February 26, 2024

What is Matter?

In 2022 Matter came to HomeKit alongside iOS 16.1.

HomeKit is a framework developed by Apple that allows users to control smart home devices using Apple devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or HomePod. It provides a standardized platform for smart home products to communicate with and be controlled by Apple’s ecosystem.

With HomeKit, users can set up and manage smart home accessories, create scenes that involve multiple devices working together, and control their home environment using Siri voice commands. HomeKit uses end-to-end encryption to ensure the security and privacy of smart home data.

Supported devices include lights, thermostats, locks, cameras, doorbells, and more. Manufacturers of smart home products can integrate HomeKit support into their devices, making them compatible with the Apple ecosystem for seamless integration and control.

In 2022 HomeKit was updated to support Matter with iOS 16.1, after running the iOS update users were prompted to update HomeKit. Once HomeKit was updated it would not work with iOS devices that were on iOS 16.0 or older.

HomeKit + Matter

What is Matter?

Matter is an open-source, royalty-free connectivity standard designed to increase interoperability among smart home devices. Formerly known as Project Connected Home over IP (Project CHIP), Matter is supported by major industry players, including Apple, Google, Amazon, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA, formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance), and others.

The goal of Matter is to create a unified and secure standard that allows smart home devices from different manufacturers to work seamlessly together. This standard is intended to improve the consumer experience by enabling easier setup, compatibility, and communication between various types of smart home devices.

Key features and goals of Matter include:

  1. Interoperability: Matter aims to ensure that smart home devices, regardless of their manufacturer, can work together seamlessly. This is achieved by defining a common standard for communication.
  2. Security: Matter prioritizes security by incorporating strong encryption and authentication mechanisms to protect user data and privacy.
  3. Reliability: The standard is designed to provide reliable connectivity, ensuring that smart home devices communicate effectively and consistently.
  4. Scalability: Matter is intended to support a wide range of smart home devices, from light bulbs and thermostats to door locks and sensors.

By providing a standardized foundation, Matter aims to simplify the development process for manufacturers and improve the overall user experience in setting up and using smart home devices. The involvement of major industry players suggests a commitment to creating a widespread and open standard for the benefit of both consumers and the smart home industry.

The goal of Matter is to enhance interoperability among smart home devices, making it easier for devices from different manufacturers to work together seamlessly. However, it’s important to note that not all smart home devices currently support Matter.

Matter is an open-source and royalty-free standard, and its success relies on widespread adoption by device manufacturers. Many major industry players, including Apple, Google, Amazon, and the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), support Matter. However, the transition to Matter may take time, and existing devices that were not designed with Matter support may not be automatically compatible.

Manufacturers have to update or create their devices with Matter compatibility for them to work within the Matter ecosystem. As the standard gains more traction, it is expected that a growing number of new smart home devices will support Matter.

If you are interested in specific devices or considering purchasing new smart home products, it’s recommended to check with the manufacturer to see if the device supports Matter or if there are plans for future updates to enable compatibility. Additionally, the Matter website and industry announcements are good sources for updates on the adoption of the Matter standard.

What did HomeKit use prior to Matter?

HomeKit used its own proprietary communication protocol and standard developed by Apple. The HomeKit platform was designed to work exclusively within the Apple ecosystem, allowing users to control and manage smart home devices using Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and HomePod.

The HomeKit protocol included features for secure pairing, end-to-end encryption, and seamless integration with Siri for voice commands. Manufacturers of smart home devices needed to incorporate HomeKit support into their products to ensure compatibility with Apple’s ecosystem. This proprietary approach helped maintain a level of control and security within the Apple ecosystem.

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