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Google and Apple battle for the smart home hub

2014-07-07 09:30 by
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After last week Nest Labs of Palo Alto, California, released the software behind its internet-connected thermostat and smoke detector systems to outside developers, now anyone can build apps that work with Nest's products - which have found their way into more than a million homes since the company was founded in 2010. The company that was acquired by Google earlier this year expects more than 5000 developers to be interested in tapping into its system. These include home appliance giant Whirlpool, fitness tracking pioneer Jawbone, and car maker Mercedes Benz. Nest Labs, however, isn't alone in the "Smart Home" initiative. Last month, Apple announced its own home-automation software, called HomeKit. It is expected to launch with Apple's iOS8 operating system this year. HomeKit will allow iPhone and iPad users to control door locks, lighting, CCTV cameras and heating/aircon systems - but rather than centring it on a thermostat, like Nest, the Apple TV internet set-top box is expected to act as its hub. SmartThings, a start-up in Washington DC, has similar ideas - and it is a step ahead of bigger firms. It has already shipped thousands of its communications hubs, along with several other in-home gadgets. It has also encouraged users to hack its SmartThings hub and come up with cool tweaks for the system, such as programming the washing machine to send a text when it's finished, or turning light bulbs blue if a water sensor detects a leak. The firm is in effect turning to its own customers for ideas on how to turn the dream of the smart home into reality.

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