Apple is now selling a competitor to the Nest smart thermostat in its retail stores.

Smartphone device maker ecobee has acquired some pretty sought after Apple retail space. The ecobee3 is set to join Nest on the minimalist shelves of Apple Retail stores.

Nest is a touch-screen thermostat that’s meant to be either fixed to a wall or placed on a table or desk with a stand. It uses sensors placed around the house to constantly measure the temperature of the home, and heat the house according to preferences given by the user.

Both the Ecobee3 and Nest thermostat feature iOS support, and both are priced at $249.95. Both feature automatic scheduling based on central heating habits, and both start to save energy automatically when no one is in the house.

So how are they different? The Ecobee3 can be powered by wire, to save replacing the batteries, but other than that the differences appear minimal. Some will argue that the amount of sensors vary, and that they differ on their advanced features – but these aren’t things that an entry level smart-thermostat user is going to worry about. The important thing to note, is that following its acquisition by Google last year, Apple was previously only selling a competitor’s product on its shelves.

Smart thermostats are designed to give frequent, shorter bursts of heating, rather than leaving large gaps in the cycle. This means the home is heated more efficiently and pipes are less like to get damaged in winter. These can be controlled remotely, either over WiFi or when away from home using an iPhone or cellular-enabled iPad.

Fancy automating your home like this? Get started with our guide to home automation.