the conference. Hey there Elise.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: Hey, there Audie.

CORNISH: Now, before we get into the automated homes, what did Apple unveiled today?

HU: Well, mainly software improvements. It unveiled the latest Mac operating system, named OS X Yosemite, and its latest iPhone operating system, iOS. It also officially announced it's moving into health tracking. As you know, there are plenty of health and fitness trackers out there already that monitor your weight or your sleep. Apple says a lot of that data currently is siloed and lives in different places, so it's new app called Health is a centralized hub for all your health data.

CORNISH: All right. Now, it also announced something called HomeKit for smart homes. And we know Apple is already a big name when it comes to like smartphones and tablets - are they trying to make ovens and washer and driers now?

HU: Good question, but the company isn't actually going to manufacture appliances. HomeKit is aiming to be the thread, if you will, that connects smart appliances and devices. There are different companies, offering different devices and different appliances and they are on their own security protocols and their own networks. Now what Apple is trying to do with HomeKit is create a single place where you can control everything. So this turns your iPhone into a remote control, if you will, so that you could open your garage door or unlock your front door with your phone. And if you integrate it with Siri, you could tell Siri something like, get ready for bed and HomeKit would automatically lower your thermostat and dim your lights and lock your front door.

CORNISH: What about the companies already in this business? Are they worried about Apple, do they see them as a competitive threat?

HU: Well, it's not clear, Cisco and a company called SmartThings and others are already upping their software game to create central control hubs. So some of the appliance makers may not want to displace their own work with Apple's centralized system, since Apple has historically wanted a lot of restrictions and rules around it's partners. But this is a nascent of market. It's extremely fragmented right now, so it'll be interesting to watch how Apple's involvement is going to change the field.

CORNISH: That NPR's Elise Hu. Elise, thank you.

HU: Thank you.

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