Should I buy a new smart device now, or wait for Matter to be released?

With all the recent information being unveiled about Matter, the new connectivity protocol, and the announced delay, one might start to wonder whether it's wise to add a few new smart light bulbs, or hold off before purchasing that second smart speaker.

What’s Matter and why does it matter?

Matter is a new smart home, open-source standard that is coming to this world with the promise of letting you combine Amazon’s, Apple’s, Google’s and any other brand, like Apilio, into one happy smart home system. When available, you should be able to combine different ecosystems of brands into one single installation at home, without having to jump through a thousand hoops, and having a handful of apps to manage each one of the devices.

If you’ve tried automating anything at home, you’ll have realised that choosing the right ecosystem for you can be daunting, as there are so many different options available! And if you’d like to combine devices from different brands, or automate things in a more bespoke way, you’ll find yourself a bit lacking in options. Apilio was created precisely to tackle these two issues, with the goal of combining almost any smart brands out there and building truly smart, customised logic for your home, so we understand this pain better than most. We are also, of course, very interested in Matter as it could bring all these huge smart silos together, allowing us to maximise the potential of our smart homes and increase the flexibility of what you can build when it comes to DIY domotics. 

Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

Why was it delayed?

Just a couple of weeks ago, we were expecting Matter to be released towards the end of 2021. But on August 13th we learned that we won’t see the final specification until the first half of 2022. According to Stacey (we recommend reading her article for the full details on this delay), this is due to the SDK (the software kit that will be shipped with the standard’s specification) needing extra work.

Should I wait for Matter-compatible devices if I need a device today?

Our answer is no, there is no reason to hold off purchasing new devices. This is mainly due to two reasons:

  1. Matter is still a long time away from being released. We are not expecting to see devices compatible with Matter out in the wild for probably until the second half of 2022, as the standard is still being built to this day. 
  2. It’s down to the brands to release the device updates and start selling new hubs, bulbs, and other devices compatible with Matter. The Big Three (Amazon, Google and Apple) have already been gearing up for this for eighteen months, which it’s understandable as this is not a small development effort. Even so, releasing new devices and making old ones compatible via upgrades will take time.

Retro compatibility is happening

What’s interesting is that we are already hearing that some of the big brands will make their current devices compatible with Matter. For example Amazon announced recently during their Alexa Live developer conference that most Echo and Echo Dot devices and all Echo Studio, Echo Flex, Echo Plus, and Echo Show devices are going to be upgraded to work with Matter, and let you control Matter-compatible devices through Alexa. It’s great to know that existing devices are only a firmware update away from being compatible with Matter, as this will speed up the rollout of this new compatibility protocol to existing devices. 

What this means is that you should investigate if the brand of your new device has announced compatibility with Matter already, as many are already promising that they will make their devices compatible with the new standard as soon as it becomes available. This will give you some peace of mind that you won’t have to replace all your devices in a year’s time, and allow you to test the new protocol as soon as the brand of your new device makes it available.

We should be patient but still, we are all eagerly awaiting this new, promised protocol that will unite all devices and let them speak to one another without silly app barriers.

In summary: do buy that device!

We are still many months away from seeing the first Matter-compatible devices out there, and there will be lots of testing and quick iterations at the onset. Brands are already promising Matter compatibility for their existing devices, so this is going to be key for buying devices that will be compatible with the standard later on. If there is a device you are interested in, it’s probably safe to buy it today; just make sure its hardware will be compatible with Matter, needing only a software update to ascend to matterhood. Happy shopping!

By Anna @ Apilio

August 25, 2021
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