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Apple to unleash major push for iPhone controlled smart home at WWDC

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicks off at the start of next week, and will witness Cupertino unveiling a drive to capture the smart home market.

According to sources of the Financial Times, Apple is ready to take the wraps off a software platform that will allow the iPhone to become a controller for your home, remotely switching lights on or off, controlling security systems and other appliances.

This market, alongside digital health and fitness, is one of the next big things in the tech world, and of course we've already seen Google take strides in this arena with the acquisition of Nest for $3.2 billion (£1.9 billion).

Samsung also has Smart Home appliances, with the likes of fridges that can be controlled via its phones and wearables.

Apple clearly doesn't want to let the pair dominate this market themselves, and so is muscling in with its own Internet of Things plans. Cupertino will be placing a premium on ease of use, and making it simple for iPhone owners to control their home environment. As per a patent filed last year, the system may, for example, switch the lights on automatically when the owner returns with his or her iPhone in the evening.

The FT further claims Apple has been beavering away doing deals with smart home device manufacturers to ensure they're compatible with Cupertino's new platform – and that security concerns are addressed, with a system designed to help ensure the smart devices can stand up to probing attentions from opportunistic hackers. The last thing you want is for some card to turn your living room into a strobe-athon disco while you're settling down to watch the news. Or turn your heating on and up to max on a scorching summer day.

Furthermore, Apple also intends to play the privacy card against Google's smart home plans – underlining the fact that it isn't a company which makes a living from mining your data, and thus hoping folks will be more welcoming of its technology coming into their homes. Cupertino will have various privacy protection measures in place, apparently.

Apple certainly needs a new direction, as we've discussed many times before this year, and perhaps the smart home platform coupled with an iWatch launch is that direction. Previous reports have pegged the rumoured iWatch as a portal for home automation – as well as a fitness/health-related device – so maybe Apple is planning to attack on all fronts with its smartwatch. Assuming it ever comes out, that is.

Next week's WWDC is also expected to see a major focus on OS X for a change (as opposed to iOS), with a major redesign for the desktop OS in the wings.