Apple is joining forces with some of the world’s biggest tech companies to work on the adoption of a new connectivity standard designed for smart home products.
According to a new press release, Apple, Google, Amazon, and other technology companies have teamed up to develop a smart home connectivity standard that makes it easier for software and devices to work together across the smart home ecosystem.
Connected Home Over IP, as the new working group is called, will be spearheaded by the Zigbee Alliance, a group of companies that develop and maintain the ZigBee standard, which enables close-proximity devices (e.g light switches, smart speakers, locks) to talk to each other in the home.
Apple says that it wants to increase the compatibility of devices to make life easier for consumers:
The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.
In other words, no matter which device you choose to buy, it will operate under the same standard and work seamlessly within your personal ecosystem.
“The industry working group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol,” reads the press release. “The project intends to use contributions from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others. The decision to leverage these technologies is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol, and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster.”
Google adds in its own blog post that you will be able to “choose between Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or other platforms” on your smart device of choice.
Aside from those big names, there is wider input from other Zigbee Alliance members – Ikea, Signify (Philips Hue), Samsung SmartThings, amongst others – and the underlying principle is security. It’s also aiming to be royalty-free standard, which should hopefully mean that third-party devices will be secure and we’ll see an end to stories of hacks on cheap smart home devices.