If you look back Apple's history, it is really interesting.
At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in 2014, Apple dipped its toes into the nascent smart home market with the launch of HomeKit, a developer program for hooking up smart devices in iOS. It was Apple's typical closed-garden approach: developers had to integrate a dedicated authentication chip into their device and go through extensive certification testing through the MFi ("Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad") program.
As every one (including Microsoft) opens its gate, Apple is opening up the doors a bit.
In this week conference, Apple said that HomeKit is now open to any Apple developer to tinker around with. Developers no longer have to get an MFi license to start controlling prototypes of smart home gadgets. They can even develop prototypes on top of popular developer boards like Raspberry Pi and Arduino. But once these developers want to bring a product out commercially, they still have to go through MFi certification.
Apple's announcement includes HomePod, a speaker powered by Apple's voice assistant, Siri. The HomePod has a six-microphone array to pick up the user's voice from anywhere in a room.
Smart speakers from Amazon and Google have been catching on lately as the hot new tech gadget and they've become a popular platform for controlling smart home devices.