File photo

London - There was a time when mobile phones were just for making calls.

But smartphones could soon be used to control all the electrical devices in your home – from afar.

Apple is said to be preparing to transform its iPhone into a remote control that can switch on your washing machine, programme your central heating and set the TV to record your favourite shows.

The home automation software, expected to be unveiled next week, may allow an iPhone or iPad to sense when you are on your way home. This could trigger it to wirelessly switch on lights, turn off the burglar alarm and set the oven to cook dinner.

The system will be launched at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco on June 2, according to the Financial Times.

An Apple patent published in November last year hinted at the extent of the company’s ambition, revealing a system that automatically turned on lights when a user comes home.

Home automation is viewed by industry analysts as the next major area of development for technology firms and Apple’s rivals Google, Samsung and LG have already started to explore the potential of using phones as remote controls.

In January, Google invested £1.9-billion buying Nest Labs, a firm which makes internet-connected thermostats and smoke alarms. Samsung is working on a range of refrigerators, washing machines and TVs called ‘Smart Home’, which can be controlled from its smartphones and watches.

An Apple spokesman refused to confirm the home systems launch, adding: “We don’t comment on rumours or speculation.” - Daily Mail