Will the New Apple TV Be the Killer Smart Home Device?
Could this be the one device to rule the smart home?
When Apple has an announcement event, the Internet appears to stop and listen. And then proceeds to tweet about it for the next 24 hours. In case your internet has been down or you’ve been binge-watching House of Cards for the last few days, Apple has announced their plans for some updated devices.
This fall there will be a new iPhone 6S (yawn, but I think I want one anyway). More super expensive Apple Watches (meh). An iPad with a physical keyboard, called the iPad Pro (about time). And a new Apple TV. No not an actual TV that everyone has been thinking is coming, but rather a rebooted version of that sleek little device that connects to your TV.
A new Apple TV may appear on the surface to be Apple’s way to get you to spend more money on a newer version of something that already works really well, but this announcement could be a huge step in the ever-developing smart home infiltration.
Today the smart home technology that is growing by leaps and bounds and features amazingly efficient and mobile-controlled products like Nest, August Locks and Lutron lighting, lacks a single hub or operating system that can allow all these devices to connect to each other. They each have their own apps, and while some devices work together, the majority do not. Companies like Lowes have tried to create their own custom smart home operating systems, but the problem is Lowes does not specialize in technology. Do I trust them to provide me with the latest and greatest in paint brushes? Yes. Do I think they are longer term app development experts? Probably not.
That’s what makes the Apple TV potentially the ultimate smart home Trojan Horse…in a good way. It’s being marketed and sold as the ultimate entertainment center, which it kind of is. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, stated that the “future of TV is apps” and that’s what the Apple TV can deliver better than other TV peripheral devices. It can allow you to watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, MLB.TV and others video centric apps on your TV, but Apple is expanding it’s capabilities into allowing for live TV alerts and integration where you can jump from app to app video streams instantly. Say you’re watching a Netflix movie, but your favorite baseball team just hit a grand slam. An alert can appear allowing you to jump to see that video instantly.
It’s like live TV, but not. Anyway, the other feature Apple is touting is the ability for Apple TV to allow you to play those iPhone games on your 60″ 4k TV screen, which in my opinion should elicit the reaction “what took you so long?!?!” Apple TV could compete with Playstation and XBox for the hearts and minds (and wallets) of the growing gamer demographic.
So what does this all have to do with the smart home? I’m finally getting to that. The app-centric Apple TV is primed to become the singular hub for smart home tech. If you think about it, almost all of these smart home devices can be controlled from your iPhone meaning they all operate on a single operating system: iOS. Can the Apple TV be the connective hub that allows your thermostat to talk to your lights and then relay a signal to the fridge to make some more ice because it’s looking like an iced latte kind of day? I think it can.
While the smart phone will most likely be the destination where you’ll interact with your device’s interfaces, the Apple TV is that connective tissue that can hold your smart home together. The potential is there and at $149 for the updated device coming in October of this year, it can almost be considered a bargain.
My only challenge to Apple is for them to figure out a way that I can watch live local sports teams on Apple TV. They solve that, just take my money because it’s theirs.
All this new Apple TV functionality does come with one word of caution: prepare yourself for higher internet service charges. The cord cutting phenomenon still requires an internet connection and I’m willing to be the majority of people still get internet service from their local TV service provider. Not only will prices probably go up, but with all the connected smart home devices, tablets, gaming systems and laptops that will be running on your home’s network chances are you’ll need to start shelling out for higher download and upload speeds.
Out of everything Apple had to announce this week, the new Apple TV at $149 appears to be a solid investment for the smart home owner.