The first update to the Matter smart home interoperability standard is here. When the Matter standard launched in October of last year, the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) promised that it would release updates every six months or so. Surprisingly, they delivered (it took much longer to get the initial standard out).
The updates in this release are relatively small, and as part of the announcement the CSA also said it had opened a permanent interoperability testing facility in Portland, Ore. with enough hubs, devices and apps to let developers really explore how their device might play in a variety of ecosystems. Later releases should include the features most of us are waiting for, such as support for additional devices and energy monitoring.
While mostly developer focused, the release updates do include better support for battery operated devices such as sensors, which consumers may notice. The updates also reduce the chance that an intermittently connected device that falls asleep to save on power consumption gets reported as offline.
For developers, version 1.1 has cleaned up and clarified the publicly available Matter code base and specification. The CSA has also provided better guidance for developers that want to contribute new code and new device types. Finally, the CSA has improved the testing process, which should make it easier for folks to certify their devices.
I am incredibly underwhelmed, especially since we’ve seen a lot of misfires so far when it comes to getting Matter devices to work on a single network with multiple devices from other ecosystems. My one-off adding of a Matter device to a single controller worked well, but anything more complicated breaks a little more than half the time. Sure, we’ve only added five devices, but three of them were slogs.
Additionally, support for all Matter device types across all ecosystems has been slow. Yes, this is a big endeavor, and getting so many devices built to completely different specs is a tough thing to do, but Matter did take about three years to come to fruition after it was announced in 2019. At this point, making clarifications and cleaning up the code in a standard should just be something the CSA does, not something they include in a press release touting the first update.
Thankfully, device makers aren’t giving up. The CSA said that since the release of Matter 1.0 in October, the CSA has certified 1,135 new Matter devices and seen 60 new members joining the Alliance. As a reminder, we should see the next release later this year. My hope is that one will include more than simple housekeeping.