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Matter postpones smart home interoperability until fall

The news: The Matter smart home standard co-developed by Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and various other companies will be delayed.

What this means: Smart home standards have been a tangled mess, with dozens of companies pushing their own protocols for a variety of IoT devices including smart lights, thermostats, locks, security cameras, and appliances.

Matter, which was originally slated to launch in 2021, is a framework to get disparate products to work together, allowing for wider interoperability across brands and devices, per The Verge. 

  • The open-source connectivity standard, allows all the devices in a home to communicate with each other locally by leveraging things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and Thread, without the need for a cloud service or component. 
  • Michelle Mindala-Freeman of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) told The Verge that Matter would be delayed until fall 2022.
  • More time is needed to finalize the software development kit (SDK) that device manufacturers can use as a standard to work within the Matter ecosystem.
  • Mindala-Freeman attributes the delay to an unprecedented number of platforms adopting Matter, adding more complexity to the SDK’s range and operating parameters.

The problem: Constant delays in rolling out Matter could impede the launch of newer smart home devices as manufacturers take a wait-and-see approach. 

  • 150 devices in 15 categories from 50 companies are included in the first wave of Matter launches and are undergoing testing.
  • Matter has one chance to unify smart home devices and offer consumers reliable and seamless connectivity across devices.
  • Mounting delays underscore the challenge of working across manufacturers in a fragmented space.

Analyst insight: “This is a rare example of a delay being a good thing,” said Jessica Lis, technology analyst for Insider. “More time is needed to sort out the technical side just because of how many companies want to be involved. This high level of adoption is a good sign, and a few months won't mean anything when the majority of IoT devices on the shelves will be standardized."

What’s the catch? More delays attributed to new companies signing up could result in some of the larger players pushing ahead with devices that aren’t Matter compatible, or they could abandon the standard altogether.