Remember Matter? The smart home standard that was supposed to unify all gadgets in the connected home? It’s been updated with support for a bevy of connected devices, mainly home appliances. The update should help more third-party accessories work together in Google, Apple, and Amazon-led smart homes, provided everything is already Matter-compatible.
Matter 1.2 supports nine new device types. They include refrigerators, air conditioners, robot vacuums, air quality sensors, and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. The updated spec lets you tap into the basic actions of these appliances, allowing you to finally remote start the laundry, for instance, or run the robot vacuum as soon as it detects the air is dusty.
This version of the updated spec is the second of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) promise of bi-annual updates. The CSA hopes the open-source nature of the SDK will inspire manufacturers to improve upon the tools already offered. The CSA reminds us that its spec is “market-driven,” meaning it relies on the companies and makers of smart home gadgets and controllers to propagate the standard.
Frankly, I haven’t updated my smart home to Matter yet. I played around with the Samsung SmartThings Station for a few months, but all that did was add an extra step to what I already consider a streamlined smart home. Nothing in my home is actually Matter compatible. I took devices off my network to simplify my processes and make upkeep less of a headache. I’m still running the basics; I have smart lights and a smart thermostat, but I hardly rely on routines besides the lights turning automatically at sunset or the heater turning on below a specific temperature.
I feel vindicated by this choice after realizing the smart home has stagnated. In January, during CES 2023, it seemed the rest of the year would be overtaken by devices upgraded with compatibility for the new Matter spec. Instead, it’s been a slow rollout, and I haven’t felt the need to update my devices since everything still works.
A few months ago, Stacy Higginbotham theorized a case for why Matter’s been slow to ascend before closing shop on the Internet of Things Podcast. Higginbotham stated from the get-go that it isn’t the spec struggling to take off but the vendors failing to promote it. They’re also not up to date on their updates. “Many vendors have rolled out support for Matter in an uneven manner,” Higginbotham wrote at the time. And they might continue to do so.
We don’t know if Google, Amazon, Apple, or even Samsung with SmartThings will add support for what Matter 1.2 offers in its SDK. Based on the various companies’ tepid responses to The Verge when asked, it seems there’s no rush to make Matter matter.
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