The smart home Matter train is gathering speed. Samsung is following Google’s commitment to the new standard at its developer conference last week and Apple’s addition of Matter support in iOS 15 at WWDC.
At SDC21, Samsung’s virtual developer conference taking place this week, the company announced that Matter is now fully integrated across Galaxy devices, televisions, Family Hub appliances, and SmartThings hubs.
Samsung, a founding member of the Matter group (formerly known as Project ChiP), has joined the Thread Group Board of Directors, where it will work alongside Apple, Google/Nest, Lutron, Qualcomm, and Silicon Labs to shape the future of the primary protocol that Matter devices will use.
Matter is a new connectivity standard developed by an industry consortium with the goal of becoming the de-facto smart home application protocol. The goal is to make purchasing and setting up connected devices easier once it goes live in early 2022.
Consumers should be able to purchase any Matter-compliant smart home device and be confident that it will work with their preferred smart home platform and voice assistant, regardless of who made it. They should be able to set up and connect each device using the same process and app, making it as simple as screwing in a light bulb.
With the adoption of Matter by Samsung SmartThings, it will be possible to connect devices that previously couldn’t connect to the SmartThings app or hub, as well as connect SmartThings compatible devices to other Matter-enabled smart home ecosystems.
The importance of consumer choice is highlighted here. If you want to control your devices with the Google Home app, SmartThings app, or Apple Home app, you can do so without worrying if they’re Google-enabled, SmartThings-enabled, or HomeKit-enabled. If it works with Matter, it will work with all three apps and voice assistants that are compatible (along with many more).
Samsung also revealed that SmartThings hubs will be built into its TVs and Family Hub refrigerators. In theory, this eliminates the need for a separate SmartThings hub device. Samsung had previously announced this, but it is only now being implemented.
SmartThings is transitioning from its physical hub-based roots to a more integrated hardware experience with Samsung products. SmartThings Edge, which allows device-to-device communications to run locally even without an internet connection, paves the way for a future in which multiple hardware radios aren’t required to keep a smart home running smoothly.
Bixby, Samsung’s beleaguered smart voice assistant, received a few updates as well. While there’s no word on whether Samsung’s Galaxy Home Bixby smart speaker will ever be released — a spokesperson said, “We… will provide updates on the availability of Galaxy Home in the near future,” — Bixby is getting a new feature.
The Bixby Home Platform, which was announced at the developers’ conference, will give the voice assistant something similar to Alexa and Google Home Routines. You can now perform multiple tasks with a single voice command. If you say “Bixby, play a movie from Netflix,” for example, you can get responses from multiple SmartThings-connected devices.