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.
Jon Smirl says
I don’t know if this it your problem, but you will see that error if IPv6 is not working properly in your house. For example I discovered my oldest router did not route IPv6 multicast. The packets went into the router and never came out. IPv6 not working right has nothing to do with Matter itself, but since Matter is the very first widely deployed IPv6 system for the home it is going to expose existing problems in your IPv6 network.
Unfortunately I do not know of any good method to test and debug the functioning of IPv6 in your home. I work in this area so I could debug it, I don’t know how consumers are going to find these issues. I’d like to see Google or Apple provide some way of testing IPv6 since it is difficult to debug. In my case most of my house worked except for the area covered by the old router. That gave me the clue the router was the problem.
JD Roberts says
I agree that many people are not going to understand that the issue is the router they are using. But I think what’s going to happen is that they will contact the matter device manufacturer and that company’s support will walk them through the check. Or tell them to contact their ISP to check it.
The first step for many consumers would be just to check an IPv6 test site from a device connected to the router they have concerns about. It won’t show everything, but it may be enough. There are a number of these with different tests and features: usually your own Internet provider will have one. If you want a big-name site, Google has one.
It appears that this is a common enough problem that some of the device manufacturers are already providing FAQs with links to an IPv6 test site. For example, Meross now does:
(There has been a long-standing issue since IPV6 was first introduced that powerline devices generally didn’t handle multicasting. For those, you have to go to the powerline device manufacturer to see what your options are.)
So you make a very good point that some people won’t have any idea that their home Wi-Fi network isn’t matter-ready because it isn’t IPV6 ready. But I do expect Matter device manufacturers to start including this in their support checklists soon if they haven’t already.
You don’t need IPv6 working through your home router. For Matter and Thread, IPv6 is currently only used on the local network (LAN/VLAN) and the border router uses IPv4 when needed to communicate externally.
I don’t understand why Meross want the users to troubleshoot their Public IPv6 for Matter to work.
JD Roberts says
I may be mistaken, but my understanding is that there’s an IPv6 requirement for the multi admin feature when onboarding a device that was first added by a different Matter Controller.
Matter Controllers are “Matter nodes” but are NOT “Matter Devices” and so don’t have to follow all the other rules. For example, their communication can be cloud to cloud to another matter controller, rather than local. They specifically don’t have to be on the same network.
But maybe Meross is just using the external test site as a quick field test way of checking if the customer’s router is set up for IPv6.
@Jon, are you sure IPv6 is the problem here? It could also be that you have a separate network on your oldest router and because mDNS isn’t routable this traffic stops there. mDNS has nothing to do with IPv6. (Apple calls mDNS “Bonjour”.)
The solution would be an mDNS proxy in your old router, for example, based on Avahi.
BUT, I believe mDNS proxy currently doesn’t work reliably with Matter/Thread and is not supported.
Jon Smirl says
You can use an app called ‘mDNS Discovery’ on your phone to see Matter nodes. Search for ‘matter’. Setting your phone to use the wifi network and walking around will do some basic testing. Make sure you can see the matter devices everywhere.
Lawrence K says
I don’t have an of the Meross plugs, but I’ve had matter since early ios16 beta’s with a home made matter device. My Hue Bridge got matter on 11/7 and worked fine. Some initial Firmware issues with Eve devices needing an android to provision first. Since then I’ve had Tapo plugs that paired flawlessly. Matter now works perfectly for me on IOS, and HomeAssistant. My Aqara hub now has matter and works flawlessly too.
Google and Amazon only work with an Android phone, can’t use Amazon’s own tablets to add matter devices. Smart things works with devices but not bridges. I was able to use Ios’s Matter Multi-Admin to flawlessly pair everything to other platforms without any problem.
I’m sorry for your troubles.
Kevin C. Tofel says
Interesting. AFAIK, Philips Hue hasn’t yet pushed the Bridge update for Matter yet. How did you get Matter on it back in November?
JD Roberts says
It’s been available to those with a hue developer account as a beta since November 2022.
I didn’t have any of your issues when I upgraded my Eve Energy to Matter using the Eve and Apple Home apps. Maybe because I don’t have upgraded to the new Homekit Architectural infrastructure?