Apple is working with homebuilders to make smart houses from scratch

By Kif Leswing, Businessinsider.co

Apple is teaming up with homebuilders to integrate its technology into new houses to boost its Home app that works with smart home goods like internet-connected doorbells, deadbolts, and window blinds.

Apple is working with companies like Lennar Corp, KB Home, and Brookfield Residential Properties to build and test these "Apple houses," according to a report from Bloomberg, although there's no timeline for these houses to go on sale to the public.

The idea is that it's much easier to build a new smart home from scratch rather than retrofitting an existing home.

To be clear, these houses are not being built by Apple. They're being built by professional homebuilders, which all have different approaches to the smart home. But Apple is helping the companies understand the HomeKit platform, the various vendors who are making HomeKit products, and its security features.

Model houses already built have as much as $30,000 of Apple-compatible gadgets in them. Apple doesn't actually make the smart home goods, for example, a "smart deadbolt" is made by Schlage.

Where Apple comes in is that it's providing software to integrate various home automation products together.

One example of why people might want an Apple house: they can tell Siri, Apple's voice assistant, to say, turn on the lights, or get the coffee maker started, or unlock the door even when they're miles away.

Customers who live in houses fitted out with HomeKit, Apple's smart home platform, will be less likely to switch from Apple's ecosystem. After all, if an Android phone doesn't work with your doorbell, you might just decide to stick with an iPhone.

For home builders, they're hoping that Apple's coolness can help them sell properties in new subdivisions in a housing market that's stuck in neutral.

Apple currently sells a variety of HomeKit products on its website. HomeKit is part of Apple's MFi licensing program, which certifies products like charging cables as well.

Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of product marketing, told Bloomberg that Apple wants "to bring home automation to the mainstream."

Ruben HorbachComment