The tech companies selling smart homes to consumers have, after years of experiments and projects, realized something crucial: in order to realize a cohesive, smart home vision, all of their devices have to get along. Amazon announced in a blog post today that it will officially support Matter in its Echo devices and Eero wifi routers. It's the latest in a series of announcements from companies pledging their support: Samsung announced its adoption of the standard last week, following Google and Apple. That means that for the first time, Echo, Nest, SmartThings and HomeKit are all moving in the same direction.
Matter is a standard, created by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, that device makers can follow when building smart devices that can talk with other devices. The standard will run on the Thread radio protocol, along with Wi-Fi. (Thread offers a low-power, low-bandwidth and low-latency network for smart home devices.)
Matter's goal has always been to become the standard for smart home devices, and to assure that the smart home works across devices, ecosystems and platforms. That would mean you can control a Google Home from the Alexa app, for example, as long as both support Matter. Matter-supported devices won't be on the market until 2022, but there are plenty of companies working on them, including Eve, Yale, Wemo and Schlage.
The Big Tech companies are all also coming together in the Thread Group, with many joining the board of directors. Amazon announced it will join the board to "help shape the future of this key Matter protocol." Samsung did the same when it announced its support of Matter.
So far, Matter seems to be purely infrastructural, rather than a new platform on top of the many existing platforms. A unified Matter-branded app is not on the horizon right now, The Verge reported. Instead, the choice of which smart device app to use to control a Matter-supported ecosystem will be on the user. Matter's promise is that consumers won't have to wonder whether different brands of smart home devices will play nicely with each other; that has always seemed like the right outcome for the smart home, and it seems closer to reality than ever. And with Apple, Amazon, Google and Samsung leading the charge, it seems likely that other companies will fall into line.
Update: This story has been updated to more accurately describe Matter's interoperability between platforms. Updated 11/4/2021.