Apple has always been the kind of company that marches to the beat of its own drum. Until the June Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple showed little interest in building a device ecosystem around Siri, its voice assistant technology which has been an iPhone feature since 2011. While Amazon and Google have been quick to integrate their voice tech into other products, Apple has been content to limit Siri to its own devices and has supported a carefully curated set of products that work with HomeKit, its app interface for controlling smart home devices.
Now it appears that the company is slowly expanding its relationship with third-party device makers such as Ecobee, a company that makes a leading smart thermostat. Apple featured the thermostat during its keynote presentation, and even announced support for the new smart home interoperability standard, Matter. A complete list of Siri-enabled devices is forthcoming, but this is clearly a shift in smart home strategy at the company.
Providing a unique Apple twist for the smart home, the company also announced Home Keys, a feature that enables one to lock or unlock their home by tapping on their iPhone or Apple Watch. Yale, Schlage and August Home, leading makers of smart locks that are HomeKit compatible, will undoubtedly benefit from this new watch and phone capability.
“Apple’s overtures towards interoperability are a step in the right direction for the smart home industry,” said Stuart Sikes, Senior Vice President at Interpret. “It remains to be seen how widespread Siri support will become, but most consumers want to have a choice, and they expect their products to work together regardless of brand.”
According to Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix™, smart home control is the tenth (of eighteen queried) most frequent use of smart speakers among all of those that own the devices. Apple’s latest announcement can be expected to increase the popularity of that use case, as Apple slowly brings smart home functions to its large customer base.