Apple, aiming to drive demand for its HomeKit app, is launching so-called HomeKit experiences in multiple retail stores around the globe.
According to a report in TechCrunch, the experiences will be available in 46 retail locations. Customers will be able to use the Home app either from an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad and control devices, including a Phillips Hue lightbulb, a Hunter ceiling fan and other home devices. If users tap the choice to lower the shades in a room the action will be shown on a screen in one of Apple’s stores. TechCrunch reported that in the U.S. consumers can see the demos in Apple’s Union Square store in San Francisco, its World Trade Center and Williamsburg stores in New York, and 28 other stores around the country. Internationally, the experience will be available in 15 stores, including in the U.K., UAE, Germany, Mexico, Singapore and Taiwan, noted the report. All of the other stores will have non-interactive HomeKit demos. With the Home app users can control all sorts of smart home devices.
The move on the part of Apple is designed to play a bigger role in the smart home devices market, which is set to explode. Earlier this summer it announced the HomePod, a voice-activated speaker for the home. The device was also shown as a hub to control HomeKit-enabled devices, including lights, heating, the garage door and cooling, among other things. TechCrunch noted that Apple hasn’t set a time frame for how long the demos will run in its stores, but it’s likely to keep them through December, the month the HomePod launches. Apple’s push is also designed to take on the competition, which is increasingly getting into the smart-home device market. While Amazon has been the dominant player thanks to its Echo speaker powered by voice-activated assistant Alexa, Alibaba, Microsoft, Google and others are either in or getting into the market as well.