This should be an exciting time. Officially certified Matter devices are arriving and becoming available. So the promise of simple device onboarding and support for multiple smart home ecosystems is here, right? Not so much if you’re an Apple HomeKit user. In fact, the old HomeKit “it just works” experience is now the HomeKit with Matter “good luck with that” experience.
I got my first taste of this when I upgraded the Eve Energy Smart Plug firmware to support Matter back in December. While the firmware upgrade process worked perfectly fine, getting the smart plug connected to my home was a major chore. I spent a few hours trying and re-trying the process to no avail. Eventually, I found a workaround and had my first Matter device working.
I chalked that experience up to early growing pains for Matter, which I think was fair at the time. However, it’s now four months later and I’m having the exact same issues. I just received a pair of brand new, Matter certified Meross smart outlets, for example. These were available for pre-order discount back in January, and now cost $39. They arrived a few days ago and yet, the same onboarding issue exists.
I don’t blame Meross, just as I didn’t blame Eve back in December. And I don’t blame the many folks working on Matter either. In this particular case, it appears Apple has fumbled the ball.
I say that because I used the same workaround I used in December to add the Meross plugs to my smart home. And that work around requires using an Android phone and the Google Home app.
Yes, that’s still what it takes to get a new Matter device in a smart home that runs on the Apple HomeKit platform. You also need an Apple Matter controller, such as the HomePod mini that I have. But the Apple Home app isn’t capable of adding Matter devices yet. In fact, a Matter-certified device, such as my new Meross plugs, don’t come with the old HomeKit QR code. These have their own unique Matter QR code.
That means you need to use another smart home ecosystem app. I happen to have an Android phone, mainly because I reviewed mobile devices for 15 years and still have a few alternative handsets in my closet. That’s how I was able to add the Eve Energy Smart Plug and, more recently, the Tapo Smart Plug, to my home.
However, most people aren’t like me. If they’re a HomeKit household, the odds aren’t good that they have a spare Android device to onboard devices.
Instead, they’re going to see this message when trying to add a Matter-certified device.
Simply put, I don’t think Apple was quite ready for Matter device launches. I say that because Apple introduced a new HomeKit architecture as a software update in December.
I got the upgrade on my iPhone and that’s when everything went downhill. Indeed, Apple pulled the software update and we’ve been waiting for a few iOS updates now for that rollout to restart. And I’ve been waiting for a fix for all of the issues that December update caused.
Aside from the Matter device provisioning problem that requires a non-Apple device to work, my wife got booted from the HomeKit home. My Apple Watch sends me multiple reminders daily that there was a problem adding her to the home. My HomePod mini routinely tells me that my Apple password is incorrect, so I re-add it to reauthenticate.
And I’m not alone in dealing with this. I’ve seen many reports in the Apple Support forms from people that upgraded their HomeKit architecture and are having this and other problems.
I have full faith that Apple will address the HomeKit architecture issue in the near future. That should restore broken HomeKit functionality and add full support for Matter devices. Until then though, the Matter train has left the station, leaving Apple HomeKit users stuck with issues and watching other platforms move forward.