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Amazon to make Echo devices Matter-ready by December 2022

Now that Matter's interoperability standard has arrived, manufacturers like Amazon are beginning the process of bringing it to their smart home platforms.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Matter logo above Amazon products
Amazon | ZDNET

Amazon just announced the integration of Matter over Wi-Fi for 17 Echo devices, plugs, switches, and bulbs coming in December of this year, but only for Android setup.

"Matter will help to simplify development and fuel innovation while lowering adoption barriers for our shared customers," according to Marja Koopmans, director of smart home and health at Amazon.

During your smart home adventure, you may have heard of Matter over Thread once or twice. However, Amazon is launching Matter over Wi-Fi by the end of this year, and later moving on to support Thread.

Also: Samsung has big plans for Matter. Here's how it could transform your home

The decision was made largely due to testing capabilities: Koopmans pointed out that most consumers have Wi-Fi in their homes, most commonly in smaller objects like smart plugs, switches, and lightbulbs. At this time, the overwhelming availability of Wi-Fi over Thread is more conducive to conducting wide-capacity testing.

"In line with our high bar for delivering quality experiences, we are making sure every feature and device type undergoes rigorous testing and works flawlessly with Alexa before we release it," Koopmans said.

Also: IoT devices can undermine your security. Here are 4 ways to boost your defenses

This is only the beginning for consumers' opportunity to mix and match devices from different manufacturers, regardless of brand or protocol, via Matter.

Amazon plans to add Matter over Thread support to 30 Echo and Eero devices, as well as expanding Matter availability across iOS, as it works with Apple's latest requirements, in the beginning of 2023.

Works with Alexa for Matter devices

Amazon's Alexa has been one of the most compatible smart voice assistants in the smart home world for a few years. Right now, there are over 30,000 "Works with Alexa" devices from different manufacturers and using different connectivity protocols.

matter logo next to Amazon logo.
Image: Amazon

Amazon is still looking forward to the release of its Alexa Connect Kit SDK for Matter program but it did announce the release of its Works with Alexa certification requirements for Matter devices.

Koopmans said Amazon is "raising the bar on quality, reliability, and functionality" to give consumers confidence that they're buying devices from a trusted brand that will work with Alexa.

Amazon is providing new features for developers, like Alexa's Frustration-Free Setup (FFS), included in the Alexa Connect Kit SDK for Matter even for products bought from third parties. FFS makes it so consumers can add new smart devices to their homes by simply powering them on.

Also: Matter hits close to home: Amazon prepares to add it to most of its devices

What is Matter again?

Matter is a new connectivity standard launched by the Connectivity Standard Alliance (CSA) in the beginning of October 2022. It aims to make it possible for smart home devices using different protocols to work together.

Matter works over Thread, which is an IP-based protocol, and Wi-Fi and Ethernet. Matter employs Wi-Fi and Ethernet to connect to smart home devices that require high bandwidth, like video doorbells or security cameras. And Thread works for low-power items like entry or motion sensors.

Imagine a group of five tourists who each speak a different language coincidentally going into a lobby at the same time to ask a receptionist for directions. If the receptionist only speaks one of the five languages, the other four tourists will be left unable to communicate. 

Right now, the IoT is flooded with connectivity protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Thread, Zigbee, and Z-wave. If you buy a door lock that uses Zigbee, for example, and you want to control it with your phone, then you need to buy a hub for it that "speaks" those "languages." Matter is an effort to speak a universal language, aka a standard, so it can be used by most devices to communicate.

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