After three years of waiting, I finally upgraded some of my smart home devices to Matter. I was ultimately successful but there were some twists and turns to navigate. To be fair, the Matter rollout is literally happening right now. And some of the apps required to experience Matter are in beta status. So I wouldn’t rush out and try this just yet unless you’ve got some time, patience, and the right devices.
In my case, I used two Eve devices that I’ve previously reviewed. The Eve Energy Smart Plug and Eve Motion Sensor are currently Matter-upgradeable. I also used my iPhone 12 with iOS 16.2, a Google Pixel 7, and a second-generation Google Nest Hub. From a software perspective, I have early access to a beta Eve app, which anyone can sign up for. And I used the Google Home app on my Pixel 7 since it was just upgraded to support Matter.
At this point, both Eve devices appeared in the Eve app, the Apple Home app with my other HomeKit devices, and in Google Home on my Android phone. I can also see, and control them on the Nest Hub, either by touch or by voice. And that’s where a key Matter benefit comes in because until now, Eve devices were exclusive to the Apple HomeKit ecosystem. Today I asked the Google Assistant to turn Eve’s smart plug on and off and it just worked.
But, getting to that point didn’t quite just work, however. In fact, it took me a fair amount of work.
I started with the smart plug that controls my Christmas tree lights and upgraded to Matter in the Eve beta app. I was warned that once the firmware to enable Matter is installed on the plug, I wouldn’t be able to manage it directly in HomeKit. Keep that in mind if you decide to go this route.
The firmware upgrade went without a hitch. Interestingly, the device was assigned a new QR code specific to Matter. The old HomeKit code can’t be used with this device. That’s a bit of a challenge because every HomeKit device has a unique code on it, to begin with. If you ever remove a HomeKit device and need to re-add it, the code is always available on, or inside, the device.
After a Matter upgrade, that HomeKit code is useless. And, as part of the upgrade process, you have to save or print an image of the new Matter code. It might be a bit challenging for some folks to keep all of these new QR codes for future use, but you’ll need to.
Continuing the process, I scanned the new code in the Eve app. Unfortunately, after several minutes of trying, adding the device failed. I tried with the Apple Home app as well, but no luck. It took a few helpful conversations with an Eve Home representative to try and figure out what was wrong.
While waiting for the back-and-forth conversation, I decided to try upgrading my Eve Motion sensor. Again, the firmware upgrade worked fine, I got a new Matter QR code, and then… no luck adding the device in either the Eve or Apple Home apps. I took a different approach and used the Google Home app and… it worked! The latest version of Google Home does support the addition of Matter devices, which Google announced earlier this week.
At that point, the Eve Motion showed on my phone and on my Nest Hub. Thinking that maybe this might “rejigger” the Eve and Apple Home apps, I tried once again with those. Sure enough, this time, the Eve Motion was added to both iOS apps and I had control over the device from two ecosystems.
I still struggled a bit with the Eve Energy Smart Plug. In the end, I reset it by pressing and holding its LED button for 10 seconds. Unfortunately, the Eve and Apple Home apps still couldn’t pair with it. However, scanning the device’s unique QR code in Google Home did the trick. And after that, I was also able to add it to the iOS apps.
I really didn’t expect that Google’s app would work when the iOS apps struggled a bit. However, this shows why Matter is so important: It opens up devices to multiple smart home ecosystems.
If it didn’t I’d have two fewer devices in my house right now because they simply disappeared from HomeKit and Eve after the Matter firmware upgrade. That’s not me being an apologist for some of the challenges I had; it’s simply a fact.
Clearly though, as the Matter device upgrades rollout begins on a widespread basis, there will be some pain points. That’s something I have expected: Getting scores of companies to work together with a common protocol for previously siloed devices isn’t going to happen without a few bumps and bruises. Hopefully, device makers learn from early experiences such as mine and improve the process.
I should note that although I didn’t lose any automations I had previously set up, one did break. I use the Eve smart plug to turn on my Christmas Tree lights at sunset and then turn them off at 11 pm. The automation is still intact but it’s not attached to a device: I’ll have to re-add the plug for automation.
I don’t really mind though: Being able to voice control an Eve plug with a Nest Hub using Google Assistant has me so happy, I can fix the automation myself.