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Amazon and Philips Hue reveal Matter plans

Today marks the official launch day of the new Matter smart home standard, a cross-platform collaboration between companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and more. A number of companies are officially jumping on board with new accessories today, including Amazon and Philips Hue. There are, however, some caveats with these announcements…

Background

There are over 280 companies which are members of the Matter group, including the big names like Apple, Amazon, and Google. The Matter standard, (originally branded as CHiP), was first announced in 2019 with a target release date of 2020. The launch date was subsequently pushed back to 2021, and later to mid-2022, and is now finally launching.

The idea is that Matter will be a major boon to smart home adoption and popularity. It works by giving accessories cross-platform capabilities without nearly as much overhead as before. For instance, this means that if a device is Matter-compatible, then it is effectively HomeKit-compatible, too.

Amazon brings Matter to Alexa accessories

With today’s official launch of Matter, Amazon has announced that it is bringing Matter support to an impressive 17 of its Echo devices starting in December. Unfortunately, this initial rollout of Matter for Amazon will be pretty limited:

  • There is only support for Matter via WiFi, not Thread
  • Only compatible with Android devices
  • Only supported accessory types: smart plugs, smart bulbs, and smart switches

According to The Verge, Amazon plans to expand the rollout to iOS and Thread early next year alongside support for additional accessory categories as well.

“We’re bringing Matter support to well over 100 million devices across 30 Echo and Eero devices,” Chris DeCenzo, a senior principal engineer at Amazon and the company’s CSA board director, explained in an interview with The Verge. “This is an effort unprecedented in scale and complexity. It’s a big deal, and we need to make sure it goes smoothly.”

Additionally, the delay of an iOS Matter-compatible Alexa app is due to “Apple requiring apps to use new APIs that only just became available,” says DeCenzo. He says they want to take the time to test the integration before releasing it.

The full list of Amazon devices adding Matter support is: Echo Dot (fifth-gen), Echo Dot (fifth-gen) with Clock, Echo (fourth-gen), Echo Dot (third-gen, 2018 release), Echo Studio, Echo Show 8 (second-gen, 2021 release), Echo Show 10 (third-gen), Echo Show 5 (second-gen, 2021 release), Echo Dot (third-gen) with Clock, Echo Dot (fourth-gen) with Clock, Echo Show 5, Echo (v3), Echo Dot (fourth-gen), Echo Input, Echo Flex, Echo Plus (v2), Echo Show 8. 

These devices will be able to serve as “Matter controllers,” meaning that you can add any Matter-compatible accessory to the Amazon app for control via Alexa.

Philips Hue adopts Matter

Meanwhile, The Verge also reports that the Philips Hue Bridge is now Matter certified. According to Signify, the beta firmware can be downloaded starting today and a free software update will be rolled out by March 2023.

Signify says that the Hue Bridge update will preserve previous settings and personalizations in the Philips Hue App, as well as Google and Amazon integrations. But Apple HomeKit users will need to reset to connect again via Matter.

Signify will be leaning heavily on its bridge for years to come in order to help Hue device owners extract maximum value from their existing smart home setups. Even though Matter promises a future without such proprietary hubs, the reality for many smart home owners is that they’ll continue to be needed for a long, long time.

With today’s official launch of Matter, it’s clear that many companies are fulfilling their promises of adopting the feature. At the same time, however, it’s clear that the Matter standard is still in the early days and there are limitations and tradeoffs while the technology continues to mature.

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