5 Things You Need to Know about Matter, the New Smart Home Standard
A common language for smart home devices to communicate, Matter aims to simplify everything about the smart home, from purchase, to set up, to everyday use. Its biggest promise is that it will enable smart devices to work with each other, across platforms and ecosystems, no matter who made them.
But Matter hasn’t yet arrived — it’s now expected to launch in mid-2022 — making it hard to determine how it will work in your home and what it will allow you to do that isn’t easy or even possible today.
Which platforms will work with Matter?
The four big smart home platforms, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings, have all committed to supporting Matter, which means you will be able to use their apps, smart speakers / displays, and smart voice assistants as Matter controllers to managed your connected devices.
Bear in mind, though, these won’t be the only players that can run your smart home with Matter, and as more information emerges around how other ecosystems will support Matter we’ll add that here.
With Matter, you can use multiple platforms at the same time because of a feature called Multi-Admin control. As long as devices and platforms are Matter-enabled, you can connect them to as many platforms as you want. So, yes, you will be able to control the new Nest Thermostat with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistants, even both at the same time if you like.
But you will still need to use a smart home platform; Matter is not an automation tool, it’s a connectivity standard. While Matter will have some basic controls built in, it isn’t capable of creating automations, such as setting your thermostat to turn down, your lights to turn off, and the door to lock when you leave home — you’ll still need an app for that type of automation setup. However, with Matter, those automations will run across devices from different companies.
Which products will work with Matter, and when can I buy them?
While you can buy Thread products today from Eve, Nanoleaf, Eero, WeMo, and Nest — and there are plenty of Wi-Fi-enabled smart home devices out there — Matter products don’t exist yet. They won’t until the standard is finalized next year.
However, many companies have committed to supporting Matter in existing and forthcoming products. When they do, you will know if a product you’re considering buying is Matter compatible if it has the Matter logo
Matter 1.0, the first Matter spec, includes these connected device categories:
* Lightbulbs, light switches, lighting controllers
* Plugs and outlets
* Door locks
* Thermostats and other HVAC controllers (mini-splits etc.)
* Blinds and shades
* Home security sensors (motion, contact, CO / smoke detectors)
* Garage door controllers
* Wireless Access Point and bridges
Work has already begun on Matter 1.1, Matter 2.0, and beyond. Robot vacuums, home appliances, EV charging, and smart energy management are all likely to be in Matter 1.1
Which products won’t work with Matter?
While the list of devices Matter will support initially is impressive, the big question is what about smart security cameras? Easily one of the most popular devices in the smart home, a smart home standard without security cameras feels incomplete. “Cameras are probably 2.0,”— all the companies have said they want to do cameras. But we need a quorum of people that are willing to start working on it today, and the ones that would be are currently focused on 1.0.”
Will I need to replace my existing smart devices to use Matter?
From the beginning, Matter has been designed to include those connected devices already in our homes. “The idea that everyone has to throw everything out and start again is just not going to work.”
Newer Wi-Fi or Thread devices and those that work over Z-Wave and Zigbee should be upgradable to Matter. This can happen in two ways: upgrading the device directly over the air or a software upgrade for a product’s existing bridge.
Should I wait for Matter to buy new smart home products?
This promise of future upgradability means you don’t need to wait for Matter to buy new devices, says Mindala-Freeman. “You should, with confidence, continue to develop your own smart home and smart environment,” they claim. But, as anyone who has bought a smart device knows, the promise of future software updates is not one to bet your house against.
Still, the message from the industry is don’t stop buying devices altogether. Our advice is to consider products with Thread radios in them first, then Wi-Fi, as both of these have a clear upgrade path. If that doesn’t suit your immediate needs, look for products with hubs or bridges that contain either protocol. Beyond that, research the company you’re considering buying from to see if it has made any commitment to Matter — but proceed with caution.