Apple may be planning to release a new app designed to manage its partners' smart home products, which will begin shipping next month. According to 9to5Mac, Apple employees are testing versions of iOS 9 that include an app called Home, which allows a user to set up new smart home products, group them into different rooms, connect them to an Apple TV, and find new products to buy. That means the app is largely for setup — seemingly not for actually controlling your home — which ties into how Apple has been positioning its smart home back end, called HomeKit, all along.
HomeKit products begin shipping next month
It's entirely possible that Home is an internal testing app that will not see a public release. However, the inclusion of what 9to5Mac describes as a "series of screens" that allows people to find new smart home apps and products suggests that this could be an app that's meant to end up in the public's hands. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: Read the iOS 9 review.
Apple's intention is for HomeKit to be a backbone for smart home products, allowing for multiple devices within the same home to connect with each other through iOS. Those devices can all be controlled through Siri and third-party apps, with any given app able to control products from different companies thanks HomeKit. There doesn't appear to be an Apple app — aside from Siri, if you consider that an app — that can actually be used to control HomeKit products. Even so, people who buy those products are going to need some way to set them up, and a dedicated Home app seems like a logical way to do that. If the app is coming, there's a good chance we'll hear about it at Apple's developers conference, on June 8th.