Long-time rivals Apple, Google and Amazon have announced they will collaborate more closely in an effort to make smart home tech easier to use.
The tech giants, together with the Zigbee Alliance and Ikea, will come together to ensure smart home products are compatible with a wide variety of different smartphones and voice assistants.
Some analysts have expressed surprise at this move, which shows the companies are willing to “play nicely”.
Dominance over smart home tech has led to fierce competition in recent years with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant generally considered to have secured the largest share of the market. Manufacturers have often had to choose between rival technologies when engineering device compatibility – for example, a smart speaker that “works with Alexa” but not Siri.
It is frequently the consumer that loses out. For instance, Hive does not yet have Apple HomeKit integration, which leaves Siri users unable to connect with its range of smart home products. Likewise, the Chamberlain MyQ system for garage door openers can be operated via voice with Google Assistant – but not Amazon’s Alexa.
If this new partnership goes to plan, manufacturers and consumers will no longer need to choose one voice assistant over another.
On their project website, the companies state: “Customers can be confident that their device of choice will work in their home and that they will be able to set up and control it with their preferred system.”
Crucially, the firms say that current smart home products should continue working after the release of this new standard. But that will not be imminent. Draft specifications are expected in late 2020 at the earliest.
This announcement came on the eve of CES – the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show, which is held every year in Las Vegas in early January. So no doubt, more details will follow very soon.