Delays have been a major part of the Matter narrative, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to hear one of the biggest names attached to the new smart home standard is delaying its rollout. As reported by Hueblog.com, Philips Hue will not update its bridge to support Matter by the end of Q1 2023 (i.e., now), despite having promised to do so last November.
“As Philips Hue is focused on quality, we will take some extra time before making the software update to the Philips Hue Bridge available to all consumers, to invest in really getting it right and delivering to the expectations of consumers,” Kelly Gramuglia of Signify, which owns Philips Hue, told The Verge in an email.
The update, when it arrives, will bridge all of Hue’s existing lights, back to its original bulb launched in 2012, into any compatible Matter ecosystem. (The only Hue devices that won’t support Matter are the Hue Play Sync Box and Tap Dial Switch.) Gramuglia implied that the delay was in part to do with the slow rollout from other companies. “The launch of Matter is co-dependent of other players within the smart home industry,” she said.
Amazon’s Alexa and Samsung SmartThings Matter controllers don’t support bridging yet — which means Hue’s bulbs won’t work with Matter on those platforms until they do. Additionally, neither Google nor Amazon’s smart home apps work with Matter on iOS yet, resulting in a potentially frustrating experience for users.
There’s no new timeline for the Hue Matter update, either. For those keen to try out their Hue lighting products with Matter, you can sign up for a developer account and access the beta software.
If you're happy with your Hue setup as is, I wouldn’t advise rushing out and doing that. As I’ve reported, Matter is about fixing the foundations of smart home connectivity, not about bringing new features to your existing devices (at least not yet). As I have also reported, the ecosystems are not quite in lockstep with the new standard. Currently, the setup and use of Matter devices across multiple ecosystems is frustrating.
Philips Hue already works with all the major platforms, making one of the biggest advantages of Matter a bit moot for most people. However, once Matter-enabled, Hue devices should work entirely locally in your home, no matter which smart home system you control them through. This should improve reliability and speed in some scenarios. Signify also told Hueblog.com that, with Matter, it will be easier to connect more than one bridge to Amazon Alexa or Google Home — handy if you max out Hue’s existing limit of 50 lights per bridge.
The delay isn’t a disaster for Matter. Signify is not about to bail on the standard as Belkin did last week. It’s one of Matter’s earliest and most ardent supporters. But it is another illustration that Matter as a concept may be ready, but the companies working together to support it still have a long way to go.