Amazon will update its plug-in Echo speakers with the open-source platform Matter later this year, joining other big tech companies like Samsung, Google, Philips Hue to simplify the smart home setup process.
As reported by The Nerdshala, Amazon is the latest tech company to join the Matter initiative, and will update most of the speakers in its Echo Studio, Echo Show, Echo Flex and Echo Plus speakers, as well as the popular Echo Dot range. No release date has been announced for the update yet, with just a vague ‘end of 2021’ to close for now.
Not every Amazon Echo speaker will receive the update, unfortunately, with the first-gen Echo and Echo Dot missing, along with the Echo Tap. This makes sense, given the age of these speakers compared to more recent models, so it’s possible that these earlier devices may not meet the mater standard.
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For beginners, Matter is a joint open-source platform made up of tech companies that specialize in smart home tech, such as the aforementioned Amazon, Samsung, Google, and others. The concept stems from the desire to create a unified smart home brand that is compatible with your voice assistant of choice.
Connections supported by Matter include all the usual ones you’d expect, such as Bluetooth, Thread, and WLAN. It is also possible that Ethernet connections will be supported sometime after launch.
In theory, this should make the process of setting up a smart home easier than ever, reducing the amount of incompatibilities that might otherwise crop up. With Matter, for example, a user can have their desired voice assistant (such as Alexa or Google Assistant) and use it to control Matter-branded devices such as Philips Hue smart lights or wireless Bluetooth speakers.
Analysis: What’s the matter?
Matter includes over 170 tech companies dedicated to integrating a smart home experience. This connectivity was established by the Standard Alliance (formerly the Zigbee Alliance). Matter branding is also license-free, making it about as accessible as it gets.
So why is it notable to join the Amazon Matter initiative? For one, and most clearly, it shows that the tech giant is willing to play ball with other manufacturers. Amazon already has good relationships with most of these other companies — notably Samsung and Philips — that host storefronts on Amazon’s site.
It also means that Amazon Echo users have nothing to fear if they want to either start with – or improve on – a smart home environment. They can rest safe in the knowledge that Amazon smart devices will be largely compatible with other products under the Matter umbrella.
The concept of Matter is an ambitious effort that will still depend on each individual tech company to contribute to updating their respective devices. Ultimately, though, we’re happy to see these companies working together to simplify the smart home process, which will potentially introduce the concept and its useful perks to a wider audience.
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