Matter is a smart home connectivity standard that promises to drastically simplify the smart home experience. Instead of having to worry about if a smart light, smart plug or smart camera is compatible with Apple's HomeKit, Amazon's Alexa, Samsung's SmartThings or Google Home — you'll just have to know if it's compatible with Matter. Essentially, it's the one smart ecosystem to unite them all.
If you have yet to hear about Matter, don't worry — it was just officially launched in the fall of 2022. The good news is it's backed by all the major smart home ecosystems (such as Apple, Amazon and Google), as well as basically every smart home device maker (like Philips Hue, Logitech, Eve, Eufy, Nanoleaf and others). So there are going to be a lot of smart devices that work with Matter in the very near future.
As of February 2023, all the major smart home ecosystems support and are integrated with Matter. The problem is the amount of smart home gadgets that support Matter — there aren't that many. However, that's poised to change rather quickly over the course of the next few months and definitely before the end of 2023.
How does Matter work?
Matter isn't like most other smart home connectivity standards because it's way more versatile. It's able to connect and communicate with smart home devices over Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth LE as well as Thread, a low-power mesh networking standard (similar to Zigbee or Z-Wave).
Matter will connect to less demanding smart home devices like smart plugs and smart lights over Thread (or whatever other low-bandwidth standard that device uses) and to more demanding devices like smart TVs and smart home cameras over faster standards like Wi-Fi. It will then connect and allow them all to communicate with each other. That's the premise anyway.
How will this change my smart home experience?
Matter will not drastically change the smart home experience in terms of how you add or control smart home gadgets. If you have an Apple smart home, you'll still use the Home app. If you have an Amazon smart home, you'll still use the Alexa app. If you have a Google smart home, you'll still use the Google Home app. And if you have a Samsung smart home, you'll still use the SmartThings app.
The difference is that Matter will open the door to smart home gadgets from other ecosystems that you previously weren't able to use. For example, if you have a smart home built around HomeKit and have always wanted to use a video doorbell that had previously only worked with Amazon or Google's smart homes, like the Nest Doorbell, you will be able to use it — as they both work with Matter.
There will be some limitations to this cross-platform connectivity, however, especially at the start. Since Matter is really only in its beginning phases, some advanced features and customizations (like automations and scenes) of some gadgets might not work with cross-platform gadgets right now.
For example, if you have a smart light that only works with Google Home or Alexa and you have HomeKit, you might not be able to get that smart light to automate that light so it changes colors at certain hours of the day. Or if you have a smart camera from Nest, it might not support facial tracking or activity zones with HomeKit. These features should be supported over time, but maybe not just at the start.
How do I get started with a Matter smart home?
The chances are that you are already well on your way to a Matter smart home. That's because the first thing you need is something called a Matter Controller — which is really a smart hub or bridge that supports Matter — and you already likely have one.
Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung have all rolled out software updates to pretty much all of their smart speakers, smart displays and smart home hubs so that they can function as Matter Controllers right now. In order to get them to work properly, you'll also have to have the latest software update downloaded to your iPhone or Android smartphone, both of which support Matter now too.
What smart home gadgets work with Matter now?
There aren't that many smart home gadgets that support Matter just yet, but that's about to change. At CES 2023 earlier this year, a lot of smart home manufacturers announced that they would be releasing new gadgets that support Matter — or rolling out Matter support via a software update to their existing gadgets — starting in the spring of 2023. But as of right now, there are basically no smart home gadgets that support Matter. That includes smart plugs, smart lights, smart thermostats, smart locks and smart cameras.
If you're wondering if your current smart home gadgets — like smart plugs, smart lights, smart cameras, etc. — can and will be able to support Matter, the answer isn't super clear. It's anticipated that some smart home gadgets will be able to gain Matter support over a Wi-Fi update, but it's not guaranteed. The newer the smart home gadget, the better chance it has of gaining a software update for Matter. But it really is on a case-by-case basis.
If you're interested in learning more about the various smart home devices that will support Matter, via a future software update or because they are upcoming products, you can check them out, here.
As for the smart home devices that currently support Matter — pretty much all of them are Matter Controllers — we've listed our favorites below.