Matter’s benefit, and its problem is that it is strictly an application layer protocol. Everything runs over IPv6. Which is good, in that it’s not tied to any physical transport (e.g. Ethernet, Wi-Fi or Thread), but it’s bad that implementers must get the rest of the networking stack (from physical through IP) from third-party sources. It also means that hardware must be powerful enough to be able to host an IPv6 stack.
I think it’s biggest advantage is that it is designed to be interoperable across multiple vendors. I don’t think (for example) we’ll ever see Google create HomeKit products and Apple will never release Google Home products. But both (and many other big players) have come together to design Matter, which is previously unheard of.
But ultimately, no standard will work unless it gains widespread adoption. And there are substantial costs for that.
In the case of Matter, you need to become a member of the CSA and pay a non-trivial annual membership fee, and then pay for product certification in order to be able to use the Matter name and logo on your product.
This means that products with a logo should all be interoperable (good), but it means that a lot of small/cheap players will be priced out of the market (bad). The code is open source, so anybody can make a product, but if you can’t advertise that you’re using Matter without the certification, it may not be worth bothering.
I have some Matter switches and recently they wanted to update, but in order to do so, they wanted me to decide on control through Matter OR HomeKit. I wasn’t sure if that was just for the update and then I could go back to HomeKit (I want one central controller) but it was phrased in such a way that I did not update. That is bad.
I think those pundits were trying to say a couple of things, AFAIUI.
Firstly, functionality is so lacking when using Matter at the moment, meaning users are forced back into the separate brands’ platforms controls, as it is seemingly taking ages for new basic features to arrive or for fixes to be implemented and then distributed to both current and new devices via each manufacturer’s updates.
Secondly, more specifically, that the development is very slow and quite crude. So when a new functionality is finally added, it’s not specific enough to do most of the functions needed by the device in question.
Eg. Like a thermostat being able to do the basics of turning on/off at certain times, but not able to be set to do interactions with other devices.
One has to wonder if this is going to be just another platform, instead of the the main platform most products use. It’s become rather a cliché, but see the old comic strip:
The bad mouthing is, in my opinion, largely coming from budget manufacturers who can’t or won’t afford the implementation requirements that David outlined. Also, from people who have spent money on such equipment and realize that they can’t gain Matter compatibility without new hardware.
I’m not sure about that. Those I’ve seen/heard from who are saying it’s not that great are more pundits and journalists, rather than budget manufacturers.
The licensing fees are needed to pay for the development. AFAIUI, both manufacturers along with alliance members (Apple, Google, etc.) all pay-in for those costs. So yes, the cheap crap gets closed out, as they don’t pay in, I guess.
That’s one possibility. The other is that they are protecting their brand and want to make sure that incompatible/broken implementations don’t ship with marketing that implies they are supported.
By requiring certification to use the logo, they ensure that bad implementations ship without the branding. Of course, it also means that companies that can’t/won’t pay the fees can’t use the branding, even if they are fully compliant, but that’s no different from any other standards body, including USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi and countless others.
My only area of disagreement is requiring membership in order to go through the certification process. If they want to give an advantage to member companies, they can offer a different pricing schedule for non-members, but IMO, the option should still exist.
Of course, this all depends on the certification agencies doing their job properly. If they pass products that aren’t fully compliant, then the whole system falls apart and the brand becomes meaningless.
You can, should you so desire, develop a fully-compliant Matter product without paying a dime to anyone. You won’t be able to use Matter branding when you go to advertise/sell it, but if you’re OK with that, the CSA won’t stop you.
I don’t know how they’ll react if you market your product as “Matter compatible” without using any of their logos. It will be interesting to see what happens when the first product tries to ship this way.
I would like to think that it should be upgradable via an over-the-air update. But we all know that some manufacturers (even big-name ones) prefer to abandon products rather than release updated firmware.
According to those spreading the F.U.D., Matter has more stringent and resource hungry requirements so old equipment simply cannot be upgraded. Rather than do this, some manufacturers turn to badmouthing instead. (See Rachio for one example.)
And I agree with Jimthing that it’s largely pundits who are dissing the standard, but in my experience (I’ve written about smart home technology for nearly two decades), many of the opinions from pundits parrot the manufacturer’s spin. As the cheap (and thus popular) old devices are getting shut out, those companies are badmouthing Matter in an attempt to stay in the game.
re. Rachio. A quick search came up with them having massive problems with HomeKit integration, hence abandoning support, despite their best efforts to do so. Presumably that means they’re not doing Matter either if they can’t get HomeKit to work? Whether that’s them badmouthing, or perhaps Apple’s fault for not offering API’s that work properly and thus Apple tech staff that can effectively aid them in doing so adequately, who knows? Where does Rachio sit in the (seemingly mainly US) market…cheap/mid/upper?
re. Matter itself. Which manufacturers are dissing it though? And more poignantly, is Matter actually worth bothering with, as the limited functionality and slowness of implementation seem to be issues affecting usage?
I have a matter plug that I purchased 2 for $25. Works great under homekit (with no software installation or anything special) to control our air cleaner. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have enough amps/watts/volts/whatever to power our espresso machine. From what I can see so far, the matter thing is working (at least for me).
I have a 4-pk of the previous smaller UK HomeKit-only versions. They’re semi-OK for network reliability over distances from my 4K ATV box via WiFi, but I do wonder if these (new improved™!) Matter ones would work better, as they have the newer Thread networking compatibility?
EDIT 1: Meross’s newer Matter smart plugs also come with with the extra energy monitoring feature.
EDIT 2: Just noticed, for US/CA folks, your version does not have energy monitoring.
Espresso machine motor probably starts with a current spike that very briefly exceeds 10A that trips the smart switch. Otherwise your house wiring might be at its limits and causing a voltage drop that can also cause a current spike.