Apple HomeKit to let iPhone users remotely control homes

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Apple has put paid to speculation it's gearing up for a push into the smart and connected home market with the release of its HomeKit feature in iOS 8.

The offering will enable iPhone users to control a range of smart devices made by third-party providers, with the help of the firm's voice assistant Siri.

Speaking at the WWDC keynote in San Francisco earlier today, Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering at Apple, said the offering means users say "get ready for bed" and the doors to their home will lock.

Furthermore, users will also be able to group together similar types of smart devices so they can all be controlled at once via the iPhone. For instance, a user could group together all their house lights to control their intensity or switch them on at night when their house is empty.

Federighi said, with so many apps and devices on the market designed to tap into the connected home trend, it wanted to bring some "rationality" to proceedings.

Rumours about the consumer electronics giant making a concerted push into the smart and connected home market have been gathering momentum in recent weeks.

Sources tipped off The Financial Times that Apple was working on a software platform that would allow iOS device users to regulate the lights, heating and security systems within their homes.

Samsung and Google have already made moves on the connected homes market, which feeds into the wider Internet of Things trend.

According to market watcher Gartner, Internet of Things product and service suppliers will be responsible for generating more than $300 billion in revenue by 2020, which should go some way to explain why so many giants of the tech world are showing an interest in this area at the moment.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.