What Does iPhone3 Mean for Home Automation

iPhone 3

To many people, yesterdays announcement from Apple will mean that Cut & Paste, MMS and Turn by Turn GPS is finally making it to the iPhone. Many other improvements are coming too (forward a text message anyone?), but perhaps the most interesting stuff points towards an even bigger role for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the Smart Home.

Apple have introduced over 1,000 new APIs in the latest iPhone SDK (beta available to download now for existing devs).  Developers will have access to a raft of new assets for the first time.  These include Google Maps, the iTunes Library and Peer-to-Peer connections.  Of most note is the “External Accessory Framework” which supports communication through Bluetooth and the dock connector, opening up a whole new world of opportunities.

On top of that, Push Notifications (previously promised for September ’08) will finally be available when the OS ships this summer as well as the ability to stream audio and video.

It’s not hard to envisage systems using these calls that could play a huge part in home automation.  Your location, plus bluetooth comms, plus wifi, plus touchscreen, plus push, all add up to one heck of a “swiss army knife” of a platform.

It’s not all good news though.  Although push notification is coming, you still aren’t allowed to run 3rd party applications in the background.  You can run applications in the background on a jailbroken device and although it does have an effect on battery life, we think the user should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not to run them.

Here’s a nice video of an Android phone app that can manage your device profile based on your location – and this is a good example of what still won’t be possible on the iPhone simply because it needs to be constantly running in the background to work.

All in all though v3.0 is a significant update and more than we were expecting.  Perhaps the third generation hardware that must be coming this summer too, will have the battery life, RAM and CPU to run proper background tasks satisfactorily.

the iPhone in the Smart Home

4 Comments on "What Does iPhone3 Mean for Home Automation"

  1. Background tasks will never happen. Apple would not release software for push to only have that software scrubbed with new hardware, even if catering for old generation iPhones, forget it.

    Also, this is important, right now manufacturers let you have too much freedom. That’s dangerous, it can ruin the experience. But in the realm of Home Automation hacking is still king.

    I admit I forgot about home automation and what the External Accessory Framework would mean for it, this is exciting. However I feel that HA will still be left behind as always, I mean look what we have now, its all hacky.

    I would like to see Apple release some devices, ones that people could buy off the shelf and plug’n’play, its not there yet but I know Apple must be thinking about this.

  2. “Apple have introduced ”

    Apple is a single corporation so the phrase should be Apple has introduced etc.

  3. Maybe, but the people who work for it are many, and it’s they who do the doing & bringing to market – the corporation is just the device through which they do it !

  4. iPhone 3.0 is not yet out – ie: there’s still time to make suggestions to the people at Apple about what we’d like & not-like … it’s not to late ! There’s a special e-mail address for doing this … I’ll see if I can find it …

    found it … here :


    I’m sure they’ll pick up on anything expressed clearly, briefly & sensibly !!

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