The new products could be an important step forward for the emerging industry of “smart” or “connected” homes, where appliances, thermostats and even door locks contain computer chips that communicate wirelessly. While a number of companies are working on similar products, analysts say Apple could persuade more consumers to try them by making it easy to control different products from a familiar device, such as the iPhone.

Apple announced its “HomeKit” software project a year ago, but isn’t making the new products. Instead, other companies have been working to make devices that meet Apple’s criteria for compatibility and security. Two manufacturers are now selling products and three more are accepting online “pre-orders” or plan to begin selling in coming weeks.

Apple also says products using HomeKit software must meet standards for compatibility, so they work with HomeKit products made by other manufacturers, and for encryption, which keeps hackers from taking over a system or stealing user information.

While Apple wants Siri to play a leading role in “smart” homes, its biggest rivals want in, too. Google announced last week that it’s creating software called Brillo as a common platform for Internet-connected gadgets in the home or in commercial settings. Microsoft and Samsung are also promoting software to control home systems.