Acquiring the Nest Learning Thermostat was Google’s big step into home automation

As first reported on Monday, Apple is said to be preparing a home automation system for debut at WWDC next week. While this was the first anyone had heard of any such plans, several different sources have quickly come together to give an idea of how an “Apple Smart Home” will likely function.

On Monday, as noted above, the Financial Times first reported that Apple’s new program would not consist of a group of first-party automated appliances or other devices connected to an iPhone. Instead, the program will work similarly to Apple’s existing “Made for iPhone” program. Essentially the only role Apple will play is to grant special branding to compliant devices.

Today, that report was corroborated by Gigaom, whose sources confirmed that Apple won’t actually be making any devices or providing a first-party software layer within iOS for controlling them, but rather just slapping a logo on the box of devices that work with the iPhone and meet certain requirements.

So the idea here is not so much an “Apple Smart Home,” but a smart home built from components by a variety of partners, all connected to your Apple device. It’s quite a different approach to the issue of automation than Google has taken with its recent acquisition of the Nest learning thermostat, but perhaps Apple will someday provide more first-party functionality baked into iOS.

The program is a first step for Apple into a new market. Much like “Siri Eyes Free” in iOS 6 served as the precursor to iOS 7.1’s CarPlay, this new certification program could be seen as a precursor to Apple’s real entry into the home automation market.