After a number of delays, finally the Connectivity Standards Alliance has released the Matter 1.0 and opened the certification program to manufacturers. Mean while an official launch event is scheduled for the 3rd November and we should see Matter certified devices to hit the market around that time.
So what does the new Matter standard hope to address and what does it mean for Apple HomeKit users? Lets have a look and my thoughts on what this means for HomeKit.
What is Matter designed to address
Matter is a universal connectivity standard designed to simplify buying, connecting, and using smart home devices for the end user. Matter will hopefully make devices more reliable using Wi-Fi for higher bandwidth applications such as cameras and doorbells. Then for energy-efficient and low bandwidth these will rely on Thread.
The Matter standard uses a common language that’s local to your home and doesn’t rely on the cloud. Meaning more than smart home ecosystem or voice assistant can control your devices. This means you are not tied to one smart home ecosystem with a Matter certified device. So you could start out with Google Home and then if you decided to move to Apple HomeKit, you could do that.
You can also use multiple smart home ecosystems in your home. So if one person prefers AMazon Alexa and another prefers Apple HomeKit. Then you can run both at the same time with Matter certified devices.
Locally controlled, but still cloud compatible
In terms of privacy, Matter operates entirely locally over IP, but it doesn’t rely on an internet connection to run. But it’s still designed to allow devices to talk to cloud services if the manufacturer requires a device to do so.
But because HomeKit is all controlled locally, then you should not need to allow devices to connect to manufacturer cloud services. Unless you need to use specific manufacturer designed features and in this case, you need to decide if you trust that manufactures with your data or not.
Manufacturer backed smart home standard
With over 280 members of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, including Apple, Google, and Amazon. The effort to bring this standard to today must have been huge. However, with that said, the initial Matter 1.0 release is limited. With only a few device categories supported.
- Lightbulbs, light switches, lighting controllers
- Smart Plugs and power sockets
- Door locks
- Thermostats and other HVAC controllers
- Blinds and shades
- Home security sensors
- Garage door controllers
- Wireless Access Point and bridges
- Televisions and streaming video players
However, work has already begun on the next Matter specifications. With Robot vacuums, home appliances, EV charging, and smart energy management are all likely to be part of Matter in the future.
The odd omission right now is cameras and doorbells and currently this is something the CSA said will be addressed in Matter 2.0 and no timeline has been given.
Fewer hubs in Matter
White matter did not setup to address the need to limit multiple hubs in the smart home. The adoption of this standard should mean that smart devices are less dependent on manufacturer hubs. This is because the core connectivity technologies Wi-Fi and Thread rarely need a hub to connect to a smart home platform.
This is more true because the latest Apple TV 4K and the HomePod Mini have Thread radios built in. Plus, now Apple allowed device manufacturers to turn compatible devices into Thread Border Routers. This means in the medium to long term, users should not need device manufacturer hubs for Matter devices.
So for me the long term future is bright when it comes to reducing the number of smart home hubs in the users home.
Manufacturers backed support for Matter
Multiple smart home device manufactures have confirmed they will support matter in the future with Eve Home being all in for the standard. This also means Eve Systems will support other smart home platforms.
The other interesting, smart home device manufactures are below:
- August / Yale the maker of smart locks and cabinets owned by Assa Abloy, has committed to support Matter.
- Aqara will update its M2 and the M1S hubs to Matter and later this year release Thread versions of its motion and contact sensors.
- Nanoleaf is also all in on Matter and will bring support for matter to most of its Thread enabled smart lighting devices. Plus Thread Border Router support to its product lineup for Matter devices.
- Philips Hue plans to bring Matter support via its Hue Bridge rather than individually lighting products
- Schlage has said that it has the hardware on board to support Matter.
So, in short, devices that have the hardware inside should receive support via a firmware update from a manufacturer. Then in the future, new devices will be certified and compatible with the Matter standard right out of the box. Which means when you see the Matter logo then its good to go with the big smart home ecosystems.
Thoughts on Matter 1.0 for HomeKit
In the short term, I don’t think HomeKit users will see much benefit. We already have a platform that is easy to set up, relatively stable and privacy focused. Which is some things that Matter is designed to address. However, if you are a multiple voice assistant house, then you can benefit from being able to control devices in your home using Siri and Alexa at the same time.
For me, it’s the long term that HomeKit users will benefit and this is because we should see more devices being made available for Apple Home users. The reason being is that smart home device makers like Eve, that have been HomeKit exclusive until now. But when they release matter updates to its compatible devices, this will open up its products to Amazon Alexa, Google Home and others. The outcome of this is expanding to a larger customer base. So for a company like Eve this could mean more sales and in return more capital to invest in R&D for future products.
More HomeKit devices and categories
Once Matter devices arrive from other manufactures that have not been previously available to Apple Home users. Then this could mean more devices becoming available for users. Not only more devices, but we could live in hope of lower priced devices.
The other benefit is once Matter expands its supported device category list. This should trickle into the Apple HomeKit framework and more device categories being supported in HomeKit has been high on the list for users for a long time.
So only time will tell the true impact of the new Matter standard for the smart home. But now the standard has arrived. This is a positive first step for smart home users. Don’t forget to subscribe to be first to find out when more HomeKit news emerges. If you have a question or a comment, then leave it below. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.