We’ve covered a wide variety of smart home apps and technologies over the past few years, but most of them had one big shortcoming: They only worked with one brand's appliances.
While other major manufacturers pushed ahead with proprietary systems, Bosch's parent company, BSH, vowed for years that it wouldn't produce smart appliances until there was a unified standard for the tech.
Since such a standard has failed to materialize, it looks like BSH has taken the task upon itself. Its new Home Connect app (née Connectivity App) is officially being launched in Europe this year. In terms of usability, Home Connect doesn’t differ a whole lot from what we’ve seen from Samsung, LG, Whirlpool, and all the other major players. What sets this app apart is that it will let you mix and match different appliance brands to create the kitchen of your dreams.
At least, in theory. The biggest risk for BSH, of course, is that rivals will decide to compete with Home Connect instead of jumping onboard. Details aren't exactly crystal clear at the moment, but it seems likely other companies will need to incorporate BSH's software platform into their own appliances in order to allow them to work with the Home Connect app. And at the time of announcement, BSH wasn't ready to reveal any partners.
Still, project manager Dr. Claudia Häpp offered up an intriguing statistic while introducing Home Connect at the IFA 2014 Global Press Conference in Belek, Turkey: 90% of households have appliances from different manufacturers, but 66% would prefer to control them all from a single app. With that kind of consumer sentiment, not jumping on the bandwagon could pose a significant risk. Consumers love options, and restrictive technology often gets left in the dust.
At last year's IFA show, Dr. Häpp showed off prototypes of refrigerators that recommend recipes based on what’s inside, ovens that can start preheating during your evening commute, and much more. The potential for this technology is huge, provided BSH can get other manufacturers on board.
For its part, the company will reveal the initial Bosch and Siemens Home Connect-ready appliances at this year's IFA in September, along with the iOS version of the app. An Android app is set to follow in early 2015.