Matter, the new smart home interoperability standard being developed by Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and others, has been delayed. Again. Expected this summer, the launch has been rescheduled for fall of 2022, Michelle Mindala-Freeman of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) which oversees Matter, told The Verge.
The delay is needed to finalize the software development kit (SDK) device manufacturers will use to incorporate their products into the Matter ecosystem. According to Mindala-Freeman, because of a larger than expected number of platforms adopting Matter, the code for the SDK needs more work to ensure everything will operate together smoothly – which is the overall promise of the Matter standard.
Additionally, she says that while the feature-set for the Matter specification is complete, more time is needed to work on a few key areas of the SDK “to stabilize, tweak, tune, and improve quality in the code.”
Matter has been delayed numerous times already
This is not the first delay for Matter, which is an ambitious undertaking that aims to unite the smart home’s disparate devices and ecosystems and make everything work together. Originally announced in late 2019 with a planned release of late 2020, Project CHIP, as it was then called, was delayed until sometime in 2021. In August 2021, following a rebrand to Matter, the release was pushed to mid-2022. Now, just three months out from when we thought we would start to see Matter devices arrive, the release has been pushed back to fall 2022.
How confident is the CSA that it will hit this new deadline? “We will have the SDK complete in Q2 and will make a version of the specification available to our membership at the end of [June],” says Mindala-Freeman. “These are definitely things that are building our confidence that our membership is all-in on Matter, and are driving forward to be done this fall.”
According to the new timeline, we could still see Matter-certified products this year, but perhaps not as many as we had hoped and definitely later than originally planned. One hundred and thirty devices in 15 categories from 50 companies are part of the first rollout already going through the testing process. These devices include smart bulbs, plugs, and switches; smart locks, thermostats, blinds, and sensors; and garage door controllers, wireless access points, bridges, and TVs. Companies in this first wave will be ready to apply for Matter certification and ship to users as soon as the Matter specification is released.
“The long and short of [the delay] is scale, scope, and doing something that is absolutely one hundred percent a new thing that has never been done before,” says Mindala-Freeman. “It takes time.”
The CSA is also allowing more time for the build and verification of a larger than expected number of platforms (OS’s and chipsets), which it hopes will see Matter launch with a healthy slate of compatible Matter devices, apps, and ecosystems. This need arose over the last year based on activity seen on the project’s Github repository.
More than 16 platforms, including OS platforms like Linux, Darwin, Android, Tizen, and Zephyr, and chipset platforms from Infineon, Silicon Labs, TI, NXP, Nordic, Espressif Systems and Synaptics will now support Matter. “We had thought there would be four or five platforms, but it’s now more than 16,” says Mindala-Freeman. “The volume at which component and platform providers have gravitated to Matter has been tremendous.”
The knock-on effect of these SDK changes is that the CSA needs to give its 50 member companies who are currently developing Matter-capable products another chance to test those devices before they go through the Matter certification process.
The CSA also shared details of that initial certification process with The Verge. Following a specification validation event (SVE) this summer — a final check of all the testing procedures to verify a product will work with Matter — companies will be able to put their devices through formal testing and apply for Matter certification. In general, an SVE process takes a couple of weeks, but this one is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks. “Interest in Matter has been unprecedented,” says Jon Harros, director of certification and testing programs for the CSA. So, more time is needed.
It will now be at least six months before Matter-compatible devices hit shelves.
All this means that it’s going to be at least six months until we see any Matter devices on shelves, probably longer. That timeline is just for devices from the 50 companies that are currently in the testing process, which are allowed to test their products through the SVE. Others will have to wait until the SVE is complete to begin their testing.
For those other companies, product rollout could begin at the end of the year or into 2023. But they will get a head start on development, as the CSA has decided to make a near-final 0.9 Matter spec available to the over 450 members of the CSA in June (when they had originally expected to get the final specification). This means they can start to develop products and be ready to test and certify as soon as Matter 1.0 is released.
In a blog post published today about the delay, the CSA emphasized that this is less a set-back and more an extension to allow development for more platforms. “The finish line is in sight,” the post says, and that a few extra months will be worth the wait to “tear down the walled gardens in IoT.”
Correction, Thursday, March 17, 9:50 AM: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the SVE, it’s a specification validation event. We regret the error.