Applebacked ‘Matter’ smart home standard delayed to 2022

Back in 2019, Apple announced that it was teaming up 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 rebranded to “Matter,” the launch has now been delayed until 2022.

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

While Matter itself has a “feature-complete specification,” the group still has to finish developing the SDK and the certification program by which developers will be able to get 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 sometime vaguely in the first half of 2022.

Companies such as Philips Hue have promised to bring Matter support to their existing accessories, which could happen in early 2022. As Stacey Higginbotham points out, however, new Matter-compatible accessories aren’t 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 delivering a high-quality software development kit as part of the spec.

The delay is disappointing, but it isn’t a huge shock. What the folks behind Matter are trying to do is audacious. The goal is to deliver an interoperable smart home protocol that lets devices talk to each other and share their capabilities. It will help cut through the challenges of building a smart home, where consumers have to worry if their light bulb will work with Alexa or Google, or if their door locks can talk to their security sensors. All Matter-certified devices will be able to work together; consumers will be able to choose from among multiple digital assistants, hubs, and apps as suits their needs.

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

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