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What Is Matter? The New Smart Home Standard, Explained

A new 'industry-unifying' standard from Amazon, Apple, Google, and others, Matter aims to make it easier for your smart home devices to connect with each other. But will it work?

By Angela Moscaritolo

My Experience

I'm PCMag's expert on fitness and smart home technology, and I've written more than 6,000 articles and reviews in the 10-plus years I've been here. I unbox, set up, test, and review a wide range of consumer tech products from my home in Florida, often with the help of my pitbull Bradley. I'm also a yoga instructor, and have been actively teaching group and private classes for nearly a decade. 

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(Credit: iStock, onurdongel/Getty Images Plus)

As you shop for smart home devices this holiday season and beyond, you might notice the new Matter logo on product boxes across various brands. But what is Matter, and why does it matter? Let's break it down.

Matter is a new global, open-source standard that aims to simplify the smart home ecosystem by allowing internet-connected devices from different manufacturers to simply and securely communicate. This represents an important collaboration between competing companies working towards a common goal: to advance the smart home and make it more consumer-friendly. Until now, Matter has been a buzzword and nebulous vendor promises, but we're finally starting to see some real movement.  

Version 1.0 of the Matter smart home standard and certification program officially launched in October. In the month since its release, 190 hardware and software products have received certification (or are in the process of being verified) according to(Opens in a new window) the Connectivity Standard Alliance (CSA), the nonprofit that oversees the standard. That includes door locks, gateways, lighting, motion blinds, occupancy sensors, smart plugs, weather devices, platform components, and software applications. 

"This industry-unifying standard has a promise of reliable, secure connectivity—a seal of approval that devices will work seamlessly together, today, and tomorrow," the CSA says. 

Smart home devices are supposed to make your life easier and more convenient, but installing a bunch of disparate internet-connected devices that don't work together might complicate it instead. That's where Matter comes in. 

Based on the internet protocol (IP), Matter is designed to help manufacturers more easily build devices that are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and other smart home and voice services, the CSA says. The idea is to break down walled gardens in the smart home, and foster interoperability among devices, regardless of brand, so you can seamlessly control them via your platform of choice. 

"Matter changes the game—by making devices easier to set up, in the same way, every time, and work with other smart products in the home," the CSA explains. Matter-certified gadgets "can be controlled by whichever app, voice assistant, or device is the most convenient." 

Who Is Behind Matter?

Matter was born from a working group called Project Connected Home Over IP (Project Chip), which Amazon, Apple, Google, and other major players in the smart home space launched in collaboration with the Zigbee Alliance at the end of 2019.

In a 2019 blog post(Opens in a new window) announcing the project, Google said the goal of Project Chip was to "build a new standard that enables IP-based communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services." 

In May 2021, the Zigbee Alliance changed its name to the Connectivity Standards Alliance and rebranded Project Chip to Matter. 

By January 2022, more than 200 companies were involved in the development of Matter. At the time, the CSA said "thousands" of engineers at participating companies were creating the specification and certification.

Matter Logo
(Credit: Matter)

What Is the Status of Matter?

Following the October launch of Matter 1.0, "the transition from standards development to standards adoption" is underway, according to the CSA. 

The initial release relies on existing technologies, including Bluetooth Low Energy and numeric/QR codes for device setup, and Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and the Thread(Opens in a new window) networking protocol to connect gadgets. Version 1.0 supports the following smart home product categories: bridges, controllers, door locks, HVAC controls, lighting and electrical, media devices, safety and security sensors, and window coverings and shades. 

Support for home appliances, robot vacuums, electric vehicle charging, and energy management devices is expected in the future. The CSA says teams have also formed to explore bringing Matter support to closures for doors and gates, environmental quality sensors and controls, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and ambient motion and presence sensing devices. 

Companies involved say it's taken a tremendous amount of effort to get to this point. The first Matter-certified hardware products were originally expected to launch in 2021, but that target was pushed back twice. Explaining the delay in March(Opens in a new window), the CSA said it needed more time to "further improve code quality and stability and accommodate the breadth of Matter devices and platforms." 

Prior to the launch of Matter, the Alliance conducted nine test events and a final Specification Validation Event (SVE) with around 40 companies that it says can now proceed with certification applications, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, and Signify (Philips Hue and WiZ). The CSA says there are now eight authorized test labs around the world for companies looking to get their products certified. 

Since its release, the Matter software development kit (SDK) has garnered 2,500 downloads via GitHub. The standard promises to help developers more easily bring smart home products to market. 

"Matter lets developers build literally, once, and for all," the CSA says. "It’s a common language for today’s smart devices that lets them talk to each other, enabling simple, yet powerful experiences for consumers." 

How Amazon, Google, and Apple Are Supporting Matter

Amazon says it will bring Matter support to "well over 100 million devices" across 30 Echo and eero products, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Studio, and Echo Show. This means you'll be able to set up and control Matter devices from Echo smart speakers and displays. But don't get too excited just yet, because the rollout will take several months. 

Amazon plans to start delivering Matter over Wi-Fi in December, with support for 17 Echo devices, plugs, switches, and bulbs, but only on Android setups. Broad availability, with support for iOS, Thread, and additional device types is expected "early next year." 

"This is an effort unprecedented in scale and complexity and we are excited about making our homes smarter and easier to use," Amazon's Director of Smart Home & Health Marja Koopmans wrote in a blog post(Opens in a new window)

Google in October debuted a new Home app on Android and iOS with Fast Pair for Matter, which promises to simplify the smart home device setup process. 

"Setting up a smart light bulb can feel like it requires an engineering degree," Google Home & Nest Product Management Director Anish Kattukaran wrote in a blog post(Opens in a new window). "With Fast Pair for Matter, this will literally become plug and play. Your Android phone will automatically detect a Matter device and help you securely set it up quickly." 

The new Home app is only available in Public Preview at this point; to request an invite, open the app, tap Settings > Public Preview > Request Invite. Google says that Matter setup and app linking "will be available by default on billions of Android devices" later this year. The web giant has also promised to update its existing Nest smart speakers, smart displays, and routers to control Matter devices. 

That includes Thread-certified Nest devices, such as the Nest Wi-Fi router, the Nest Hub Max, and the second-generation Nest Hub, which will serve as "connection points" for Matter gadgets, Google Smart Home Senior Director Michele Turner wrote in a blog post(Opens in a new window) last year. The Nest Mini and the latest Nest Thermostat will also gain Matter support. 

Apple brought Matter support to iPhones as part of iOS 16.1 in late October. To view and manage the Matter accessories currently paired with your iPhone or iPad, navigate to Settings > General > Matter Accessories. Here, you can see all your Matter-compatible devices in one place, regardless of which app you initially used to set them up, as well as factory reset your gadgets, and delete pairings. 

Note: you must have at least one Matter accessory paired with your device to see this new menu. In other words, if you already use a bunch of smart home devices, you won't see this menu in the iOS Settings app until they gain Matter support, or you set up a new Matter-compatible gadget. 

"If a user sets up smart lights using one app, then sets up a smart lock using another, they’ll be able to see both of those distinct accessories together in the iOS Settings app and have full control of which accessories have joined their home network," Apple says. "When the user opens the smart lock app, they can also be presented with the option to add the lights that were previously set up in a different app, enabling users to connect both accessories together to create powerful scenes and automations so, for example, the lights turn on when you unlock the front door in the evening."

Other Matter-Supported Devices

Most smart home brands have promised support for Matter. The list includes Amazon, Apple, Aqara (Lumi), Arlo Technologies, Belkin Wemo, Comcast, Eve Systems, Ikea, GE Lighting, Google, Infineon, Leedarson, LG Electronics, Mui Lab, Nanoleaf, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Philips Hue, Qorvo, Samsung SmartThings, Schlage (Allegion), Sengled, Texas Instruments, Tuya Smart, Universal Electronics, and Veea.

Samsung has also been active in bringing Matter to life. In October, the company launched(Opens in a new window) Matter functionality via its SmartThings hubs and Android app. "Through this update, SmartThings users can control their Matter devices from a single application, instead of using multiple apps from different device manufacturers," Samsung said. 

The update comes after Samsung SmartThings in May launched an early access program to start testing products from other brands with its Matter-compatible SmartThings hub and mobile software. In the announcement, Samsung named the following companies as partners: Aeotec, Aqara, Eve Systems, Leedarson, Nanoleaf, Netatmo, Sengled, Wemo, WiZ, and Yale. 

Philips Hue this month announced that its Hue Bridge, a smart lighting hub, is Matter certified. The company has promised(Opens in a new window) to make all but two of its new and existing smart lights and accessories compatible with Matter via a software update to the Hue Bridge in the first quarter of 2023. The two exceptions are the Hue Play HDMI sync box and the dial of the Hue Tap Dial Switch, both of which are not supported by the current version of Matter.

Existing Google and Amazon integrations in the Philips Hue app will continue to work as-is, but Apple HomeKit users will need to reset and connect again via Matter, the smart lighting company says.

Philips Hue's parent company Signify said it has "actively participated in demos and periodically tested Matter interoperability of Philips Hue products with smart home partners, ensuring current and future Philips Hue users will have a superior and seamless connected experience."

Yale Home plans to make some of its existing smart door locks backward compatible with Matter. Yale already offers Z-Wave, Zigbee, iM1 (HomeKit), and Wi-Fi Modules(Opens in a new window), which are interchangeable inside compatible locks depending on your desired connectivity platform. Later this year, Yale plans to launch a Matter Smart Module (sold separately for $79.99) to power locks with Matter connectivity. The Matter Smart Module will work with Yale’s original Assure Lock and the Assure Lock 2. 

Will Current Smart Home Products Support Matter?

As mentioned above, many existing smart home devices will gain Matter support via software updates—with the caveat that they need to have the right hardware in order to do so.

Smart home devices in a room
(Credit: Eoneren/Getty)

Matter support will vary by vendor and device, and not all devices will be capable of receiving the update. According to the independent Matter-Smarthome(Opens in a new window) resource, "Among other things, there must be enough flash memory and processing power on the device to perform the update."

There isn't a definitive directory of which existing smart home devices will support Matter, so we can't just give you a simple list of products here. Instead, you'll likely receive an email or other notification from the manufacturer or any products you own if and when a Matter update is available.

One Standard to Connect Them All?

Once upon a time, smart home hubs were meant to be one-stop solutions for unifying your connected gadgets and controlling them from a single app. That didn't quite work out as planned, as competing hubs adopted different connectivity protocols.

Hopefully, Matter will get things right where hubs went wrong, though only time will tell. We review hundreds of smart home devices at PCMag each year, so we'll be putting Matter-certified products to the test as soon as they start arriving on store shelves. We'll update this story once we've had some firsthand experience, so make sure to check back soon.

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About Angela Moscaritolo

Senior Analyst, Fitness and Smart Home

I'm PCMag's expert on fitness and smart home technology, and I've written more than 6,000 articles and reviews in the 10-plus years I've been here. I unbox, set up, test, and review a wide range of consumer tech products from my home in Florida, often with the help of my pitbull Bradley. I'm also a yoga instructor, and have been actively teaching group and private classes for nearly a decade. 

Before becoming an analyst in 2020, I spent eight years as a reporter covering consumer tech news. Prior to joining PCMag, I was a reporter for SC Magazine, focusing on hackers and computer security. I earned a BS in journalism from West Virginia University, and started my career writing for newspapers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

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