Amazon’s Latest Matter Moves Should Make the Smart Home a Little Less Confusing

CES is a good time to look ahead, and that’s exactly what Amazon is doing at the Las Vegas tech show by sharing its plans for the continued development of support for Matter, a new universal wireless smart home standard. The company behind Alexa has already launched Matter support over Wi-Fi on select Echo devices in smart homes that use Android devices. Now, at CES 2023, Amazon says support for iOS is coming this spring, along with support for Matter transmissions via Thread, a Wi-Fi-based protocol that’s positioned to act as a dedicated delivery service for device-to-device transmissions between compatible devices.

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The launch will also bring more Echo and Eero devices with Matter, including existing devices that are already in people’s homes. Every Echo speaker except the original first-gen Amazon Echo is slated to get Matter support this year, and Amazon is showing off its fourth-gen Echo as a potential Matter flagship. In addition to existing support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, the smart speaker’s support for Matter over both Wi-Fi and Thread will make it one of the most multilingual smart home devices on the market.

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“This multi-protocol support on Echo devices allows customers to mix and match devices and tap into the latest innovations without having to consider connectivity protocols or invest in additional equipment,” Amazon’s announcement says.

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An image shows several new categories of home devices that will work with Matter later in 2023, including robot vacuums, smart curtains, smart home cameras and garage door openers.

The next edition of Matter later in 2023 will add new categories to the mix, including robot vacuums, smart home cameras and garage door openers.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

Additionally, smart home users can expect to see Matter support for new devices in the coming months. Limited to must-haves like smart lights and smart plugs at its launch, the standard will soon bring things like thermostats, cameras, robot vacuums and smart curtains into the mix as well. The Connected Standards Alliance, which oversees the development of Matter, announced a two-year release cycle in Novemberso look for that next release with new device types by June of this year.

Meanwhile, there should be plenty of developer activity behind the scenes, Amazon says. For example, the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit, first announced last summer to help developers build software around Alexa, will have its first three features in preview later this month. The credential sharing feature aims to help Thread-compatible Matter devices communicate with each other, with Alexa, and with the respective developer app, making it easier to onboard new devices and prevent in-home Thread networks from becoming fragmented. Meanwhile, two-way device sync and group sync are intended to allow Matter devices installed on platforms other than Amazon’s to share their device names and group information with Alexa, allowing the nomenclature to transfer from platform to platform.

In addition, a new tool available in preview called the Matter Analytics Console will allow developers of Matter-compatible devices to monitor aggregated performance metrics such as latency and success rate, making it easier to optimize the experience and react to issues as they arise.

Amazon is clearly hoping all of this will help spur developers into action during what’s shaping up to be another busy year for the smart home. We’ll monitor those efforts as we move deeper into 2023, and test Materia as the launch continues and as newly announced devices make it to market.

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