The new smart home standard Matter makes a lot of big promises, the main one of which is to solve the interoperability problem that the smart home currently finds itself in and get Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon talking. Heavy work. But it is also tackling one of the other weak points of the connected home: the control of the television.
Part of the new connectivity protocol is a specification for TVs and streaming video players. This means that Matter could become another means of controlling the content in our homes. But, with its promise of platform agnosticism, Matter’s TV specification has the potential to replace proprietary streaming systems, like Apple’s AirPlay or Google’s Cast, and finally unleash our TVs.
Matter TV, as we’ll usually call it an official name, will allow you to control the basic functions of a TV – raise / lower the volume, change channels, control inputs and outputs, and switch between ports. HDMI. âMost importantly, you can also do casting,â said Chris DeCenzo, senior software development engineer at Amazon Lab126. The edge.
âIt’s an area with at least five proprietary protocols today,â he says. âThe result is a complete loss of opportunity for everyone. Not to mention the big headaches for users wondering which voice assistant can get this content and which remote will control that streaming stick. Amazon is leading the effort to define the specifications for Matter, which is not surprising given that it is currently the only major player without an exclusive way to stream content from a smartphone to a TV.
âMedia control is one of the most popular use cases for Alexa,â says DeCenzo, who told me that Amazon works with the various industry leaders in the areas of smart TVs, players streaming video and content providers to help them adopt Matter. The goal is that “customers can use voice control consistently and launch their favorite content on these screens,” he explains.
While the Matter TV specification doesn’t explicitly call for voice control, the idea here is standardization. One protocol for all device communications, everything will talk to everyone else using the same language, no matter that he has done. Ultimately, this means that you will be able to use the control interface of your choice (a voice assistant, a remote control, or a smartphone / tablet app) with all of your streaming content devices and apps.
When Matter arrives in 2022, the Matter TV specification will use app-to-app communication, at least until TVs and streaming video players are enabled for Matter. The specification supports streaming from a Matter client (such as a remote, smart speaker, or phone app) to an app running on a Matter-enabled TV or video player, DeCenzo explains. It also supports URL-based streaming which means that a Matter client can stream to a TV even if there is no app for that client, if the TV supports streaming dynamic adaptive (DASH, an international standard for streaming) or HLS DRM streams (HLS is a video streaming protocol developed by Apple and widely supported on Android devices and browsers).
The capacity could go beyond simple entertainment and be used to activate smart home notifications, says Chris LaPrÃ© of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, the organization that oversees the new standard. For example, it could send a message from your connected doorbell to your smart TV, letting you know someone is at the door. It could also show you the video stream, a workaround to include the video streams in Matter, as the cameras are not part of the first device deployment.
Oddly, LaPrÃ© argued that the specification might allow the use of context when delivering these messages, such as notifying you from the smart speaker in the room you are in that your laundry is done. âIt could be streaming anything, smart home notifications, a local video – all it needs is a URL to pull the content from,â says LaPrÃ©.
The technology here is not specific at the system level, as with Apple’s AirPlay. It appears to be closer to Google’s Cast, where apps will need to develop support for it, at least initially. But like AirPlay, and like all Matter communications, it’s entirely local. Device-to-device communication uses Matter as a channel. At launch, Matter will use Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Thread as communication protocols.
The requirement for app creators, such as Hulu and Netflix, who are not currently members of CSA, to expand support for Matter could make it something non-starter to begin with. Beyond Amazon and its Prime Video and Google with YouTube, some of the major streaming content providers are part of the CSA, and the app developer will initially need to add Matter support to the. both to the app on the phone or on the streaming device (for example, a smart speaker, laptop or smartphone) and the app in the receiving device (TV, streaming stick, smart screen) .
âYou can communicate directly from the Prime Video app on my phone to the Prime Video app on the TV,â says DeCenzo. Going forward, according to LaPrÃ©, streaming video players and TVs will have Matter built into the devices themselves, and at this point, the receiving device’s apps won’t need to be enabled for Matter. . It seems likely that Amazon will enable Matter on its Fire TV devices, and the company has already committed to upgrading all of its smart speakers to support Matter. Samsung, TCL, Panasonic, Toshiba, and LG are all involved in Matter, as are Apple and Google. Additionally, streaming video player maker Roku is part of the Matter TV working group. However, according to the list of companies on the Matter website, Vizio and Sony are two major hardware players that have yet to sign up.
The primary focus, however, is part of Matter’s overall promise: to avoid manufacturer lockdown. People should be able to buy the device they want, and it should be able to talk to all the other connected devices in their home, regardless of the perpetrator.
For example, if both were Matter compatible, you should be able to control an LG TV from a Samsung smartphone, and that LG TV should be able to receive a message from a Miele smart washer that the laundry is finished. But, and this is a big but, nothing in the overall material specification is a requirement. A company that adheres to Matter as a whole is not required to adopt a certain device specification that it does not need or want.
This means Apple and Google don’t have to embrace the Matter TV spec if they don’t want to (but if they do, they have to embrace everything, including the cast). LaPrÃ© says the two companies âblessed thatâ as part of the specification (the matter is governed by the CSA members who vote on the specifications). It remains to be seen whether they will adopt it. But if Amazon does, which seems like a good bet, it should mean that you can use Matter to stream from your Amazon Prime app on your iPhone to your Amazon Prime app on your Apple TV or Google Chromecast.
I’ve reached out to Google and Apple regarding this specification and its impact on their current offerings. Both companies are committed to supporting Matter in their respective smart home ecosystems and are both members of CSA. Google’s Kevin Po said in an email that âGoogle Assistant will support Matter (eg on / off, play / pause, app launch, etc.) on par with our current Works With Assistant offering. Apple did not comment.
Po went on to reiterate that Google Cast remains Google’s preferred method of sending media through apps and voice to Chromecasts, speakers, and displays. Like, we can only guess at this point, will Airplay be Apple’s âpreferred methodâ. But which will be your preferred method could very soon involve a lot more choices.
Updated Thursday, December 9 at 1:20 p.m.: Added that if a company chooses to adopt the Matter TV specification, they will have to adopt it in full.
Updated Saturday December 11 at 2:45 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that according to the list of companies on the Matter website, Roku and Toshiba were not part of Matter. CSA contacted to say their website is outdated and Toshiba and Roku are now members.