Apple-backed home-automation standard Matter finally launches

Apple-backed home-automation standard Matter finally launches

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Matter is a new interoperable homer automation standard back by Apple, Amazon, Google and m ore.
Matter is going to… matter to fans of home automation.
Photo: Connectivity Standards Alliance

The wait is over for Matter 1.0. The Connectivity Standards Alliance, which includes Apple, Amazon and many more, has introduced the cross-platform home-automation standard after lengthy delays.

It is intended to break through the walled silos of Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Home, allowing accessories from a wide range of companies to communicate. It might finally make smart homes more common … potentially even mainstream.

Why Matter matters

HomeKit is a very capable home automation system. So are Alexa and Google Home. But they all have a significant flaw: an accessory using one can’t talk to products that use the others. Someone with a house filled with HomeKit accessories can’t add one designed for Alexa. The result was fewer options for consumers.

Apple, Amazon and other companies that develop the underlying systems accepted that this was a problem and came up with Matter 1.0 as a solution.

“What started as a mission to unravel the complexities of connectivity has resulted in Matter, a single, global IP-based protocol that will fundamentally change the IoT,” said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance. Matter enables home-automation products from a range of brands and platforms to interoperate.

The CSA includes the heavy hitters needed to accomplish its goal, including Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, Signify and SmartThings. There are 280 companies in the trade group.

Apple is building support for Matter into iOS 16, and it might appear as soon as version 16.1 later this month.

Inovelli Smart 2-1 Switch
Thanks to Matter 1.0, the Inovelli Smart 2-1 Switch can be used with HomeKit or its rival systems.
Photo: Inovelli

Companies like Belkin and Aqara have already unveiled products that will support Matter, or committed themselves to doing so. Once they’re available, users will be able to install a smart wall switch or sprinkler system and have it connect to HomeKit or Alexa or Google Home as they prefer.

In a few years, expect just about all home-automation products to use Matter, which will greatly simplify the process of building a smarthome.

Threading the complexities of home automation

Matter is a way accessories can interoperate, but not an actual networking system. Devices that use it can communicate over Ethernet, Wi-Fi or the low-power mesh-networking standard Thread.

While it’s relatively new, companies have already adopted Thread for their home-automation products even before the debut of Matter 1.0. Don’t confuse the two – a device can use HomeKit over Thread without supporting Matter.

Source: Connectivity Standards Alliance