Starting today, all Android phones and Google Nest products are Matter-enabled. While this update will not provide an immediate change for the average user, it sets the stage for smart home development in 2023.
Update, 4/18/23: The Matter update is now rolling out to Google’s “new” Nest Thermostat—the 2020 model. Other models, specifically the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Thermostat E, will not receive the Matter update (not at this time, at least).
The Matter standard (formerly Project CHIP) aims to make all smart home devices work together regardless of their branding. Every major smart home brand is involved in Matter’s development, though only a handful of companies, including Eve, currently sell Matter-enabled devices. (Certification and implementation of this protocol takes time, unfortunately.)
Most users will not immediately notice the effects of this update. At least, not unless they encounter Fast Pair, a Matter feature that should help you identify and quickly set up new devices using any Matter-compatible smart home app, such as Google Home. Assuming that Google did everything correctly, setting up a new device with Fast Pair should feel similar to connecting a Bluetooth device with your phone.
Interestingly, nearly all of Google’s indoor smart home hardware now doubles as a Matter Hub (which is required for Google Home control over Matter devices). The following devices double as Matter Hubs: Google Home and Home Mini speakers, Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub (first and second-gen), Nest Hub Max, and the new Nest WiFi Pro.
This update also turns the Nest Wifi Pro, Nest Hub Max, and second-gen Nest Hub into Thread Border Routers. I know, this is getting confusing—Thread is a wireless communications standard that lets smart home devices relay information between each other, increasing response time and wireless range. To set up a device with Thread, you need a Thread Border Router.
We should celebrate Google’s implementation of the Matter standard. It’s a serious milestone in the smart home market. Still, we’re not happy with Matter’s loose implementation, and we worry that this new protocol could make things more complicated if companies don’t learn to collaborate.