If you don’t know why Matter is so important to smart homes, we’ve got a primer for you below, but let’s keep it as succinct as possible: simplicity. It’s a universal protocol that allows accessories to work on any smart home platform, eventually putting an end (in many cases at least) to the question of whether something is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, or Samsung SmartThings.
Since it was announced, there have been doubts about how widespread adoption of the material will be, and whether it will roll out smoothly. or at all. There have already been some delays – work was originally supposed to start in 2020, and then in the middle of 2022. The good news is that based on recent developments, it is likely to meet the current fall 2022 target and become a reality in the smart home industry. .
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The linear barriers are coming down
The Thread group recently announced the release of Thread 1.3.0, the first version of technology to enable planned Matter support. what is the subject? Again, there’s more to Matter’s explanation above, but it’s essentially a Zigbee-based wireless protocol that allows smart home accessories to form their own mesh network. Each Thread product operates as a low-power “border router”, which means less reliance on hubs or Wi-Fi. By extension, thread devices tend to respond faster.
In theory, there’s no reason why you can’t hook up your Nanoleaf, Amazon Echo, and Nest Hub Max bulbs on the same Thread network.
Thread is intended to be the main infrastructure for Matter, although the latter can technically work over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. This makes thread 1.3.0 a milestone. It’ll take a while for most devices to get the update, but in theory, there’s no reason you can’t hook your Nanoleaf, Amazon Echo, and Nest Hub Max bulbs on the same Thread network in the near future.
Meanwhile, general industry support for Thread is gaining momentum. It’s already on products like Apple’s Nanoleaf boards, Eero routers, and HomePod mini, and both Amazon and Google have pledged to bring it to today’s smart speakers and displays. These products are core to many smart homes, making it a low-risk decision for other sellers to join in.
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It doesn’t look like Apple is going too far
Roger Vengas / Android Authority
Apple is one of the founders of Matter along with giants like (but not limited to) Amazon, Google, and Samsung. Despite this, and its support for Thread in the HomePod mini and Apple TV 4K, there was concern that Apple might put up artificial barriers that defeat the standard purpose. The company is notoriously resistant to others playing in its walled garden, both because it could divert sales or threaten the security of platforms like HomeKit.
Those barriers still pose a threat, and I’m betting the Amazon Echo has more than basic functionality through the Apple Home app. However, there are signs that Apple is taking its commitment to Matter seriously, which is critical if the standard is to succeed.
For example, Apple made it a point to highlight Matter during the WWDC 2022 keynote in June, and promised to provide support this fall. The company rarely spends much time talking about smart home technology during press events, so specifically calling Matter – with a short-lived release date no less than that – is a message to both the public and developers.
at recent days Apple said It would “introduce a new architecture for a more efficient and reliable experience” in the iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 versions of the Apple Home app. Although unconfirmed, this sounds a lot like Matter, which would presumably require new code to accommodate both the protocol and the types of added hardware it should allow. HomeKit has long suffered from blind spots, for example not offering any support for robot vacuums – something Alexa and Google Assistant have dealt with for years.
Matter’s call-up specifically at WWDC highlights its importance to both the public and developers.
Apple may see this as an opportunity to catch up in the smart home race. HomeKit has a lot of fans, however its market share and seller support has lagged behind Amazon and Google, as it has been hurt by factors such as HomeKit security requirements. With a more equal playing field, Apple’s influence in the phone and tablet industries may finally emerge.
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The material release date coincides with other release windows
Media coverage often misses the fact that Amazon, Apple, and Google deserve (if not behind) new speakers and smart displays. Amazon’s last big announcement was in September 2020, and with the exception of the second generation Nest Hub, Google is in a similar place. It is not normal for the lineup of either company to be so static. Apple’s smart home lineup has shrunk to just the Apple TV and HomePod mini, as the original HomePod was canceled in March 2021 after poor sales. The company is rumored to be working on at least one new HomePod model.
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While supply chain issues have undoubtedly affected the situation, it seems likely that companies have also been refueling for Matter and Thread updates. We might even have seen Matter products in 2021 had the benchmark been ready on time.
Amazon, Google, and Apple are set to update their speakers and displays soon. Just in time to coincide with Matter’s launch in the fall.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that tech companies like to synchronize new software with new hardware launches if there’s a chance the two will sync, and they prefer shipping devices in the fall to exploit holiday sales. Matter’s fall 2022 goal is probably no coincidence then, given its backers, and no company would want to give up on the competition by postponing a major compatibility feature.
Could the material be derailed?
It cannot be ruled out. Building a standard that everyone can agree on is a challenge in any industry, and the material has already been suspended twice. All it takes is a major proponent who decides that current specifications interfere with their plans – eg, as hypothetical examples, because they restrict options or take too much power over battery-powered accessories.
If I were setting up a smart home now, I would avoid buying anything that doesn’t support Thread and/or pledge to update Matter.
For all the reasons we’ve mentioned, the pressure seems to be going on to get Matter out the door, and ads have lined up where the protocol should be close to the app. If I were setting up a smart home now, I would avoid buying anything that doesn’t support Thread and/or pledge to update Matter. Less than two years from now, the lack of these things could seriously date your setup.
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