Matter Is Here, but Does It Matter Right Now?

Originally published at: Matter Is Here, but Does It Matter Right Now? - TidBITS

Matter may be the biggest thing to happen to the world of home automation, but does it actually make a difference at the moment?

So, if we ‘upgrade’ to iOS/iPadOS 16.x/Ventura we’re going to get the Matter HomeKit, right?

And, what if it messes up our current hardware, in my case simply some WeMo switches? Is it best to forego the 16.x upgrades?

My Apple TV has already self updated to tvOS 16.x and the WeMo’s are still working so can I assume updating the rest won’t trash my automations?

I had some weird things happen with the recent update and had to redo an automation and delete and add a Wemo, but it is working now.

This transition is very confusing, so I’ll try to clarify:

  1. iOS 16 et al add Matter support and introduce the rewritten Home app. It shouldn’t change any functionality, but the rewrite introduced some bugs and reliability issues.
  2. iOS 16.2 will offer a new optional HomeKit backend that is supposed to improve reliability but isn’t backward compatible with older Apple software versions.
  3. Your individual devices will offer Matter compatibility updates. Many will be optional, and I recommend holding off until everything in your setup is sufficiently updated to support Matter.

I am hopeful that if you have devices that won’t work with Matter they will continue to work with Home, just without the cross-ecosystem functionality. However, we’ll have to wait and see what the realities are.

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One of my original Homepods currently acts as the active (connected) Home Hub with an Apple TV 4K and several other Homepods on standby. As discussed in another thread, I think the Homepod is associated with automation failures. These problem seems to go away if I keep the Homepod playing music all night (at near zero volume).
Josh’s news that the original Homepods won’t be compatible with the forthcoming Homekit adds to that speculation.
There is currently no way to disable a Homepod as a home hub so I am guessing that the Homekit update will automatically no longer use the Homepods and start using my Apple TV 4K. But that it logical - not necessarily Apple-think!
The scary thing about all this is the reliability of Homekit door locks through the system changes.

I think it would take a while to see the benefits of Matter, I bought the Ikea Dirigera Hub 3 days ago. As it is so new I had difficult getting the Ikea devices to talk to Apple Home, Home Assistant , etc. I think I still need to have hubs from different manufacturers until one universal hub can be compatible to most devices.

The other concern is cybersecurity, if we are not careful, IOTs may become the trojan horses in our homes

Could you explain just what that means? Does it mean that my iOS 15 devices will no longer be able to access HomeKit? Or just that the updated Home app will not be available on them, and presumably apps like Home+ will be updated for compatibility?

I never thought there was a question! I thought Matter and non-Matter devices could co-exist without difficulty? Have you heard that it might be otherwise?

Also, what exactly do you mean by cross-ecosystem compatibility? Does this mean I could use Siri and Alexa to control my devices? Wait, no, I can already do that on devices that support both. Just what does this mean?

Sorry for all the questions, I know you’re still trying to figure this stuff out too!

Matter devices are, supposedly, just as secure as HomeKit devices, so the hope is that the opposite is true.

agreed, we can only hope, A lot of services / apps are supposed to be “secured” but seems that the cyber attackers are one step ahead of the game in some cases

This means if you currently have non-Matter Apple HomeKit-only stuff that does not work with Alexa or Google ecosystems already, while they will keep working as HomeKit devices, they will remain not being compatible with Alexa or Google regardless of adding a Matter hub on your setup.

New stuff you get that’s sold as ‘HomeKit &/or Google &/or Alexa…with Matter support’, should work on all ecosystems.

So new devices may be designed for one or more ecosystems, but the Matter support means common functionalities across all ecosystems (regardless of which ecosystem(s) you choose to use personally). And hopefully those common functionalities will grow over time as Matter improves.

At least that’s my understanding.

I just hope we don’t get too much ‘version syndrome’, where you need whole new Matter v2 (3/4/etc.) hub &/or devices to get new functionalities. But I think this is a given at some stage, as new versions of devices may need better hardware to get said new functionalities (and obviously for companies to sell us new stuff continually, of course, lol!).