Apple-backed 'Matter' smart home standard delayed until 2022

Cupertino, August 18, 2021

Back in 2019, Apple announced it was partnering with Samsung, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance to create a more open and secure standard for smart home accessories. Then referred to as "Connected Home over IP" and eventually renamed "Matter", the launch has now been delayed until 2022.

The first Matter-compatible accessories were due later this year, with Apple laying the groundwork for support in iOS 15. Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) CEO Tobin Richardson announced the delay today in a blog post, as reported by The Verge.

Although Matter itself has a "feature-complete specification," the group still needs to finish the SDK and certification program that will allow developers to have both existing and new hardware officially labeled as Matter-approved. While the original goal was to have much of that work done this year, with the first Matter-certified hardware rolling out by the end of 2021, the new timetable pushes that out to somewhere vaguely in the first half of 2022.

Companies like Philips Hue have promised to bring Matter support to their existing accessories, which could happen in early 2022. However, as Stacey Higginbotham notes, new Matter-compatible accessories are not likely until the second half of 2022. Higginbotham writes in her excellent newsletter:

Richardson gave several reasons why the Matter Working Group (formerly known as the Project Connected Home over IP Working Group) decided to delay the specification. They included the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the addition of another 29 companies to the Matter membership, and the challenge of providing a high-quality software development kit as part of the spec.

The delay is disappointing, but it's not a huge shock. What the people behind Matter are trying to do is bold. The goal is to deliver an interoperable smart home protocol that lets devices talk to each other and share their capabilities. It will help break down the challenges of building a smart home, where consumers have to worry about whether their lamp will work with Alexa or Google, or whether their door locks can talk to their security sensors. All Matter-certified devices will be able to work with each other; consumers can choose from multiple digital assistants, hubs, and apps depending on their needs.

Ideally, once the first Matter-compatible accessories hit the market, everything will have been worth the wait. Apple has promised that Matter will make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon's Alexa, Apples Siri, Google's Assistant and others.

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